Father's Day Q & A: Michael Upton
We sat down for a chat with artist and designer Micheal Upton about what inspires him, balancing life and work and what it means to be a dad.
Tell us what you do and about your family?
I am an artist/designer and founder of the design studio Upton. At Upton we make artwork and goods for the home, including screenprints on canvas, screen prints on paper, and metal sculptures.
I’m married to my incredible wife Mariel who is a writer and we have a 2-year-old son named Eames.
What does fatherhood mean to you?
Teaching my son and being open to everything he has to teach me.
How do you balance dad life, personal and work?
It can be challenging, but I’ve found that having a schedule helps work stays during work hours. I have breakfast with my son every morning and then I work while he’s at daycare. Once he’s home, the work stops, and we take the dog for a walk and have dinner in the backyard as a family.
What do you do when you get free time?
You can usually find me in the kitchen cooking something from a Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook.
What is something you’ve learned from your father?
Rome wasn’t built in a day – In other words, most things can be accomplished with dedication, hard work and time.
As a kid I watched my father build entire houses from the ground up practically by himself. He can take a large project that seems completely daunting and break it into small tasks to complete one step at a time.
Tell us one of your favorite memories of Eames.
When Eames was really little, he was enamored with the ceiling fan in our home. One day I had him with me at Lowes and as we turned down the ceiling fan isle (with like 40 fans overhead) he pointed up let out the largest screech of pure joy.
How do your children inspire you, and how do you want to inspire them?
Eames has inspired me not to be a homebody – he’s very social and wants to be out doing and seeing everything.
I’d like to inspire and encourage him to pursue his passions. Parents always say to their children you can be anything you want when you grow up - but most don’t tell them HOW to become anything they want. I always wanted to be an artist and although my parents encouraged that, nobody ever showed me HOW to be an artist. Nobody took me to art galleries, showed me art schools, took me to talks by artists. I’d like to help show my son how to become the person he’d like to be.
What’s the last thing you read, watched, listened to?
Just read and listened:
Design As Art — My good friend Taylor sent me this book by designer/artists Bruno Munari. Great book about viewing the world around us from a design perspective.
The Food Explorer — Fascinating book on the history of the fruits, vegetables, and grains we grow and eat in the US and how they got here.
The Neon Skyline – I’ve had this album by Andy Shauf on repeat for a while now.
What are you looking forward to most as a father?
I can wait to travel more with Eames. I didn’t travel outside the US until I was about 18, but once I did it completely changed my life. I can’t wait to show him all of the great people, cultures, food, traditions, art, and beauty in this world.