“The old items carried a history with them, and I was inspired to use them in new ways, to create them a new story.”
Tell us about yourself?
I was born near Portland, Oregon, USA and have lived here my whole life. I’ve been a professional sculptor for the last 18 years, specializing in welding reclaimed materials. In my free time I enjoy painting, hiking our local trails and spending time with my wife and kids.
How did you develop the art of welding? What made you choose welding as a career?
I’ve always loved creating and trying new mediums- painting, drawing, woodcarving. About 20 years ago I thought I’d give metalworking a try, so I taught myself how to weld, mostly by trial and error. Scrap metal was good to practice with (it was cheap and available) and soon I began to realize it was also really interesting material. The old items carried a history with them, and I was inspired to use them in new ways to create them a new story. This type of welding became my passion, so I quit my full-time job in the printing industry and focused on building myself a new career around doing what I loved.
Please brief us on your current business model?
I’m usually booked with commissions 6-8 months out. I have an excellent business manager who handles the administrative duties that come with owning a business, giving me the freedom to just focus on the art. We have clients from all over the world- from galleries and museums to hotels and airports.
What type of project are your currently working upon?
I have a few exciting projects lined up. Right now, I’m working on an installation piece for Delta Airlines: an Austin, Texas-themed pair of cowboy boots for their lounge in the Austin International Airport. I also have a life-size grizzly bear in the works, along with a 6 ft H face for a luxury hotel.
Can you describe on some of the mega projects you worked upon in the past?
One of my biggest projects was a 10 ft H sculpture of Paul Revere on his horse for the Revere Hotel in Boston, MA. I consider this project mega not because of its size, but because of the logistics it took to install. It was the only time I shipped a completed sculpture in 4 sections, then flew across the country to assemble it on site. I had it all worked out in my head, but didn’t get a trial run, so I was relieved when it all went as planned in one try.
Please describe on the most unique and interesting project? Why?
It’s hard to pick one since I really pride myself on the uniqueness of each sculpture I create. I love that no two sculptures I make will, or can, ever be the same. Each is made with the random collection of what’s on hand at the time, and each includes unique and intentionally placed objects. I’ve also started putting a personal item in all of my sculptures, sort of like a hidden signature, making them even more unique. It could be a broken tool, an old phone, even a worn-out glove. It’s my way of putting an actual piece of myself into my work, and creating a true one-of-a-kind sculpture. So, to answer your question, I guess all of them are the most unique to me.
How has been the response to your creative products so far?
I’m grateful for all of the positive feedback my work has received over the years. I think this type of art is fun for viewers because it’s interactive- like a 3D “Eye-Spy” game, where people search for recognizable items. I’ve been able to support my family with my art, and that’s really the best response I can ask for.
What challenges do you come across when at work? How do you manage to cope up with the same?
Working with recycled material can be challenging at times because I’m limited to using only what I have on hand. Sometimes I think about how much easier my job would be if I could go out and buy the specific material I may need. In my case, though, if I can’t find a piece I need, I have to make it with what I have. This is challenging, but it also makes the finished work that much more gratifying.
Your say on the Safety at Work. How do you consider the same when on site?
Safety should be taken seriously in any hazardous, potentially dangerous profession, and it’s a top priority in my shop. I did a lot of safety research and studying before ever touching a welder, and I always recommend taking a welding safety class. There is a lot of important things to know as far as proper ventilation, proper attire, proper practice…it never hurts to know too much about safety.
Any anecdotes you wish to share to support the importance of safety for welders?
I’ve been to the emergency room a few more times than I’d like to admit, mostly for shards of metal in my eyes, so I can’t stress the importance of eye protection enough. And, of course, like many seasoned welders, I have a few good burn scars that tell their own stories.
What is your greatest strength, and how does it help you as a Welder?
I think my greatest strength is that I believe I can create anything. Sometimes a client will ask for something crazy, or something I’ve never done before, but I’ll always tell them I can do it. Sometimes my wife looks at me like, “Are you sure you can do that?” But as a sculptor and a welder, I think having the confidence to take on any job has pushed me to stretch and develop my skills in ways I wouldn’t otherwise have, and has helped me prove to myself that I actually can make anything. (So far.)
Can you please share an incident of a toughest welding job you have come across?
I made a life-sized lion once, and its mane was probably my toughest job so far. I unwound steel cable to use as the hair, and it took some arduous cutting, tedious hours of welding the strands together, and meticulous placement, to end up with a full, realistically flowing mane.
Right from the time you started your career till date, what has been your learning so far? Any new skills you have learned?
I am constantly learning about ways to develop my craft, about the newer technology in welding, and about balancing my business and life. I’ll always be learning, and I love that.
What are your future plans?
I plan to keep creating, to keep growing my business, and to keep developing as a welder and an artist.
I hope my work encourages people to stop and engage- to look closer at the items they recognize and reflect on the possibilities of reuse in their own lives.