"One of the most common questions an artist may hear is, “how did you get started in art?. The answer is not always simple since the decision to make art is an evolving process. As a young boy I enjoyed building, drawing and whittling. Despite encouragement I never gave those activities serious consideration and in college I considered a business career path a more practical choice. Fears of an unfulfilled life and a maverick mind set, caused me to give some serious thought to those previous ‘nudges’. I changed my major to art and specialized in sculpture after some frivolous exploration outside of academia. The discovery of plywood as a medium happened in my student years because of its availability and its unique, unexplored characteristics. Upon college graduation the decision to create and make a living by my own hands led me to Boston, clueless on how to make this happen. Searching for direction, I discovered people would actually buy my small handmade items. My big break came in 1977 at the Rhinebeck Craft Fair where there were galleries eager to buy my work and resell it. This new found demand for my work necessitated expansion so I moved to the country in upstate New York where lower overhead and an actual woodworking shop helped my business to develop. After quite some time, life changed again and the decision to move back in 1995 to Florida to the artists community at Railroad Square in Tallahassee. In 2016 I relocated to Portland Oregon.
Another common question artists hear, “how do you come up with your ideas?” This again is not a simple answer since inspiration is often a mystery and definitely an evolution. The desire to carve in wood must be something instinctive because I have always had it. My ideas have come from many sources including just plain imagination. Some ideas have morphed into completely other ideas. Once an idea is formulated, the joy of execution takes over and sometimes the idea will change. When this process has run its course there is the satisfaction of completion and a period of reflection which may lead to more change in the original idea. This full cycle of idea, execution and appreciation by others is very rewarding an satisfying.
After four decades of woodworking, I’ve reached a level of skill and expertise that allows me more artistic freedom than I had as young craftsman. Ideas come easier and I now posses the experience and means to execute them. Each new piece motivates me to push for even more challenging sculptures." - Robert Hargrave