We had the good fortune of connecting with Bob Bruu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bob, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
After 32 years of being in corporate America, I’m making the bold move to finally move on, move away, move towards the dreams I’ve been keeping under wraps for so many years. I just turned 58 and I’m leaping out to focus on my art business. Some may think I’m more than crazy for leaving a really good paying and secure job. Especially with all of the unknowns right now. Maybe I’m nuts, but it’s time. It’s time to take action. Up until now I just haven’t been able to spend the necessary time to continue to refine my work, produce the amount of quality pieces I’d like to get out in front of people in the right way. I’ve been doing custom commission work for the past 5 years, keeping my backlog small intentionally. I was also in a gallery in Vail, CO, but had to pull out because I couldn’t keep inventory fresh. Now, I’ll be able to refocus, build out a healthy commission backlog and get back into key galleries across the country. There are also a handful of major national art shows that I’ve always wanted to get into. Hoping things get back to normal in 2021 and those opportunities present themselves. Now with only weeks to go before I depart Corporate, I’m setting the stage to hit the ground running in the next chapter of my life. On our property in Historic Downtown McKinney we have a 100 yr old barn that we started renovating four months ago. We’re almost done with the exterior and key elements in the interior. When complete this historic gem will be my Workshop, Studio and Gallery. It’s an amazingly unique space for an artist to create and be inspired. I can’t wait to get in and start creating art full-time. I figured I only have so much time with the hands that I’ve been given. I could’ve waited another year or two before leaving corporate. Always wondering if I have enough in the bank, is the timing right, what happens if something goes wrong, etc. I could come up with a dozen more reasons to stay. But is that what life’s all about? Or is it about taking chances? Chasing dreams? Doing purposeful work? I chose the latter. I’m very much a “universe will dictate” kinda guy. And things happen for a reason. So when the opportunity landed at work to take advantage of a “package”, I jumped at the chance. So, in just a couple of weeks, my mornings will be very different. No rush to the laptop to check emails or IMs. No more PowerPoint deadlines. No more office politics. Also, no more corporate paychecks, bonuses and benefits. It’s a trade-off for sure. It’ll be an adjustment. I’ll get nervous. There will be times when I may second guess myself. But when I take a deep breath and look around, I know I’ll be OK. I have an amazing person in my life that supports me and allows me to fail, knowing I’m learning and won’t make the same mistakes. She’s always there to root me on and pick me up. For that, I’m very thankful. So, next time you’re walking by The Barn in Historic Downtown McKinney and you hear music and lots of noisy tools, that’s just me carving out a new way of living. Just know there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
For over 25 years I’ve been carving wood. It’s my canvas. Each piece is a unique challenge. I try to capture a simple object’s personality, like a shirt, by giving it life, by giving it character.By taking a simple block of wood and allowing it to begin to form and shape, while fighting the need to be perfect, is something I aspire to everyday. The process allows the piece to form its own character, by which no two pieces are ever the same. I arrived at carving wood through an affinity for duck decoys. After attending a Duck Decoy Show in the late 1980s, I was invited to the local weekly Wood Carving Group Meeting. There I was given a block of wood, a knife and told to carve a bear. With that, my love affair with carving began. I moved from ducks and birds to more realistic subject matter, like hats, shoes and clothing a few years ago. My joy is seeing the engagement with my art. Driving the desire to touch and feel and to test the eyes. To question if it’s real or made of wood. With each piece I learn more about my abilities to create, to solve problems and grow in complexity. My work can be seen in regional and national art shows from time to time and I’ve been in galleries. Most of my artwork is driven by custom Commission requests. I will also have some pieces available for sale, from time to time, which are available on my Etsy site. A carving can take anywhere from 40 to 200+ hours, depending on the complexity of the subject matter. I mainly use Basswood and Tupelo. Both are traditional duck carving woods. I’ll use other woods, upon request. I complete my carvings in various ways; airbrush, acrylics, oils or wood stains. All depends on the final look I’m going for.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is filled with interesting places to explore. I would have to start with my own home town of McKinney. Spending a day walking around our Historic Downtown Square, visiting all the small shops and terrific restaurants is a must. Rye, The Yard and Harvest are some of our personal favorite places to eat. You can search for your favorite LP at Red Zeppelin Records or find a really cool European antique at Chase Hall. There’s a lot to see and do. I would then head down to Dallas and visit the Farmers Market for more great food, flowers and cool atmosphere. Once you’re done there, move over to the Bishop Arts District. Get some good old barbecue at the Lockhart Smokehouse and dessert at Emporium Pies. Then walk around all of the unique shops. Then to wrap things up, head over to Fort Worth. Get a taste of the old west by visiting the Ft Worth Stockyards, walk around Sundance Square and end up over at The Shops at Clearfork. Grab some Thai food at Malai Kitchen. While in Ft Worth you can venture over to The Zoo. Then plan for at least 2 days seeing all of the amazing museums; the Kimball, Modern Art Museum and Amon Carter.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are many to thank that have encouraged and supported me along the way. Growing up my Grandfather was my biggest mentor, he kept art on the forefront for me. Pushing me to explore my talents further. Today, I’m very fortunate to have someone in my life that keeps me inspired, allows me to take risks and fail, helps me back up and is always in my corner. Thank you Shannon.
All photos were done by me.