With GeekCraft Expo PDX just two weeks away, now is the perfect time to check in with another of our fantastic returning exhibitors: Truax Designs, creators of amazing metal sculptures! We chatted with Mark Boehly, who also provided responses from his business partner Christopher Truax.
BUT FIRST, SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, DO NOT READ THIS INTERVIEW!
GeekCraft Expo: You exhibited with us last year for the very first GeekCraft Expo PDX: what’s changed for you in the past year?
Truax Designs: Last year we received a bunch of media coverage from our participation in GeekCraft. It was our first "geeky tradeshow” we’d been to. This opened new doors to discovering our true demographic. A lot of people saw us on Good Day Oregon, and that was enough exposure to turn a hobby into a full time job. April 1, 2017 was the Grand Opening of our new gallery in Historic Downtown Oregon City, called Truax Gallery. We feature our Karbon Kast line of fine metal art, our reclaimed auto parts robot series titled "Thunderbots," and many other unique sculptures. We’re both from Oregon City, so it's nice to have a storefront so close to home and in our local community.
GCE: How did you get started with metal sculpture?
TD: Chris's family owns a Thunderbird restoration and parts company in West Linn called The Bird Nest. He grew up around old Thunderbird cars and spent many hours tinkering with parts. When Chris was a boy he had a knack for creating his own robots using the plastic scraps from old model kits. It was just a matter of time before his artistic skills kicked in at the shop.
In 2008, I met Chris at Clackamas Community College in a sculpture class. Chris had his Thunderbot, Lily, on display and I wanted to get to know the artist behind it. We became great buddies but ended up losing contact later that year. After graduating in 2013 from Portland State University I randomly went to one of Chris’s metal art shows. We reconnected and decided it was time to put our skills to use. I started as the company’s graphic and web designer and now Chris and I build the metal sculptures together.
GCE: Can you explain your “Karbon Kast” technique?
TD: Our Karbon Kast technique is a trade secret. The process took over 10 years to develop and it's inspired by cinema; specifically, science fiction such as Star Wars and Aliens. We wanted to rethink what art truly is by building a modern-day fossilization. Essentially, we freeze an item (yes, the real thing!) in aluminum. The rest of the process is movie magic. We often capture prints from famous pop culture icons or old technologies, because eventually these items will become lost forever.
GCE: You’re obviously a fan of Star Wars/Han Solo, so tell us: how did you feel about Han being killed by his own son in The Force Awakens?
TD: “I was heartbroken” was Chris’s first response. I, on the other hand, had seen a spoiler before the movie came out, so I was expecting it. I felt like his death was predictable. Chris says he chose not to read spoilers to maintain the surprise and preserve the magic of the series.
GCE: What are your favorite types of pieces to make?
TD: Chris’s favorite pieces to make are his Salvador Dali-inspired animal metal sculptures. He finds an organic, almost rhythmic, flow to his art making process when working on these sculptures. I really like working on the digital media side of Truax Designs. I’ve been able to mold and sculpt our brand on the web and am inspired to continue to make a digital impression with our art. Karbon Kast is also one of my favorite types of art to create.
GCE: Which geek character do you relate to most?
TD: Chris relates to Tony Stark because he’s always in the lab working on his latest and greatest project. Chris is frequently in his own shop coming up with something new. Iron Man is a bad a$$ mogul. I relate most to Oliver Queen when he becomes the Green Arrow. Like him, I become obsessed with completing a mission and forget the important things around me. He has to be reminded that he’s human and needs to come back to reality. I also have to be put in check and am appreciative to my loving girlfriend for keeping me grounded.
GCE: What is your funniest/most surprising memory about GeekCraft Expo 2016?
TD: Our best memory of GeekCraft Expo 2016 was our Good Day Oregon interview and meeting Daniel Way in the hallway afterwards. We had a great conversation and an opportunity to present him with a one-of-a kind Karbon Kast Deadpool. The next best memory is meeting awesome geeks who share our love for our art!
GCE: What kinds of pieces will you bring to the show this year?
TD: This year we have even more Star Wars-inspired and pop culture pieces. We have more variation in color, frame styles, and sizes for people to choose from. As always, we will have some mind-blowing sculptures and other unique, single-run Karbon Kast pieces on display. Our portfolio of commissioned pieces has grown too, and we’re looking forward to sharing the endless possibilities with future Karbon Kast collectors.
Our thanks to Truax Designs for the great interview! See them and more at GeekCraft Expo PDX June 10 and 11--RSVP now. Don't forget about our massive kickoff party June 9!