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Meet Artist Chad Hogston

This week we are featuring wood burning artis Chad Hogston ( @CapeFearTorch). He is sharing his passion for the ocean through his art. We love seeing projects like this and are excited to share his shark story!

See Chad's work on his INSTAGRAM page

1. What is your favorite shark and why?

The Whale Shark. From an artist's perspective, the Whale Shark's markings and movements make for a fantastic subject. Super graceful, they bring a calm to the surrounding environment. Whenever I see them, it seems more peaceful.

2. What is one species of shark you would like to snorkel/dive with?

See #1, haha! Also, I would have to say that hammerheads would have to make for a pretty stimulating dive.

3. How did you get started with your artwork? Can you tell us a little about your pieces and how you create them?

in my "real" job, I'm always being very analytical and solving problems in an adversarial environment (I'm a District Court Judge in North Carolina). Outside of work, I enjoy diving into the aspects of life that bring me a lot of joy - creating art is one of those things. I used to paint in the past, but put that down and did nothing artistically-inclined for many years. Roughly 2 years ago, I came across the technique of pyrography (wood-burning) and figured I'd give it a shot. With some basic supplies picked up at the local hardware shop, I went home and attempted my first piece - a Sheepshead. It came out pretty good, and I was hooked! From there and did some things for friends, then locally people started to take notice and actually commissioned me to do pieces for them. I started an Instagram page when interest grew, and it's taken off from there. Had you told me 2 years ago that people would not only enjoy my art, but commission me to do pieces for them, I would have said you were crazy! It's been such a pleasant surprise and a blessing. The added joy comes because both my father and my 8 year-old son, Levi are also creating pieces. So, we have 3 generations in our family participating in the process! Levi has even started his own Instagram page, @thesharkeye.

The basic process is using butane torches to slowly burn the desired image on wood. I like to use either Birch or Poplar, which are both very good mediums for accepting the flame from the torches. I will often use pieces of metal to partially shield the flame in order to produce the right effect on the wood. Determining what works and what doesn't takes time, and my technique has matured a lot as I've progressed in this pursuit. Once I'm satisfied with the image, I cut it out and apply a couple layers of UV protected epoxy resin to it. This really brings out the grains of the wood, and also creates "depth" in the piece. It's tough to completely show the full spectrum of the pieces through a photo. Seeing them in person gives you a full appreciation for each piece.

4. Why did you start creating shark and ray pieces?

In the beginning, I did mostly side profiles of fish/turtles/etc. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that a "top-down" perspective would be a very dramatic view. I ran across an image of a whale shark by @jesshaddenphoto that was perfect, and I went for it! From there, I wanted to do an Eagle Ray in the same perspective, and @andycorbe had the perfect reference image. Both of these pieces have gotten an immense amount of positive response, so I plan on doing more. Both @jesshaddenphoto and @andycorbe were super stoked to see what I had done, and that made me very happy. I've done a Great White and Mako in the past. Soon I will being doing a Great Hammerhead for the one and only @biminisharkgirl!

5. How does art impact and help conservation?

The great thing about art is that it very emotional. It pulls on our spirits, our natural inclination to celebrate and worship. And the cool thing about it, each person is drawn to their own likes and interests. You can never predict what piece/photo/whatever will draw attention and reaction from people. It is unique. But, when someone sees something they like, they like it. They adore it. Why the person is drawn to it cannot be explained, and I don't think it needs to be. But it is in our nature to be moved by things, and that sets us apart. So, if we can produce art that moves people in a direction of adoration towards a subject (sharks, rays, the oceans), they will want to protect it, cherish it, celebrate it. Art, in every medium, helps the cause. People desire to protect the things they find worthy, beautiful and meaningful.

6. What message do you hope people take away from you art?

I'm hopeful that when people view my art, it adds to their excitement and "stoke" for the subject, whatever it might be. I still get the goosebumps every time a see someone respond with a smile and delight to one of my pieces. It is a privilege to be able to do that, and I am thankful for being given the ability to provide some joy. There's a lot of negativity and adversity in this world, and it gets most of the attention. Wouldn't it be nice to spread a little more joy?

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