Today, we had the chance to ask some questions to Thomas Dambo, Artist & Designer from Denmark who specializes in making art pieces, sculptures, furniture and anything you can imagine out of trash, also known as recycled materials. Thomas also gives a lot of speeches about upcycling and arranges workshops for schools, companies, etc… teaching people how to build stuff from trash. If you think you deserve to be featured in the next interview, please, drop us an email.
Tell us a little more about you? Who you are? Where are you from?
My name is Thomas Dambo, I’m an artist and designer from Denmark working entirely with trash.
Why do you craft?
I want to show the world that there is so much good stuff in our trash, I do this by making big and beautifull projects of trash all around the world. And then, I just love to make my ideas come to life with my hands, it’s just the best feeling.
How did you learn and how did you become an upcycled artist?
I can’t walk by a container without looking into it, and I always bring some stuff back to my workshop, just to see what I can do with them. After doing this for many many years I guess I just got good at it. Now I have a big workshop filled with all different stuff I scavanged around my home town of copenhagen.
Since when are you working with junk materials and in upcycling in general? You are making a lot of installations with recycled pallets, why do you choose to work with wooden pallets?
Pallets are just so easy to get, they are all over the world and, in many places people will give them to you for free. At my last trip to Australia, a guy even offered to drive 100 miles and give me around 300 pallets just to get rid of them.
Your installations are big ones and look very complexes, how long does it take to create one?
My wooden sculptures takes me and my team of 5 guys between 4-10 days to create, but it really depends on what the basic idea is and then of cause how many beers we drink in the evening.
What are your can’t-live-without essentials?
That’s my bicycle no doubt.
How would you describe your style? Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
I believe what I’m really good at, is to make it happen, I get an idea and jump right into it. I like to make big stuff, I like to do it in the streets, my art is for everybody, it’s interactive, it’s fun, it’s easy to understand and of cause it’s recycled.
How is your workspace, how do you make it inspiring?
It’s bacically a big hardware store, but instead of new stuff on the shelves, I have old stuff, everything is needly organized and cateforized and I can pretty much make everything without having to buy anything.
What sorts of things are inspiring you right now? Where do you look for inspiration?
I let the things I find inspire what I make, recently a whole lot of small shopping cart wheels. Earlier, I found a lot of plywood. Then, I was thinking what can I make with this – and in this way I got the idea to make a rolling alphabet, so these days I’m building all the letters of the alphabet on separately and in 3-dimentional with wheels, in this way people will be able to push them around and write what ever they will like, it will be something like an interactive personal Hollywood sign.
When do you feel the most creative?
When there is a problem I have to solve, often a good idea comes to me when I’m under pressure. Then, I’m able to choose the best option faster, without thinking too much about it.
We live in such a mass-produced, buy-it-now society. Why should people continue to make things by hand?
If you cant create anything yourself, you will have to buy everything. If you don’t create things you don’t learn how things work, and you won’t be able to repair your things, but will be forced to throw them away and buy new things all the time.
What is your favorite medium to work in (other than pallets)?
I really like to work with all wood, there is so much scrap wood, all over the world, and with some screws you can make the most amazing big and strong structures.
What are your tips for people who’d like to start crafting?
Look at what kind of trash you have access to, maybe your mom works in a factory where they throw out tons of small glass pieces, then go get some of those glass pieces and start a brain storm on what you can do with this glass. The world is sadly but truly filled to the top with trash – you should choose some trash just around the corner, not something you are having a hard time to find.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Instant chocklatemilk, ultimate fighting and new tools.
What is your favorite thing to do (other than crafting)?
What do you recommend that most people do regarding cleaning pallets and prepping them to become something else?
My number one pallet rule is – only use trash pallets / throw away pallets, if you use pallets in a refund system like the Euro-pallet, its not recycling!! It is mass consumption and destruction of a perfectly good recycling system.
You are very productive regarding artistic installations, are you able to live from your art?
Yes I have been able to live from artistic work pretty much the last 12 years, besides from recycle art, I have made 10 hip-hop albums and played hundreds of concerts, I made several music video, worked as a grafic designer, made some recycle TV programs and even toured for some years with a human beatbox show.
Anything else you would like to tell to pallet community?
Yes, go check out my youtube.com/thomasdambo channel, and if anybody have a tip how to get some more subscribers on it, please let me know, I really think I have some good videos, but nobody goes to see them.
Cheers pallet peoples, Thomas Dambo
Thanks Thomas for this interview :)
Bonus: a funny video by Thomas!