We had the good fortune of connecting with Valerie Alt and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Valerie, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I always knew I wanted and needed to work with my hands and so I started studying. physical therapy and later on medicine. I always enjoyed working with and on people while being able to use my hands and mind to create a solution or fix a problem. However, over time I grew tired of always having to fix something or someone, every time I would meet a client there had already been a problem that I would try to solve as good as possible and prevent it from happening again. I enjoyed the aspect of being able to help and inspire people but medicine was just not the right approach for that. In between schools and before studying medicine, I already felt the need to explore other career choices and pretty randomly chose to learn carpentry. After finishing my apprenticeship, I continued my path down the medical road but it didn’t take me very long to realize that it was not meant for me.
11 years later, everything about the process of working with wood still fascinates me; – the conceptualization, the materials selection, the design, the creation, and the finished product with its smell, texture, and its potential. I could not imagine doing anything else.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work explores the interrelationship between furniture and our emotional response to it – an experience that derives through the stimulation of both our haptic and visual senses. I believe that art has an impact that goes beyond our physical understanding, it also greatly influences our mental state and wellbeing. I design art that imprints – an experience for the mind and the body, that is locked into a physical form and can be set free and personalized by touching and interacting with it. During my apprenticeship in Germany I worked in a very large company and the work there still heavily influences my design. As the only woman among 32 men, I struggled to hold my own. It took me almost the entire three years to earn their respect, but I finally did so by creating the best journeyman’s piece. I knew it had to be more than just a well-made piece to stand out, so I started exploring various aspects of artistic design, discovering a creative side in me I hadn’t previously been aware of.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I had my friends from Germany visiting I would take them to all the beaches in San Diego. After having lived very close to the ocean for over five years now, I just cannot imagine living somewhere without it. I would take them to my daily meditation around 5:30/6 am to the beach in Leucadia or Carlsbad and later on getting coffee and or breakfast at the Nectarine Grove in Encinitas. San Diego North County has so many hidden gems, no matter which direction you drive, there is always something new to discover. I am very drawn to the outdoors, so I would take them on long drives through the orange farms towards Rancho Santa Fe and to Julian for some apple pie and a beautiful hike. On other days, we would rent a little boat and go fishing at Lake Jennings or go horseback riding near the border.
Food-wise, fish tacos all the way, and my favorite Italian Restaurant Buona Forchetta if I am craving a taste of home.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The furniture design staff/teachers/mentors/students at the California College of the Arts.