ARTIST INTERVIEW: Jack and Genne of Four Leaf Wood Shop
Four Leaf Wood Shop is the creation of Jack Gerard and his partner Genevieve Barrere. Together they create handmade wooden wares out of their woodshop in Ojai, CA. They started crafting after a big move from Calabasas, where they had been working long hard days and wanted a change. They decided to pack their bags, move to Ojai, and begin handcarving lovely wood utensils. Through their craft, they seek to elevate the everyday object into a work of art – creating objects that are uniquely beautiful and eminently practical.
We are thrilled to welcome Four Leaf Wood Shop to the Spring Fair, and we spoke to Jack about their creative journey.
Describe the path that led you to the work you do now. Did you take any big risks to get where you are?
Genne and I worked extremely hard, but we felt like we were not going anywhere with our jobs, and we wanted to be creative. We always wanted to make something that was truly ours and would allow us the ability to be our own boss. So we decided to drop everything and head to Ojai to start our business. It was a huge risk! We had a little money saved but no way to know if we could actually make it as artist. That was definitely our biggest risk.
What is the first memory you have of encountering art or the artistic process?
I grew up at museums and art galleries. My dad is an artist and always took us to every show opening! But my clearest memory of art would have to be when I was about 10 years old. I saw Van Gogh’s starry night for the first time, and I was instantly inspired. I knew at that moment I wanted to create and make things with my hands!
What are you artistic goals for the future? Next week, or next year, or 20 years from now?
My artistic goals have always been the same. Make things I have never seen before. I’ve always wanted to create something unique that makes people say, how did you do that? It’s a pretty euphoric feeling creating something that people don’t quite understand.
What are your most important artistic tools?
Books! I read a lot and I often find inspiration in words and sentences. It helps to focus your mind and see things a little differently.
Do you have a daily working routine? What is it like?
I always get to work at 9am, finish drinking my coffee, and sketch out my new ideas for the day. Then I carve a couple of them to see how they translate from paper to wood. They don’t always come out right, so it’s kind of a guessing game. After about an hour I usually go into something a little easier, like making a few coffee scoops or our standard round spoon. It helps to make a unique piece every day while still creating our best sellers, so to speak.
How does practicing your art or craft impact your life or way of thinking?
It’s funny, I can be walking down the street and see a shape and say to myself, that would make a great spoon handle! I kind of see spoons in every day objects. It definitely has an impact on my way of thinking, because it has shown me that everything can be used for creativity.
What do you do, or where do you go to seek fresh ideas or renewed creative energy?
I went to the academy of art in San Francisco and studied photography, so whenever I have a creative block I love to get out of the studio and just walk around and photograph the world. It’s very inspiring and often leads to new and beautiful ideas! Currently I live in Ojai and the scenery there is just spectacular. It definitely has a huge impact on my day to day life and my creativity as an artist. It helps to have the calm of a small town to keep me calm and motivated.
What other artists currently working do you admire?
I’m in love with ceramics, and I have a few friends who do amazing ceramic work! My friend Alanna at Bestow Pottery is one of my favorites! She makes super modern functional pieces and I’m always inspired by her work. I’ve also had a fascination with Dale Chihuly; his designs and ideas often inspire me to push the boundaries of my work.
Did you have any artists in your family, mentors, or other important creative influences?
My dad is a stone sculpture and a painter. He is my biggest influence. I use to sit in our garage and watch him paint and chisel for hours and always think about what he was doing. It made me want to work with my hands and create things like he does.