A look at modern pyrography; passion ideology and creativity for the 21st century.
In the heart of the Annex, amidst the monumental glow of the Honest Ed’s sign, I enter Blair’s studio. I am overtaken with awe to find so much vegetation in the concrete core of the city. Hanging plants, cacti, blossoms and in between it all, pockets of wooden areas. Massive to mini, all sizes of solid wood canvas hung around the room, emblazoned with vivid images, the artwork of Blair.
Pyrogrophy. Now, I know I’ve heard of this before… it’s like Wood Burning, right? Except, this I’ve never seen.
“That’s because no one else does [it]. I’m used to creating my own technique. It’s like what I did when I was branding people.”
Blair has over 15 years of body modification and scarification experience under his belt, but his passion lies within the meticulously lacquered wooden canvases of his current art.
How did you transition from people to wood?
“I actually started with wood. In 1998, my first piece was a bed of nails. But the whole body modification world exploded and branding people became more popular. I created multiple strike branding and it [caught on] all over the world really fast. It feels like you’re painting with metal… on skin. I took a leave of absence from all of that in 2005 and went back to creating my art. It’s given me a lot of freedom to do what I want, not just what people want done. I used to do a lot of abstract paintings, but I like the little intricate structures I can create with wood burning. I’ve even managed to find room for a little bit of abstract work within the walls of my work.”
Housing structures within the innards of massive trees, these images have a sort of forest moon of Endor feel to them.
Was it difficult to leave the fame you had in the Body Modification world and switch mediums?
“It doesn’t matter if you’re famous or not. I just don’t worry about it. I keep focusing on the art.”
He says, not peeling his eyes away from his work. You can see the true dedication and love he has for this.
Your themes seem to be very nature oriented, where do you draw your inspiration?
“I’m influenced a lot by what I see in the world around me: farms, green roofs, wind turbines, Japanese micro houses, things that capture my attention. It’s definitely eco-friendly art, like living in the future … with nature. I’ve got these massive trees with little homes inside of them. It’s like a condo within nature, it shows that there’s so much more we can and should be doing to preserve the world around us. But all anyone ever looks at is the money. It’s just cheaper to knock off another building and make a quick buck. I definitely think a lot about the things that frustrate me in the world while I work. It’s not just the ideas that are green. I collect a lot of the tools I use from old scrap metal, anything from old pie servers, to the smallest washer I find on the street. Anything can be reused to make art.”
A combination of passion, ideology and creativity, Blair’s take on pyrography provides us with a fresh look at an old art. Containing sustainability not only within the message but in the art form, Blair applies his unique techniques to show us a mirrored image of what we could be. With stunning attention to detail and a natural feeling echoed by the medium these pieces are definitely something worth heading out to see.
One more question. Working with all these torches, do you ever burn yourself?
“Haha, my fingers get burnt a lot when I work!”
For more information you can contact Blair’s studio at (416)-453-0206 or via:
Interview & Photos by W.S.Rivera