Callye Keen talks about one of his passions, art. But not art in a traditional sense, art from the perspective that the world's not all about super technical products and building drones with AI. We have little pieces of art all around us, and in this episode Callye shares a different perspective on everyday art.
Scott Alexander sits down with Callye to discuss his journey from art school, to working for a large catalog company, to managing a team, and ultimately feeling unfilled with Corporate America. Scott started making furniture in his garage as a hobby, using only hand tools to create beautiful masterpieces.
“I live in an area where I couldn't take a class. I'd have to fly halfway across the country to get to a qualified instructor. I hopped on YouTube, bought a couple of DVDs and dove in. Eventually I figured it out. I was awful at it for the first couple of years. Little by little, I've been turning now for seven years, I went full time in August of 2020.”
“You can really build whatever life you want, if you're willing to do the work. And for me, it has been about learning the craft, becoming truly great at it. Undeniably great at it."
[02:30] Acknowledge the spark
I cobbled together my first lathe from a bunch of parts. I taught myself how to turn chair parts. After I made about a dozen chairs my wife asked me “do you think you could make us a bowl for the house?” And that was it. That was the spark that started everything.
[04:00] When mentors become peers
I’ve become great friends with some of the world's best production woodturners. It's kind of unreal to be seven years in and be able to hop on the phone with some of these people. And they're not mentors anymore. I'm almost an equal, which is kind of a cool thing.
[05:10] Superior product
There really hasn't been any secrets to it other than a lot of hard work and trying to take care of customers. Just keep trying things, try to make a product that stands above its function.
[06:43] Long lasting products
That's the counterpoint to making something that lasts. You make something truly amazing, make something worth sharing and it lasts forever. You have the length of that product to impress somebody else.
[09:40] Buy for life
A small part of what I'm trying to do help people to realize that you can buy something and enjoy it every day. Something sustainable and well crafted. There's a growing movement to buy for life. And that movement is at at the intersection of ecologically and sound principles. Support entrepreneurs. Support made in America. Buy high quality products.
[12:15] Family business
I'm hoping that their daughter takes over that company and keeps running it the same way, and doesn't go the way that other US manufacturers have gone. I've seen some really great manufacturers cash out and sell to a big corporation. And then within two years, the brand is gone.
[13:53] Quality erosion
Picking up our phone we say, “oh, there's a new app. This old one's no good”. And it's contributed to this replacement economy. Tech products are a good example, your phone itself or the computer that I'm using. We understand that in six months, it's not so hot. And in two years it’s garbage.
[17:17] The choices we make
There are some things with our modern lives that are amazing. I just think that we need to take a step back and make sure that the things we're doing with our purchases, with our money, with our lifestyles are in our best interests.
“He's literally cutting down a tree. Chopping it up and making his own blanks. So from the ground to the finished bowl, and I love your content.”
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