July 18, 2009
Beauty will inspire beauty.

This note was from a former Mastery student of mine. I wanted to share.

“My wife came home with a woodworking job for me – build calligraphy easels for ladies in a local art group. I’m thinking cherry or walnut and something pretty nice but they said sturdy and cheap. After that let down and a sketch and prototype they want something different. I wish Gary would have devoted one of our sessions to managing customer expectations and in knowing when to walk away!”

This, my response to his lament.

Ah Dennis, if I knew when to walk away, I might have walked away long ago.

Part of the artist’s job is convincing the unworthy public, the geometrically disinclined, the visually bereft that what you will make for them will be so far superior to “sturdy and cheap” that their calligraphy will soar. Remember that Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs, a fellow Reedie, credited the design of his fonts, the importance of his fonts, to his calligraphy classes at Reed. The importance of surrounding ourselves with beauty in order to create beauty cannot be overstated.

But overstate it you must to the unadoring public. If art will soar and serifs flourish, then artists must needs have good tools surrounding them. Sturdy and cheap will be thrown away in a few years time along with the calligraphy pens. Your work will inspire them to continue on, to perservere, to make great art. Be the inspiration they seem to so truly need! Carry on.
Yours in hip boots,

From the former disconsolate:
“What a great response!
The beauty to inspire beauty view speaks volumes that you just don’t get with a utilitarian view such as the ladies have for that easel. To them it is nothing more than a prop. Well, there’s a piece of walnut in the shop to be shaped for someone who is inspired by and appreciates it grain, color and fine fit 😉

Thank goodness for Jobs and his caligraphy class experience – look what he has done with Mac’s, iPods and the such…useful, creative and artistic devices.”

So to us all, let me add that in this culture, in this world, where the loud and the profane, the quick and the showy get far more air time than the quiet and serene, the slow and the deep, in this time, let me urge us to keep swimming upstream. Keep doing the work. You’ll know, even if your closest relations sadly don’t, how much effort can go into something simple. And that it’s worth it. It’s okay. In the end someone will notice. They just won’t usually be heard above the din. Thanks Dennis for letting yourself be heard.

Gary Rogowski is the Director of The Northwest Woodworking Studio. Visit us at

Published in: on July 18, 2009 at 6:00 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. No august August thoughts?

    You write beautifully.

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