Andrew McAteer walks up the marble steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and begins wandering though the exhibit halls. He stops in front of a painting of a civil war general and examines the ammunition bag that is slung across the general’s uniform.
McAteer’s brown-bronze eyes widen and he mentally catalogues the details in the painting. He return home and begins sketching a small leather pouch, similar to the one in the painting, but allows the leather strap to swivel so it can sit around someone’s hips. McAteer creates a prototype pouch, which he then tests out on a canoeing trip up the Hudson River. As he pulls his metal canoe out from the water, the hip pouch holds his camera and mobile phone, and keys, so his hands are free. The design is Andrew-approved, ready for production.
Back in New York, McAteer gets to work. His studio space is a whitewashed ground floor in Astoria, Queens where doors are held open with dead weights, walls are adorned with dried animal skulls and window sills are peppered with preserved bee hives.
“A lot of my process is internal,” McAteer explains. “So I have a thing I have to make, and I usually have some parameters: that it will be wood, metal, canvas or leather, it might need to fold or disassemble, and then I just mull it over for a while.”
“Ideas will come and go. I just notice things… and eventually certain ideas become solid in my mind,” McAteer says. “Then I start making sketches, then measured drawings, then rough samples with scrap materials.”
Once these samples become shoes or bags or other useful objects, McAteer heads back up the marble steps of the Met, searching for more inspiration from generations of artists and makers past.