I’m lucky to know my lovely friend Jenny since we were in grade school. We rode the same bus to school, played flute in marching and concert band and had plenty of sleepovers.
Jenny has always been very artistic and showcased amazing artworks at our high school art shows. So when she met her husband Kyle Hawke and he created his art business, it made sense that Jenny end up with someone just as creative as her. They now work together on Kyle Hawke art.
So without further ado, I hand this post over to Jenny and Kyle Hawke of Kyle Hawke art. This post is for anyone interested in starting their own business, wanting to do something more creative or who simply needs some inspiration to follow their own dreams. I hope their story inspires you as much as it has me.
Hello! We’re Kyle and Jenny Hawke. Our business name is simply – Kyle Hawke. We are currently located in Ohio though we often travel for shows or to meet clients.
We began our art business about 2 ½ years ago. We started out very small so that we could really work on the design and technique. We attended small local art shows and farmers markets that first year. We were successful enough that we decided to get serious and try larger sculptural pieces.
Last year was our first year of attending out-of-state art shows that were near Ohio. This year, we are traveling from the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between including Milwaukee, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and Chicago just to name a few. We will be attending many of the top fine art shows in the US.
We create wood sculptures using a variety of methods and techniques such as bending, carving, gilding and painting. Our current collection is very animal based; however, we are working on more of an abstract feel. The pieces Kyle is currently working on are from our “Flow Series” – named after its movement. We will be introducing those pieces into the art shows (see the list of art shows we’ll be attending below) this year.
We generally take inspiration from the natural world. We’re not always trying to capture absolute realism, but incorporating characteristics of life. Taking inspiration from the illusion of reality or movement.
Our octophant sculptures are inspired by mythology. Kyle was always intrigued by mythology especially the chimeric creatures that were found throughout different cultures. He watches a lot of nature documentaries and noticed that the dexterity of an elephant’s trunk resembled the tentacle of an octopus. Kyle’s been trying to incorporate his characteristic flowing lines with African animals (giraffes, eland) and was excited about the prospect of an elephant hybrid. As a side note, elephants are one of the most intelligent land creatures, while octopuses are among the most intelligent of the sea creatures.
Kyle used to design outdoor living spaces (decks, patios, outdoor kitchens and fireplaces). He started his transition to fine wood working when he designed and built a 21st century version of a traditional Brazilian single string percussion instrument called a berimbau. The instrument he built was played on stage next to Yo-Yo Ma! Building the berimbau really developed Kyle’s interest in bending wood techniques and finally into what you see today.
Kyle and I have always loved art, whether it was drawing, painting or just creating. Kyle was surrounded by the art of woodworking since he was little as his dad was a master carpenter and carver. Much of his time was spent watching and helping his dad with his work. It almost seems fitting that he married a girl whose family owns a tree farm!
Since I’ve been back to school to complete a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, I have been taking a more administrative approach at Kyle Hawke. I do much of the paperwork: taxes, receipts, hotel and flight booking, etc. It’s not the prettiest end of the job but it definitely needs to be done. I give creative input and will also help with sanding and painting. My role was much more active last year; however, school is my number one priority at this moment in time. I’m hoping I can be much more active on the art side of the business once I’m out of school and have a consistent work schedule.
Kyle designs, creates and constructs the wood sculptures. My dad has a 90-acre tree farm where Kyle sustainably harvests timber (plant a tree in its place or remove dead standing/wind fallen trees) from the property. He has it milled by the local Amish and then lets it dry. Once it’s dry, he take the straight pieces of lumber and put life back into what was once living – creating flow and movement.
Kyle has a sketchbook that he keeps next to the bed in case he has an idea at 3 am. Brainstorming truly comes from what we see in nature and the places we go. He will sketch out ideas, head into the workshop to create a model and then work off of that. Once he has a piece that he feels is ready to sell, he’ll bring it with him to his next show and display it. After that, it leaves us and enters a new home, which we hope provides inspiration to the new owners.
In the future, we would like to expand our work and representation in galleries, public art installations and online presence. We would like to grow our art in both figurative and abstract forms.
We consider our whole business to be a success. We tried something relatively small and it grew into a successful, fun and exciting experience. We have evolved from very small local shows to nationally-recognised juried shows with other artists who we have the pleasure and honour to sell next to.
However, owning your own business does present its own challenges. The art is the fun part – the paperwork, not so much. We are constantly checking and rechecking to ensure we paid this or signed up for that. It’s sometimes difficult to keep track of what’s what but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you’re interested in creating a career in the arts or wanting to start your own business, we recommend that you: research, research and research. Also, ask for advice from others in the field. We sit at our computers scouring the internet for tips and tricks for our business. You have to know your career inside and out. Always ask those you admire for help and soak it all in.
The most valuable thing that we’ve learned through this process is to trust ourselves and to not be afraid to be different. It’s a different type of career all around. We go to art shows, amazing ones at that, and see the same thing over and over. You need to feel comfortable and confident in being the one that stands out (in a good way).
If you’re following your own dreams, be willing to try new, different and unique things. We never thought ten years ago we would be pursuing a career in the arts. It’s about finding the right fit and doing what you feel passionate about.
Thank you Kyle and Jenny for an insight into your artworks and business. If you’d like to view Kyle Hawke art, you can view their amazing art at the following art festivals this summer.
June 20-22 Lakefront Art Festival – Milwaukee, WI
June 27-29 Boston Mills Art Festival – Cleveland, OH
July 4-6 Cherry Creek Art Festival – Denver, CO
July 25-27 Bellevue Art Museum Art Festival – Seattle, WA
August 8-10 American Craft Council Show – San Francisco, CA
August 21-24 American Craft Exposition – Chicago, IL
August 29-31 Longs Park Art Festival – Lancaster, PA
September 27-28 Peoria Fine Art Fair – Peoria, IL
Special offer: Kyle Hawke is giving 5% off all sculptures and commissioned work to Yankee Doodles readers! Please quote “Yankee Doodles” when you speak to Jenny or Kyle of Kyle Hawke.
What’s your favourite Kyle Hawke artwork? I love the giraffes and the ash octophant. I also absolutely love my cherry oak bracelet that Jenny gifted me last year, which is from their previous collection. I wear it nearly every day as it goes with everything and is a little piece of Ohio that I carry with me in Scotland. x