It began in the unlikeliest of places: Las Vegas.
I had been in retail longer than I cared to admit, and it was becoming less fulfilling and empty every day. Inspired by some friends, I began buying tools, playing around with housepaint making simple minimalist art on wooden “canvases”. Most of it was just using houspaint on some home made stencis, but it was better than coming home after a shitty day and getting wasted, and it opened up a creative door I didn’t know existed.
Those same artist friends convinced me to set up at one of their punk-rock parking lot art walk events. I had no prices, no table, no business cards, no website, hell, not even a name for my new endeavor. Everything was born that night, and while I was unprepared and humbled, I also received an encouraging response to my work, and I found myself suddenly inspired and driven. Nerd Wood Designs, est 2013 in Las Vegas, NV.
My knowledge, skill and confidence grew, and I attended more and more events that continued to excite me. Eventually, I took a massive leap of faith and quit my job as retail manager at a company I had been with for several years. I worked more, came up with new ideas, traveled to more cities for art events, and eventually up and moved somewhere that my unique brand of art might thrive. Also, I love nature and trees and people and beer, so Portland was a nice fit for me.
My art has evolved quite a bit throughout the years, and it’s probably not done yet. But now I’m in a the throes of a new chapter in my career, and that - since day 1 - has been the ever-motivating fire that led me to be something more than just a retail manager.
I was never completely married to one particular art medium or style, but I always kept it easy and only made things that I personally loved. 2d wood art tended to feature pop-culture nerddom that I never outgrew; Star Wars, video games, sci-fi, comedy, superheroes, and high fantasy. Plus I quite like beer. So I stuck with my niche, but I always wanted to try out new mediums and opportunities to make things. Like candles, and through graphic design, and real woodworking.
As my craft grew and my progression led me to more ways to make things, I discovered I really enjoyed working with real wood and tools, not just hardware store plywood and a chop saw. Again, I simply combined my interests into something I thought was fun, and other people might like too. More 3D art pieces began to interest me that mixed different woods, paints, stains and hardware elements together. Most of all I was happy to be making something that I had never seen before.
These days I have reunited with tabletop gaming after many, many years of separation. At our first game, people were bringing mismatched dice in crown royal bags, rolling dice wildly across the table, and using 2 opened up D&D books as the DM screen. That event alone sparked up a whole new level of inspiration.
“Oh this won’t do” I thought to myself. “I want our gear to be way cooler than this”. So while I played around with some cool boxes and things I wanted for myself, everyone got new Christmas gaming gifts. Granted, they essentially got my finished prototypes, but they are still great pieces. Nowadays, I get really excited to make dice boxes that look like treasure chests, exotic wood rolling towers and trays, and solid wood Dungeon Master screens adorned with decorative iron hardware and leather straps.
After several years of being able to make this work full-time and still make my mortgage payments, I find tremendous happiness in creating things for a living, with my own head and hands, that other people can enjoy for themselves. It may seem trivial, but it wasn’t until doing this for a time did I learn to appreciate that concept, and how satisfying it can be to turn a handful of raw materials into an object of another’s affection and enjoyment.
If I’ve earned yours, I sincerely thank you. With my work, it is my goal above all else for you to be pleased with my products, should you choose to acquire one of them. I like to make things that others also like, but I wouldn’t even bother if I didn’t love it myself.