BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR—it just might come true. Whoever said those words knew what they were talking about. It isn’t every day that someone walks up to you and hands you your dream job on a silver platter. We were lucky enough to have that happen to us, and I think we can truly say we never saw it coming!
About a year ago, a private collector asked us if we would paint his drum after he saw one of our custom painted drums. He wore the smile that all artists recognize when someone loves their work. Still, we had no idea if he was serious or just being polite. We had no clue how serious he was. One day we got the call, which went something like:
“…take your time, don’t rush…”
“…surprise me, I want it to look different…”
“…don’t worry about what it costs, just have fun…”
It’s not often we’re at such a loss for words. We got our wish; we just didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. There was enormous pressure to create something special. The pressure didn’t come from the collector’s request, his voice or even his eyes. It came from his sincere smile and the expectations he must have had when he approached us. More pressure came from within ourselves to return something that was worthy of the complete faith the collector put in us.
The challenge was to figure out a design that would not only please our benefactor, but please us as well, since we were undertaking a project that would undoubtedly require countless hours of work. From the first giddy high-fives
through the initial brainstorming sessions, all the way to the last brush stroke on the signatures and seals, it was a labor of love.
With his family and friends in tow, our benefactor visited us to meet his new drum. While he longed to see his drum, we greatly anticipated the look on his face. A few pleasantries were exchanged, then we stepped aside to allow him to remove the covering which hid the drum from view. There was a long moment of silence and stillness. He drew a deep breath and strode purposefully toward the drum. With deft grace, the cover was removed…
And there was that smile again.
If only every artist could savor the look on their patron’s faces when they see their commissioned pieces for the first time. It’s the kind of smile that nourishes artistsí souls and gives them the reason to continue creating the art they love. We wish to extend our heartfelt appreciation to our friend and benefactor who gave us his trust, confidence, and patience. His generosity and his smile will not be forgotten. We only hope his drum gives him and his audiences the same satisfaction we felt while working on it.
Jeff, Travis & Corey
P.S. We originally did not intend to put this drum on display on our site. Many of you dear readers know why. However, with our patronís encouragement and blessings to do so, we joyfully share these few pictures with you. We hope they bring you some small measure of enjoyment.
Coffee break’s over guys. Our friend ordered two
IT ALL STARTED WHEN SOME GOOD FRIENDS told me their daughter was terrified of lions. Even the small child-sized lion we displayed at home. I chose the name Fred because it sounded like a funny name for a lion. I told the little girl Fred was very shy and embarrassed because of his name, and that Fred wanted her to keep his name a secret. That made her laugh and cured her fear of lions.
Fred is the lion from my childhood years. I’m amazed that we didn’t destroy Fred with rough play. No doubt because he was placed high out of reach. When we started practicing with Fred, he suffered a tear in the black area of his mouth. Fred, like many other lions of this size and type, was not made to last. “I can fix that,” I thought, “and while
I’m at it, I might as well re-do the entire mouth. I know I can do a more careful job than this original.”
What’s different? Fred has a real tail with matching pants now—a far cry from the kind of tail that normally comes with lions of this type. He also has a beefed-up horn, blue fins above his eyes and around his gills, new parts, and an entirely new paint job. Lion head enthusiasts will instantly recognize the painting pattern as the signature style of Sifu Mok from Pak Wan Sports Company in Hong Kong. It’s my homage to Mok’s lion-making skills. His lofty contributions to the art will always be revered in the hearts and minds of those that have a deep appreciation of the art of lion making.
THIS VERY UNUSUAL PROJECT was commissioned by Southwest Airlines. The heart-shaped dragon pearl was envisioned as part of their latest advertising campaign. We worked with the photographer and the account executives to design this pearl, which was used in television commercials, print ads, billboards, bus stop posters, and calendars. Not wanting to cut corners in production methods, we built the pearl to withstand the rigors of actual use, and not just look pretty for the days of the shoots. So, if you saw this pearl being used in the Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade in San Francisco, you know where it came from.