1. How did you get your start in the handmade community?
I've always tinkered with creating things but it wasn't until my son was born that I really got interested in the handmade/DIY community. As a stay at home dad (before that was a thing), I had not only the time, but the desire to create for my son objects and items that could not be purchased at stores and also try to instill in him the value of hard work.
2. What do you feel makes your work unique and truly your own?
Although there are lots of woodworkers (and the more the better, I say), I feel that most craftspeople work in the "functional" aspect of woodworking. Cutting boards, pencil holders, boxes of all sizes, furniture, etc. are all great things but, to me, they loose some of the simple joy of the medium. I make designer wooden toys because I want people to experience wood not as just the functional resource it becomes but also as the magical, living material it remains.
3. What or Who Inspires you?
I pull my inspiration from a multitude of artists. Woodworkers like George Nakashima and Sam Maloof. Other toy makers like Takeji Nakagawa and Pepe Hiller. Also cartoonists, John K., sculptors, Richard Serra, and musicians The Dreadnoughts.
4. What is your creative process like?
Although my work appears simple in concept and construction, I spent numerous hours planning everything from the shapes of the arms to eye placement on each Winklebean character. I've been known to sit with a block of wood or a length of board for months until I can figure out exactly what character trait the wood is calling for. While the cutting, drilling, sanding or other aspects of the craft are nothing special, it is the act of character creating, the "bringing to life" an object that I take most pride in.
5. What is the coolest artistic tip you have ever received?
An art school instructor once told me that to be an artist, one must always be making. Even if it's crap, even if it winds up in the trash, it is the act of making that matters most. We can all imagine the most profound works of art or the most beautiful crafts but until they get made they are nothing. It's only through making, and constantly making, that any thing is ever achieved. So even though my trash can is full, I just keep making.
6. What can we expect to see from you at Jackalope?
I've been branching away from the original character Winklebeans for awhile now but for Jackalope I'll be coming back to them. I'll use the same sizing but I'll be incorporating paint into the new ones in a series I'm (tentatively) calling SportyBeans. While I love the natural look of wood, the effects one can achieve by contrasting the warm tones of nature with the vibrant hues of modern colors in something I'm enjoying exploring. I hope to have 5-6 fully developed new characters for the Jackalope show in Pasadena.
7. Where can we learn more about you?
You can follow along with me on Instagram @winklebeans, or our Facebook page @winklebean or order off our website www.winklebean.com or better yet, come to one of the shows and hang out for a bit.