On a sunny day, walking down the main street of Bangalow, if you look carefully you’re likely to see a little bit of magic when Asaf Zakay’s beautiful glass creations send shards of light dancing across the street, writes Christina Giorgio.
The Byron Shire’s very own geometric glass artist, Asaf Zakay, first studied glass art in a short course in Israel, his homeland, in 2002. “I became frustrated quite quickly with the two-dimensional approach,” Zakay tells me, over a cup of lemon grass tea in his Bangalow show rooms, which also doubles as a studio, as I relax into watching the hypnotic process of one of his glass creations coming together.
It’s been ten years now since Zakay settled in the Byron Shire, in 2005, after some years living in the madness and magic of India. He’d always been a creator, and making geometric shapes from a variety of materials, and at some point, he says, “I was inspired to create a pendant using glass.” Intrigued by the idea of three-dimensional shapes inspired by the Star of David, he began to experiment at home, and when he left Israel on his travels, he’d created a small collection of pieces he gave to friends and family. Packed in his suitcase, however, was a small cutting knife for glass and few glass triangles that survived the journey.
It wasn’t until he was working from a studio on a property in Rosebank, in the hills behind Byron Bay that Asaf was first introduced to the idea of sacred geometry as a universal symbol. “I had no idea about it,” he explains. “I thought the concept only belonged to Israel. I was making these shapes with no real idea. I knew it was a spiritual symbol but I had no idea that it is a full universal symbol and that the symbol is the universal language. There’s nothing that lives and exists on the planet that’s not based on the same ratio of every single shape I create.” Based on a mathematical ratio discovered by Leonardo Fibonacci, the Fibonacci sequence is a number that repeats itself all endlessly in nature – resulting in the Golden section, or Golden ‘mean’, as it’s often referred to – it provides the mathematical and spiritual basis for Asaf’s work.
Zakay started his full-time glass artist career selling at the local markets, and although the initial years held some challenges Zakay Glass Creations grew into a thriving business. “The first year when I was out at the markets it was a bit – not hard – but almost just taking you to all those places where you think if I should keep doing it or if I should stop doing it.” He questioned whether he would be better off joining the ranks of other importers selling Asian trinkets, clothes and homewares, but he was supported by his former partner, Samaya, a savvy and motivated business woman, who was able to compliment Zakay’s creative hard work with a strong marketing drive. On the road, the pair took his work to trade shows across the country and continued to sell locally at the market and steadily they built a loyal customer base.
After the couple separated Asaf was thrown into a new era. “All of a sudden I had to face the computer, had to face paying mortgages and wages and insurance and all the rest of the bills that we have to deal with,” he says. For many artists facing the nuts and bolts of the business face of their work can be a challenge, and for Asaf stepping into a new role was not only a challenge but also a life changer. He has risen to the challenge and with a team of support staff has taken his Facebook following to over 10,000 and is opening into new markets domestically and internationally.
Zakay Glass Creations has now found its home in a beautiful gallery space in Bangalow. In the back corner of a bright and airy room, filled with rainbows of refracted light and breezy views over Bangalow’s main street, Zakay can be found working on his stunning glass creations. While he dreams of spending more time creating on the land, surrounded by his horses and immersed in nature, he is embracing this new phase of his thriving local business.
For other creative business owners out there and arts professionals Zakay shares these words of advice –
- Fully believe in what you do and love it.
- Don’t listen to anyone is the best advice. Just do your thing. When we first started 10 years ago, even my partner at the time would tell me to forget about it and just import stuff, and I was like: “You know what, if people don’t buy a product of $100 lets make a product for $200, if they don’t buy the $200 let make one for $400.”
- Have a really strong drive and go for it! Don’t sit and wait for things to happen. We all say what’s meant to happen will happen. Sometimes it’s meant to happen but it doesn’t mean you’re not meant to get out, pick up the phone, get in your car and drive somewhere and make it happen.
If you’re a local creative wanting to see your business thrive, register for a planning intensive for Arts Careers and Businesses – March 7th and 8th at Bangalow Tea Houses and Museum. https://www.creativeconsultancies.com/business-planning-workshop-for-artists/ or like www.facebook.com/CreativeConsultancies for tips, articles and inspiration for artists.