Thursday, April 19, 2012
The Artisan Group is proud to announce this week's Artist Spotlight feature is Wallace Kowrach of The Exceptional Artisan!
THE EXCEPTIONAL ARTISAN
We caught up with Wallace and asked him a few questions about incredible hand-crafted pen line and his experiences so far working with TAG. Here's what he said:
- Tell us a little bit about your shoppe. My shop only features a handful of my work. There’s simply so much that I don’t have the time to photograph all of it and put it online -- yet. It encompasses three lines: ballpoint, rollerball and fountain pens. An entirely new line -- not pen-related -- should be debuting within a month or two.
I have made pens out of all sorts of materials: wood, acrylics, marble and even computer circuit boards. Recently, I made a pen out of wood that has been radiocarbon-dated to be between 35,000 to 50,000 years-old. It comes with a certificate of authenticity I received from the supplier attesting to its age. Actually, it may even be older than that but radiocarbon-dating is only accurate up to 50,000 years. Just think about it. The dinosaurs had just packed up and left when these trees got preserved in a bog in New Zealand after the last Ice Age.
What many people don’t realize is that I don’t really design all my pens. My customers do. They know what they like and it’s my job as an artisan to take their design/idea and make it a reality.
Sometimes, it’s a real challenge to find out what kind of a pen they want because most people think they have no artistic talent and want to leave the design up to me. At that point I begin using a bit of reverse-psychology.
I’ll suggest some really outlandish color or material which usually gets an “Oh, God! No! I don’t like that at all. Can’t you do something in “xx” color?” That usually gets a dialogue going real quick and before you know it I have all the information I need to make the pen of their dreams.
They look at me sort of dumbfounded when I congratulate them on designing their own pen until it sinks in about what they’ve just accomplished -- their own pen design. It just goes to prove that there’s an artisan in each one of us just waiting to be discovered.
Besides getting paid -- which always helps -- is seeing the expression on their faces when I deliver the finished pen to them. It’s worth more than whatever they’re paying me for my work because I’ve just brought a smile to their faces. Making someone happy -- it doesn’t get any better than that.
- What is your favorite pen in your shoppe and why? Wow! That’s a tough one. If I had to narrow it down I’d say it’s the fountain pens -- especially my Paragon model. I know. I’m dating myself but the first pen I learned to write with was a fountain pen and I fell in love with it. Never did forgive the teacher when we “graduated” to ballpoints.
For me, fountain pens have an air of dignity and quality about them. I love the way the ink just flows effortlessly onto the paper and even the sound the nib makes as it traces its route across the page. It hearkens back to an era where penmanship mattered and great care was taken with each written message.
- When you're not handcrafting these gorgeous pens, what are your hobbies? Hobbies? Free time? H-m-m-m-m, what a concept! Can’t say I remember the last time I had any.
Well, if push came to shove, I’d say I’ve been an avid science-fiction fan from early childhood--before it was fashionable to admit to such a thing. I fell in love with Star Trek and have even been on several Star Trek cruises where I met most of the cast of all the different series.
The most memorable moment was a conversation I had with Tim Russ who starred in Star Trek Voyager. Majel Barrett Roddenberry overheard our conversation and joined in when she heard I worked for AAA, the auto club. She thought it was a good idea for her to join AAA since she drove an older car. I almost dropped on the floor laughing when Tim said to her, “Majel, you drive a Bentley. They’re not supposed to break down.”
- What do you like best about The Artisan Group? Right from the “get-go” I’d have to say it’s the camaraderie. Everyone supports and encourages each other to a degree that I’ve never encountered in other groups.
I’ve never felt self-conscious about asking the group a question. In fact, it amazes me when I post a question and get a response in less than a minute.
That brings up something about The Artisan Group that’s been puzzling me quite a bit. Doesn’t anyone in the group sleep anymore? Everyone’s always online helping each other. :-)
Seriously though, TAG has done wonders for me by providing access to areas I never dreamt were possible. It’s a real conversation-stopper whenever I mention to a potential client or distributor that my pens were one of the gifts given to celebrities at the (GBK) 2012 Oscars. They immediately listen to what I say a lot more closely. This has opened up doors for me that otherwise would have remained shut.
To paraphrase a credit-card commercial, “That’s absolutely priceless!”
The Artisan Group is an elite collective of artists who gift their handcrafted products to celebrities at Hollywood's top gift lounges.