Today we are honored to introduce Kevin Caron and his wife and cohort in business, Mary Westheimer. Kevin is a sculptor based out of Phoenix, Arizona who has turned his passion for sculpting metal into a full time career. Find out how they did it in our interview with them today...
Meylah: Tell us a little about yourself and how you became a sculptor.
Kevin: I’m a self-trained artist. Before this, I drove an 18-wheeler. In about 1998, we needed a privacy screen at our house. When I made it, I had fun, and people loved it. Then I made a fountain out of the same material. More compliments. When people began paying me, I began creating fountains, bells and sculptures part-time. I became a full-time sculptor in 2006. I’ve had more than 30 commissions, and have work in public and private places from coast-to-coast. My public sculpture “Hands On” won the 2009 Westmarc Award for Arts & Culture. And I’m still having fun.
Meylah: Please tell us the story behind the Mighty Owl Oak piece.
Mary: The Mighty Owl Oak project grew out of another piece Kevin did for a school, the Bronco Brand Birch. While attending the Rancho Santa Fe art show, Kevin met a mother from the Litchfield Park Elementary School PTSA who wanted to do a similar project with their students.
Their school also had a planter under an opening in a roof in which they couldn’t keep anything alive, which makes it perfect for a metal tree. Kevin and I cut 1,000 leaves out of copper, upon which the students, teachers and staff did repousse, the art of inscribing in metal so each leaf is personalized with whatever the person wished to put on it. The tree was installed over the winter holiday break. It was raining the day the kids came back in January. Here’s what Lisa Pavlet, the mother who coordinated the project, told us:
"The tree looked so beautiful with the rain falling on it. Many children were standing around it, even in the rain, trying to find their leaves. Every time I go by the tree there are children, parents or teachers standing around it. It is wonderful to see the kids bring their parents into the school to see the tree and their leaf. Some classes have wanted their picture taken in front of it for the yearbook. Principal Sterr loves it also. We couldn't be more pleased."
People particularly love this piece – we often get compliments on it from public art committees.
Meylah: How do you decide which shows and events you will be involved with?
Mary: It’s usually a mixture of who will attend the event, who it benefits, where it is and when it is. It has to correlate to Kevin’s goals, too. This is one of those situations where having a business plan really helps. Just thinking about what Kevin wants to achieve overall helps us decide what we want to do on a finer level, too (and we follow our guts).
Meylah: You’ve had a lot of success on your Kevin Caron YouTube channel with over 225,000 views, what tips can you share for other artists hoping to get started or hoping to gain a larger audience on YouTube?
Kevin: Some of the most important tips are:
- Have patience. It took more than a year before the videos took off.
- Put together a decent presentation. Think about all the things you hate in a video, and don’t do them (reduce background noise; talk to people, not at them; keep the videos short and to the point). Our videos are pretty raw, but they’re pretty real, too.
- Pay attention to what’s working and do more of that. This depends upon your goals, of course.
- Respond when people ask you questions, make comments, etc. It’s made a big difference to have a community.
- One simple action also had a big effect on subscriptions: We put a screen at the end asking people to subscribe. That increased subscriptions dramatically.
Meylah: Is there any advice you wish someone had given you before becoming a full time artist?
Kevin: Don’t take it so seriously.
Meylah: What are you up to when you don’t have a torch in hand?
Kevin: Riding my motorcycle. Playing on the computer. Letting my imagination run through the grassy fields of my mind (did I just say that?).
Thank you so much Kevin and Mary, it’s been a privilege and from here on out, I’ll think of you every time I pass a beautiful metal sculpture!