PelotonPosts is an interview with a member of PelotonLabs, a co-working community in Portland’s West End. This month, Peloton’s founder Liz Trice caught up with Dylan Stewart, of Bold Coast Burns. He’s an artist that makes full size wood-burned fish, and is hosting his first solo show at PelotonLabs, opening First Friday, July 7th, from 5 to 8 p.m.
How did you start wood-burning fish?
I’ve been drawing fish since middle school. I always liked to draw and playing with clay, then started using Adobe software online. I went to school for Graphic Design at Emmanuel College in Boston, and wished I had gone to school for fine art. Everyone told me that illustration wasn’t a realistic path to go down, but a year and half ago, someone gave me a wood-burning pen as a gift. So I started playing with that, and I wanted to do bigger pieces. It would take me a month to do what I do with a wood-burning pen, so I started experimenting with torches. Today I use a whole variety of propane and butane torches, and use spatulas, spoons and cheese graters to shield the wood from the flame.
Didn’t you spend some time as a fisherman?
Yes, I was first mate on charter fishing boats for years as a summer job. I also dive and spearfish. I’m in the water most days, three seasons out of the year. I’m stocking the freezer in those months to get through the winter. I do a lot of bartering with the fish I catch. All my inspiration comes from being in the water.
Are you from Maine?
Yes, I grew up in Penobscot, Maine, near Bar Harbor, and was fortunate enough to grow up on the water. After college I moved to Boulder, Colorado, and got stuck there for a few years making laser-cut wood jigsaw puzzles for a company, and worked on an organic farm, and skied every free minute.
Where are you in your career, and where do you hope to go next?
I only started wood-burning a year ago, and still do some freelance illustration – mostly for fishing apparel companies, showing fishing techniques for fishing mechanisms, all fish. My business has been online up to this point, I’m looking forward to having a physical presence in Portland – like this show at Peloton, and also in galleries. This show at Peloton is a different sort of venue. It’s cool that Peloton members will see my work all day long for a few months. I would love to do a mural or installment piece somewhere – a huge wood-burned shark on the side of a parking garage, for example.
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