When that feeling inside you stirs and you’re overcome by the flow of creativity coming from some mysteriously magical place deep inside your soul surely you’ve found your passion.
I first gripped the handles of a chainsaw in 1999 at an ice carving workshop and a passion for carving was born. There isn’t a medium that I haven't found some form of love and appreciation for - ice, snow, soapstone, styrofoam, wood, steel. The act of bending and shaping things that don’t really want to bend and shape is a challenge I love. Throughout all the other mediums however, the ice beckoned louder, longer and stronger.
I entered the carving competition circuit competing across Canada at local, regional, national and international competitions in both ice and snow carving and have a proud collection of accolades which have placed me at each tier on the podium in my carving career. Bear in mind that I had promised myself that if I ever found myself entering “to win” I’d hang up the chainsaws. I'm proud to say that to this very day I have never carved to win - I've always and only ever carved for the sheer love of carving. A passion driven by the act of creating beauty from the chaos of a whirring steel chain.
A man of principle, my very first, 1st place finish came on a return to a competition on Vancouver Island. It was here the year prior that I suffered my first (and hopefully only) chainsaw injury. I was rushed off to the hospital mere seconds into the competition after catching my hand in the bottom of the saw (you know, the part where the chain feeds itself back into the saw - and anything it might have grabbed onto...like a hand). With those untouched blocks of ice weighing on my conscience for the entire year afterwards, I returned to the competition and let my passion flow - creating my first place entry “God of Fire”.
"WHEN YOU SUPPORT AN ARTIST YOU'RE BUYING MORE THAN AN OBJECT. YOU'RE BUYING HUNDREDS OF HOURS OF ERRORS AND EXPERIMENTATION. YOU'RE BUYING YEARS OF FRUSTRATION HIGHLIGHTED BY MOMENTS OF PURE JOY. YOU'RE BUYING A PIECE IF AN ARTIST'S HEART, A PIECE OIF THEIR SOUL...A SMALL PIECE OF THEIR LIFE ITSELF."
I have brought the magic of ice and snow sculpture to Western Canada and beyond every winter since 1999. Eventually I found that I was getting so many regular bookings through the season that I no longer had time for the competition scene (or the added stress it involves). On the urging of a fellow carver and friend, I returned to competition in 2015 where my passions were reaffirmed with another first place finish - some five years since my last competition.
After all those years of ice and snow carving curiosity got the better of me so I took my tools to a piece of wood “just to see”. To my delight (and surprise) all of the same neurons that ignite when I'm carving in the cold fired right up. The medium was a natural bridge for me and I'm so happy to not have to put the tools away when the snow goes anymore.
There’s also something to be said for carving in a t-shirt and shorts - even if you've got carving chaps over the shorts.
I have always loved every aspect of carving but the one part I find I love more than any other is the performance of the art itself. My heart beams when I hear sounds of amazement and delight from all the children (and the grownups) who happen upon me while I work. To see the delight and awe in the faces of the onlookers is more rewarding than the biggest of commissions. The thought that maybe, just maybe I can inspire one of these people to create is exactly why I will quite often stop mid-cut just to give a smile and a wave.
A full time artist, I have owned and operated a successful animation & design studio since 2002. Between work and carving, my VERY supportive wife and I are raising two beautiful daughters. It’s a pretty safe bet that neither of them will be too reluctant to grab a chainsaw one day. Wouldn’t that be magic…the VonTrapsaws!
It's my hope that when you catch me hard at work you are inspired and at the very least smile at all the sawdust (or snowdust) gathering on my head...especially knowing the trouble that the sawdust gets me into when I head inside the house.