How long have you been making pyrography art?
Tim Yow: I did my first piece in November of 2017. Not thinking it would be something I would continue or even be good at, I bought a cheap woodburning pen, a piece of basswood, and some carbon paper for tracing, I and found a cute picture of a log cabin with a backdrop of trees, traced it on the board and went to work. My wife is a bit obsessed with log cabins and I joked that this was the best I could do, and gifted it to her when I was done.
What are your influences? Who or what inspires you?
Tim: In 2006, I went to an art festival on the college campus in my hometown, in downstate Illinois. I met an elderly gentleman named John Greathouse there, who had a booth for his woodburning art. It was the first I heard of pyrography, and I was fascinated, to say the least. This occurred just as I was making a career change and was looking for web design clients. After talking to John and admiring his work, I offered to create a gallery website to display his art, at no charge, and if someone buys one of his works as a result of this online “display case”, I would get a percentage of the sale price. This was before DeviantArt and Etsy, when no one was buying art online so it was a losing venture, but I had fun doing it. I got to know Mr. Greathouse, and learned a lot about this art form through him.
I have also admired the art, from a distance, and learned so much from Minisa Robinson, who has since re-branded her YouTube channel as Wood Burning University. You haven’t lived until you have examined one of her burns of old steam engine trains. All of her works are nothing short of astonishing and inspiring!
Do you create art with a specific message? Or do you prefer art for arts sake?
Tim: At this stage, I’m just obsessed with new challenges so my work is all over the board, no pun intended. As a result, I definitely fall into the category of art for arts’ sake. That’s not to say I won’t be creating symbolic pieces with a focus on freedom. I have an idea I’m hoping to tackle soon that would best be summarized as a deteriorating Lady Liberty. Since the concept is still very much evolving, its hard to say what the end result will look like, but I know I’ll have a blast doing it. But again, to date, I have kept my politics out of my artwork.
What is your creative process like? What tools and methods do you use to do your pyrography?
TIm: Since falling in love with this art form, I really have become a danger to anyone in the vicinity. The moment I see a fascinating tree, elaborate old architecture, or an amazing shoreline that could be my next burn, I’ll immediately pull off a busy highway or beeline through any crowd to get a picture. These days, I’m always on the lookout for something that would look great using only burnt gradients, not color (or at the most, minor accent colors). I spend a lot of time on stock photography sites and, more so lately, delving into their vector images that will work for the concept in my head, at any given moment. And, to be perfectly honest, I’ll never get to 70% of the burns I have imagined or photos I have saved on my devices.
Regarding tools, I have my original cheap Weller woodburning pen, because it has an excellent variety of burn tips. However, the bulk of my work is done with a newer Walnut Hollow burner that has a dial for temperature control and better flexibility. In addition, I was recently gifted a small butane torch that was intended to be for crème brûlée but comes in handy for making smooth, dark backgrounds.
How long have you considered yourself a libertarian?
Tim: I learned of Libertarianism in 2012, when a coworker told me about Gary Johnson and his candidacy for President. I got curious about him, and about libertarian principles in general, and the moment I read the national Libertarian Party platform, I realized it sums up my views better than any other political party or philosophy. At the time, I was having significant internal struggles with a lot of the evangelical, right-wing views that I claimed to embrace for much of my adult life. So, from 2012 to February of 2016, I called myself libertarian, but wasn’t really active in the fight for liberty. It was that winter when I began delving into volunteer work, including years of state party leadership in Michigan.
What do you think the role of art should be in the libertarian movement?
TIm: Truth be told, I suspect it will be the creative community that will have the most significant impact in bringing liberty back to this nation and around the world. I am a music enthusiast, and I see that art form doing far more than our yelling from behind makeshift podiums or handing out flyers promoting our liberty-minded candidates and their views or even holding an office (in most cases.) There is a place for all of those activities, but, so often, art opens the ears and the mind to a message that people would otherwise ignore or even scoff at.
Where can people go to find your art?
Tim: I just launched an Instragram account dedicated to my artwork @scorched.tree and a Facebook page under the same moniker, Scorched Tree Pyrography. I suspect it will take a while to launch my website, but for those who would like to inquire about custom/commission work, you can message me through those two social media channels or email email@example.com.
I would also like to add a big “thank you” to you, Jaron, for all you are doing to promote libertarian artists! Keep up the good work!