Newt Grover of Newt Glass: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became an Artist

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Don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve never had a fear of failure. Generally, when you do fail you learn more from that than you do success. If you are going to fail then fail big, because you can always pick yourself up and move on.

As a part of our series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist” I had the pleasure of interviewing Newt Grover.

Newt Grover is a professional glass artist and owner of Newt Glass in Scottsdale, Arizona. Grover has over 30 years of experience designing chandeliers, sculptures, and lighting fixtures for multiple restaurants, hotels, and museums across the southwest.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona and as a teenager I fell in love with art. I took a crafts class at Coronado High school and really liked it. When I began my career as an artist, I initially started out making jewelry before moving onto creating neon and metal signs. After that I moved onto glass making. I realized early on much of my art revolved around fire. My Mom described me one time as a “well-directed pyromaniac” because how much I liked working with fire in my art. Pretty much once I started making glass art I was hooked, and everything started taking off from there.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

As I mentioned, I fell in love with making art in high school. I took that crafts class and realized I was fairly advanced when it came to creating art. Once I started being creative, I didn’t want to stop. So, I moved on to making jewelry and neon signs then caught the bug of glass blowing.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I had the opportunity to work on a project for the El Paso Children’s Hospital. Before that I hadn’t thought much about the impact of my work until I saw it installed at the hospital. That installation turned my whole career around. Before I was just doing work for my own entertainment seeing what I could make that made my customers happy. I never gave the impact of my artwork a lot of thought. I got to see that when installing that piece in El Paso. Seeing the smiles on people’s faces and their comments about it showed me how my art can make a lasting impression. I became much more aware on what the art can do for people’s lives.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m currently working on a big rainbow tornado chandelier right now for a client in Las Vegas that is cool. It’s about 11 feet long and 4 feet wide at the top so it’s a really big piece. The color and the movement in the piece are amazing. I really like working with color in my pieces to make them look like they are moving even though they are static.

Another piece I just put up was another fun project. It was a waterfall style glass piece that hung upside down from a fireplace. So, that was a neat project because it was something I hadn’t done before.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I always like working with clients from different aspects of life. It provides me with a view into other people’s lives who are way different than my own. For instance, recently I was working with some people who breed horses in Lexington, Kentucky. Talking with them and learning about what they do amazed me about how much money they can make off the horses but also the flip side of a horse having a freak accident, getting hurt can cost them a lot of money. Just the risk and reward aspect of what they do was interesting.

Another guy I worked with, his father was killed while he was in high school, and before he graduated, he was already running his own landscaping business working at water treatment plants throughout Texas. Now he builds and maintains water treatment plants all over Texas. He bow hunts, flies his own planes and is an overall a really interesting guy.

Most of the people I work with, at least half of them, have limited education, no college usually or maybe just a little. These guys I work with made their success happen for themselves. Another client I’m working with now invented those machines in grocery stores on the aisles that put out coupons. I get to work with so many different and interesting people and I always ask them about their life experiences. I consider myself a cultural tourist and I want to learn about people’s lives because it fascinates me.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Can you share a story about that?

Generally, my inspiration comes from the client. Sometimes they have an idea of what they want, and I work with them to come up with something that they are going to love. A lot of time designs evolve during the creation process, so I want to make something they are going to love because they must live with it. When I’m talking to a client some idea or inspiration will pop in my head and I’ll talk to the client, and it evolves from there.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

How I look at it is artwork and aesthetics are important for the human spirit. You look at these poor countries and they don’t have artwork or aesthetics around at all. As an artist, no matter how much I’m paid, it is always a net positive for society. My art is going to outlast me, so putting that art out in the world benefits people. It’s one of those things that I don’t think about that much because that is the point of putting the work out there and seeing what happens. Most of the time it has a good result.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. I would have liked being bolder when I was younger because I think I could have made a lot more pieces and got more done over the course of my career.
  2. I think I should’ve pushed myself to be a little more business-like. I think if I would have had that side of my work a little more in order, I could have been more successful.
  3. Looking back, I probably would have gone for some bigger projects. Not be as self- limiting as I was early on and not let myself be intimidated by large jobs when I was younger.
  4. Don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve never had a fear of failure. Generally, when you do fail you learn more from that than you do success. If you are going to fail then fail big, because you can always pick yourself up and move on.
  5. Develop more socially because my glass blowing is not a solitary thing. I would’ve liked to have learned more interpersonal skills because I am collaborating a lot with clients. My first art career was creating jewelry and neon and that was a solitary endeavor. Doing these bigger glass blowing jobs, you must have assistants and speak with people and clients. So, knowing how to speak with people and interact with the people you work with as well as clients is important.
  6. Have more fun. Try to not to make the artwork your entire world. Try to have fun outside of work because it is easy to burn out. It is better to have varied interest to keep things fresher for you. You get to see other things, other parts of life that you are giving up on to produce your art.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would try to eliminate all this negative social conditioning where people are not encouraged to find their gifts or passions that much. There is too much conformity taking place. You can be a responsible citizen without being a conformist. Teaching people how to think for themselves. I do well at free thinking but at times I feel limited. There needs to be more tolerance for free thinking in our society. Not just the tolerance for the things we are supposed to have tolerance for. Go beyond that. We have a ton of options in this country but a lot of those are still conformist views. Imagine a world with more Da Vincis, Steve Jobs, and Nikola Teslas who made huge contributions to the world because they were free thinkers and thought about how they could make the world better. Most people walk through life unconscious and just deal with the monotony of everyday life without stepping outside that zone.

We have been blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she just might see this.

Elon Musk. He’s a free thinker and he’s not ashamed to say what he thinks no matter what flack he gets from it. He says what he wants, and he does what he wants. Having the wealth and experience he has, allows no one to really hurt him. People have been going after him for years, but he still says and does what he wants. I don’t agree with everything he says or does, but he has the will to go do it.

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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Newt Grover of Newt Glass: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became an Artist was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.