what's in your toolbox

What’s In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa

by Annie Werbler

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

Inspired by working among beautiful things, Vipoo Srivilasa visited the Bangkok Night Flower Market to furnish a daylight installation of his ceramics in-progress. As a resident artist at Chulalongkorn University in his native Thailand, Vipoo devised an informal art installation in a temporary studio accented with plants and found objects. The Melbourne-based craftsman, curator, and arts activist uses clay as a medium for “exploring culture shifts and migration experiences,” juxtaposed with traditional figurative and decorative sculpting techniques. The result is a magical mood, and Vipoo values the power of the hard work it takes to devise something so delightful. The designer collects these creative ideas that pop into his head from conversations with people striving alongside him to bridge cultures, and also those talks that he has with friends. But Vipoo’s most important source has to be his own boundless sense of fantasy. “Did I mention my imagination is also in the toolbox?!” —Annie

Photography by Yutdanai Sripaiboon and Sukumarl Leksawat; Flowers by Chatchai Kreanpasert

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

What’s in your toolbox?

-Brushes in various sizes
-Hand creams in different fragrances
-Different kinds of leaf molds and flower plunger cutters
-Wooden pottery tools — I particularly love the one I got from China. It is very useful and beautiful at the same time.
-Green polymer ribs by Mud Tools

As I am in a temporary studio, I try to use what I find around me as my toolbox. At the moment, they are leftover Thai iced tea glass bottles, two leftover plastic containers used to contain very delicious pineapple cookies, and an extra container just for today, made of banana leaf.

Did I mention my imagination is also in the toolbox?!

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

Fill in the blank, “When I am in my studio, I feel ____________.”

“When I am in my studio, I feel like a virgin, touched for the very first time!”

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

What is on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?

Cats and red cheek turtle are the subjects of my inspiration at the moment, and I get information on them from the Internet. Sadly, I have not had a chance to read as much as I’d like, and I don’t have any English books on my bookshelf at the moment. However, I have 72 Thai language books that I have bought during the past two months, waiting for me to read and carry back to Australia!

Having said that, before I came to Bangkok, I read 33 Artists in 3 Acts by Sarah Thornton. It gives good insight into the art world.

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

How do you keep yourself organized?

I try to clean up my studio every time I complete one work or one big task — generally one or two times a week. I put nice things in the studio like flowers, plants, and artwork to encourage me to keep the studio tidy and clean.

I also love organizing things like folders, to-do lists, bookshelves, my ceramic tools, emails, and cleaning stuff. I use Google Calendar a lot.

The most helpful thing for me is a to-do list. It helps me keep track of what I need to do and what I have already done. I’m also addicted to email and Facebook, so I often email myself a reminder or send a Facebook message to myself as note-taking.

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?

I am not sure if I would enjoy my life as I am now if I got a superhero or magical power. I think I would get things done too easily and lose the value of hard work. Not long ago, I played a computer game call Skyrim and got a special power (by hacking into the game system) that allowed me to carry unlimited weight. Since I got that power, I’ve slowly gotten bored with the game and have started to see no point in even playing it.

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist, maker, or designer?

Prioritize everything! That is from my partner, and I would offer this advice to a young artist, maker, or designer. Write down all your ideas or projects or what has to be done, and prioritize them in order of urgency.

Another piece of advice is learning how to say “no.” Sometimes, there are too many good opportunities, and you just can’t take them all. I once did that and my artwork suffered with less time to be in studio.

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

How do you combat creative blocks?

I have not had one so far…I think! My problem is that I have too many ideas at once, and cannot decide which one to work on. I try to write it all down — one idea on each A4-sized paper. I put them on the wall and prioritize them based on the most exciting ideas I want to work on, then the possibility of getting them done in time.

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

Where do you like to look or shop for inspiration?

Facebook! Google Image Search, Instagram, books on topics other than ceramics, and sometimes Pinterest.

Chatting with friends is the best sort of inspiration for me. I often get new ideas by chatting casually with friends or making jokes about life, work, and health, and sometimes new ideas just pop out of those conversations.

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

If you could peek inside the studio or toolbox of any artist, maker, designer, or craftsperson, whose would it be and why? 

I would love to see the studio of Nick Cave (visual artist). I love his work and I would love to see how his ideas are formed, how he creates one of his works, and how he navigates the art world.

What's In Your Toolbox: Vipoo Srivilasa, on Design*Sponge

What’s on your inspirational playlist at the moment?

Most of the time I listen to Thai traditional music or Dharma talk. I sometimes listen to podcasts like:

Tales of a Red Clay Rambler
The Potters Cast
TED Radio Hour
This American Life
Savage Lovecast
Good Life Project
ABC Radio National

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