Patrick Beck – Denver, Colorado
Patrick Beck gained worldwide attention for his glass sculpture of Venom, a human fused with a symbiotic alien entity to become the shape-shifting anti-hero of the Marvel Universe. In reality, the two are a lot alike — minus the long-tongue and sharp-teeth. Patrick’s skills as a glass artist are a melding of his background in welding, chemical engineering, entrepreneurial management and extensive treks around the country and throughout Europe, soaking up the sights and cultural experiences.
Patrick has always been interested glass and his family would even bring him glass souvenirs from their travels. Later on, he got into oxy acetylene welding, which uses acetylene gas as fuel for the flame that heats the metals causes them to melt together — it wasn’t a big leap from there into glass blowing. He found even more artistic inspiration as part of a local collective that was also home to ceramics and metal sculptors and stained glass workers.
While visiting Los Angeles, Patrick was invited to a crew screening of Black Panther, where he met some of the digital animators who had worked on the film, and from whom he gleaned insight into their artistic process that he was able to apply to the glass world.
“One person would start with rough animation, another adds detail and so on until you’ve got the finishing touches. It’s easy to say ‘good enough’ and be done, but what clicked for me, that if I took what I was doing that was basic, then taking more steps and adding details that I could go even further,” Patrick says.
Patrick was attracted to the artistic freedom and challenge that go hand-in-hand with glass blowing. Oil rigs in the form of dragons have become Patrick’s signature, as are the nightmarish pieces based on Venom and Carnage, his supervillian symbiote foe.
“As a kid I was into comic books and Venom was one of my favorite characters. There’s something really fascinating about the story of Venom being a symbiotic alien creature,” Patrick says.
“I really pushed myself in creating the Venom piece,” he adds. “It turned into an eight week process where I kept telling myself that I could do more.”
It was time well spent. When Patrick posted the finished piece to social media, the terrifyingly realistic snarling Venom complete with fangs, glorious, disgusting tongue and plenty of slime (clear glass stringers), drew a million views in an hour.
Patrick’s ideas, like his inspirations, are always evolving. One of his latest projects involves fusing live bonsai trees with glass art, training the plants to grow in and around the pipe.
“I’ve always been into the functional glass, but I’ve always been able to see the artistic value in it,” Patrick says. “Right now, I’m all about the cannabis community — there’s a lot of benefits to it. I’ve met some people who are really cool, are very open and inspire me to push myself and do better and better work.”