People are always asking, “Where do we get our ideas?” Our Design Toscano buyers search all around the world discovering unique antiques and incredible artists with distinctive ideas and innovative sculptures.
We at Design Toscano took some time to sit down with acclaimed dragon and gargoyle artist Gary Chang to find out more about the inspiration behind his incredible works of gothic art.
Q: There are strong mystical and mythic elements that run throughout your work, as seen in your recent sculpt, the Scatheus, Guardian of the Shadows Gargoyle Sculpture (CL4188). It is one of the largest gargoyles we have ever sold—over two and a half feet tall! Can you tell us a bit about your history and what has influenced your interest in the gothic and medieval genres?
A: For many years my family has owned and operated a ceramic factory in Taiwan. I basically grew up in the factory, working alongside talented ceramic artists and sketching ideas of my own in my free time. Because ceramics go hand-in-hand with sculpture, it was only a matter of time before I started sculpting my ideas three-dimensionally. Thanks to self-teaching and my family’s support, I was able to shed my inhibitions and travel the globe to learn more about the mystical legends that exist everywhere and to be inspired by them.
Q: What is it about dragons that first captured your imagination?
A: Growing up in Taiwan, I was mostly exposed to the traditional, Eastern idea of dragons. As I got older, however, I had the opportunity to travel around Europe and it was during my travels that I became enlightened as to the Western perception of dragons. The two were so different, yet both still maintained the mystical elements that had drawn me to dragons in the first place. I like to think that I’ve managed to draw on both experiences to create pieces like the Benevolent Asian Dragon (CL2840) where you can see both Eastern and Western influences in the design.
Q: Your art often involves a functional design element, whether it’s a wall pediment spreading its wings and claws like the Hardwick Dragon Wall Pediment (CL2544) or a medieval Battle-Worthy Knight Sculptural Table (CL5307); what inspired you to combine form and function?
A: I still recall, years ago, when I first saw Toscano’s Lord Raffles Throne Chair (AF51207) and was immediately inspired; I thought, “Lion heads and paw feet are perfect for large-scale, sophisticated furniture…why not dragons? Or gargoyles?” I was intrigued by the idea of taking the leap from sculpture to furniture and somehow blending the two…and so the Celtic Dragon Throne (CL2441) was born, paving the way for my more refined, future innovations like the Toscano-exclusive piece Hastings, the Warrior Dragon Glass Topped Table (CL3941).
Q: The Subservient Dragon Glass-Topped Sculptural Table (CL3195) is a longtime customer favorite; which piece is your favorite?
A: There really are so many from which to choose, but I would have to say that Nightfall, the Gargoyle Chandelier, (CL3576) is far and away my favorite. I’ve always loved the freedom of imagination that sculpting gargoyles allows me. Plus, it lights up and to me, that’s really cool!
Q: Many of your sculptures are illuminated, such as your newest gothic piece, the Grim Reaper Illuminated Wall Sculpture (CL2789); what is it about the play of light that you feel enhances the sculpt?
A: Everything! In every lighted sculpt of mine, there are two influences at work: good and evil. Many of my works are based on darker subjects, like my Dark Shadows Gargoyle Lamp (CL3562) or Merciless the Gargoyle Lighted Wall Sculpture (CL3579); when you add light to these subjects, you not only create shadows that add to the sinister or macabre impression intended, but you also create a subconscious dichotomy between light and dark, good and evil. It adds even more intricate dimensionality.
Q: Judging from some of your more recent sculpts, such as Sword and the Shield, the set of two Arthurian Dragon Statues (CL92897), it appears that you’re branching out into more mythical and medieval themes; can we expect more of this?
A: I think it’s a natural progression to go from fantasy to legend, and the overlap really allows me to push the limits of my imagination while retaining elements of fables and myths that have existed for generations. These are stories that people recognize immediately, such as the legend of King Arthur, which inspired me to create the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table set (CL41317). I think it’s safe to say you’ll see more!
We hope that this interview has given you a glimpse into the creative mind of one of our talented artists.
If you wish to see all of Gary Chang’s Design Toscano-exclusive designs, or read is biography, check out his artist page here. See our wide selection of Dragon & Gargoyle or Medieval & Gothic at DesignToscano.com