For a lot of the world, 2016 was not a kind year. We were reminded of the horrors that people can inflict upon each other on a weekly, almost daily basis. Many great artists passed on and reminded us that our time here is fleeting and we should try to make the most of the time we are given.
For me, as an artist, this has been a very positive and successful year. It’s never easy to chase a dream and self-doubt is a constant partner, but I wake up every day and feel fortunate that I have a life that allows me to create artwork for myself and my clients. I consider it a privilege and it’s one that I don’t take for granted. Before reviewing this past year, let me provide some background.
When I started out on the path to work full time on my artwork I really didn’t know where this would lead. I began by starting with what I knew best: painting. I created a series of paintings and hit the galleries. Of course, the gallery scene and painting in particular is full of competition, trends and cliques, there is really no rhyme or reason to it. I decided that I should have a “plan B” in case my painting career didn’t take off.
I took some time to carve a scene into a church pew during the winter of 2014/15 and found some success and recognition as a wood carver. I received some commissions for carving and thought this might be a new path on my journey.
While looking at other options I took the time to carve a pencil to enter in a gallery show for miniature artwork. While it was a fun project and received an honorable mention, I didn’t see much future as a “pencil carver”. Soon that idea would be tossed on its head. With one magical share of a photo showing my carved pencil about a year ago, my world took a huge turn!
In the week leading up to Christmas 2015, I was swamped with requests to carve pencils. My social media pages caught fire and I became a bit of an overnight sensation. It turned out that “pencil carver” can be a job title. I had a long list of commissions and custom designs that would keep me busy for the coming months.
At the same time, I was also starting to get a local following as a metal artist. I had begun cutting designs in saws during the summer of 2015 and now I had many orders to get ready for Christmas. I was just about through the backlog and finishing a large brass and copper sculpture when the pencil carving went crazy, so now I had two new mediums to work in that people enjoyed enough to support with their wallets.
That brings me to 2016 (finally!). This has been one of the busiest years of my artistic life. I’ve always worked hard whether I was self employed or working as a Corporate Artist. But now as a working artist with a list of of orders that needed my attention, I found it hard to take time off.
I have carved dozens of pencils this year. I’ve had many orders for trains similar to my original carving as well as many custom one of a kind designs. My elephant and giraffe pencils brought me new fans as they became popular on social media. I’ve also stepped up my game and invested in better equipment, made custom tools and learned new methods over the past year. My work has been featured in magazines and television spots around the world. I’ve shipped my pencils to Spain, Australia, England and many states in the USA. I look forward to seeing where 2017 takes me and my pencils!
In the middle of this busy year I was commissioned to paint a mural for a new library which was being built nearby. This was a fun project that gave me a break from the close up world of pencil tips! I hired another artist to help and we installed a fun colorful mural that the kids will enjoy for years to come.
As the year comes to an end, I am in the middle of a mad rush to get orders for metal art out the door for Christmas. The past 18 months has been a great evolution for me as an artist as I have come to explore and appreciate the world of artistic metal. What started out as a fun hobby to explore welding techniques has led down a new path of creativity and skills.
I think this year has given me a strong message – “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. I am glad I can evolve as an artist and learn new methods, either via experimentation or YouTube videos. I have always loved to explore a new medium and right now I have the physical space to set up a new studio and get messy, make mistakes and find new ways to make something work.
So 2016 was a busy year, but I like being busy. I like selling artwork. In other words, I have no complaints. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for me. Will I still be carving pencils and creating metal art? …maybe it will be a combination of the two?!
I thank you for continuing along with me on this journey. If you have any questions, feel free to email me or leave a comment below.