Inspired by travel experiences and a with goal of excellence in craftsmanship, artist Andrew Fichtler creates sculpture and furniture made to last. See his website to view more of his work.
I haven’t exactly taken the normal path most people would think of for an artist. However, it’s an integral part of who I am and why I create.
I’m currently serving in the military as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician in the US Navy. Our job is to take care of any explosive, chemical, biological, or nuclear threats that might arise. It is a fast-paced lifestyle, which I love. However, it is easy to lose track of who you are and become consumed in the job. Woodworking and sculpture provide an opportunity to ground myself, focus on a particular task at hand and time for reflection.
I tend to get my inspiration for projects from a variety of different experiences. I’ve traveled extensively over the past fifteen years, both personally and for work. This has influenced me greatly. Traveling on vacation or with the military can be completely different or strikingly similar, depending on the circumstances and the people beside you.
I’m very fortunate to be able to say that I have worked with different nations from all over the world and with some of the best people I have ever met. The experiences and stories that have come from this have given me unique perspectives as well as new ideas. For example, while I was in Finland, I was told a personal story of one man’s grandfather fighting in the Winter War in 1939. He would carve designs into the wooden stock of his rifle at the end of each day. This story sparked the idea for the Bear Chair and a new style of furniture that I want to continue to develop and explore.
My style is difficult for me to pin down, but one thing I try my best to maintain is an emotional attachment to each piece. This does two things for me. First, it drives me to produce something that I am proud of and meets my own personal standards instead of pumping out a production piece and calling it good enough.
Secondly, when I put a bit of myself into the piece, I believe it comes through in the final product. My goal is to always come out on the other side with something people can feel and connect with. In today’s world of cheap, mass-produced furniture and the need for the newest versions of everything, I think that meaningful connections are a critical thing missing from most people’s lives. I’m trying my best to bring that back, piece by piece.
These days I’m selective about the projects I take on. I have quite a few ideas in the works for a series of larger unique wall hangings (so keep an eye out for those). However, finding the time is always a challenge. Balancing the military, woodworking, sculpture, and my family is a tricky one to say the least. Luckily, I have the best parents and brothers a guy could ask for, an amazing wife who helps in every aspect and I couldn’t do without, and two kiddos who do their best to drag me out of the shop to play and keep me young.
It may not be the normal life of an artist, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Andrew Fichtler invites you to follow him on Instagram.