While growing up in sunny San Diego, Calif., furnituremaker Lawrence Newman was frequently surrounded by wood, metal and tools. “My grandfather was a general contractor, so I spent a lot of time as a kid on his project sites,” he says. “I’d take things apart and try to get all the pieces back in order. Once I even took my grandfather’s chainsaw apart and put it back together, and it still worked.”
An unexpected trip to Oregon in 1992 changed the trajectory of mixed-media artist Vicki Grayland’s life. “I was on my way to Venezuela on an environmental vacation and then the organization canceled the trip because of the political situation there,” says. “I looked for something else to fill the slot and came to a tai chi retreat in Southwestern Washington, and in my version of the classic Oregon story, I saw how incredibly beautiful it was here and started planning to come back.”
When dog portrait artist Brian Vegter was working as a film and television cameraman in New York City, a friend of his opened an upscale pooch boutique in 2003. “I wasn’t getting film work I liked, so I took up the paintbrush again to make some paintings of dogs for the walls,” he says. “That turned out to be the beginning of a new career.”
With a mother who was an artist, Leah Nobilette says creating things was an integral part of her childhood. "My mother introduced me to art early, and we were always either taking art classes or just creating things," says the ceramic artist. "I’ve always loved making things. When I was a child, I was really into making little pieces of furniture out of sticks. I called it Fairy Furniture. I’ve always been very tactile in my art. I like art where you can touch the materials."