Jason Wood is a super talented, super diverse artist who lives in sunny Florida and works at the place “where dreams come true,” Disney Parks’ Universal Studios, where he has been helping to build magical creations since 2011. As a scenic artist and carpenter, Jason was a part of the team who built Diagon Alley (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter) and Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at SeaWorld.
In addition to his work with Universal Studios and SeaWorld, Jason has also worked with HGTV on “Theme Queens.” During the TV show, Jason carved a large dragon bed. He says that as a scenic artist in a city known for theme parks, it’s a great job to have…except at this particular time!
Jason is currently working at the airbrush booth at Universal CityWalk, which he says is very much like a big party entrance to both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
“I was blessed with a talent for art in my life, so pretty much any job I do is art related, and all the theme parks in central Florida utilize artists.”
Jason recently entered Flexcut submission-based #flexcutpiratecontest, which required entrants to carve and submit a pirate-themed piece. We’ve been a fan of Jason’s for a long time and we decided it was time to learn a little more about our friend, and to give his art the spotlight it deserves.
How long have you been creating art and what different types of art do you like creating besides carvings?
“Fun story: When I was five years old, my mother put me on a plane to fly from Florida to Arizona, and gave me $5. When I got off the plane, I had $7, two chocolate chip cookies and a pilot lapel pin! Like I said, I was blessed with the ability to do art. I’m not the best at it, nor do I know how to do everything, but I love creating and making things. When I was a little boy on that plane, I drew pictures that earned me cookies from a lady In First Class, $2 from a couple of other people on board and a visit to the pilot in the cockpit.”
How did you get started in carving?
“I actually started spoon carving first. So, I would travel around and do arts and crafts shows for fun, meet people, and make extra money. I refurbished chairs and built new chairs out of old leather belts woven together—and I used to take them to shows and sell them. During this time, my father made a slew of spatulas and said, “take these with you—I don’t know, sell them for $5 a piece.” For about a year, every art show I did, I tried to sell those damn spatulas. I never did.
One day, I was trying to stir a pot of something, and the spoon I was using seemed to be made for a right-handed person (I’m left-handed.) I thought to myself: I need a left-handed stirring spoon. Because my father had given me all those spatulas, I decided to use one of them to carve a spoon. Well, that one spoon had me hooked on carving from then on.”
Can you tell us more about your airbrush art?
“In 1988, I moved from Florida to a little town in East Tennessee in the Smoky Mountains called Pigeon Forge, to take care of my mother who had cancer. Because I have an ability to create art, and because it was a tourist town, an owner of a store put up $500 for my first set of airbrushes. I learned how to airbrush out in front of his store, practicing (some days) in a foot of snow with a pair of Jersey gloves in a 10’ x 10’ airbrush booth. I stayed there for 25 years.”
What is the most rewarding part of creating? What is the most challenging?
“Without a doubt, the most rewarding part is making something for someone and them loving it. It makes me feel good when I give something to somebody. It’s very rewarding. I love gifting things to people who I love and making people happy with what I create. What I make, I love to share with people who I love, including processes, knowledge and skills, especially with younger generations. I want the things that I know and the knowledge I have to be passed on to people younger than me so they can pass it on to people younger than them eventually. That’s how it should be.
The most challenging part, truthfully, is not having enough money to buy all the things you want to buy to create all the things you want to create!”
What’s your creative process like?
“Really, I’m a sketcher. If I were to say I actually have a process, it would be that I like to sit and listen to what’s on the TV and I literally start sketching things out of my head or Googling references of things I would like to draw. Then I sketch them with a pencil, typicalling coming back later with a marker (depending on what I’m doing and with what wood). I often use a power tool of some sort to cut out the main shape of whatever I’m creating if it’s a larger piece.”
How did you come up with your idea for the Pirate Spoon?
“Well, I started off by Googling pirate pictures, and, of course, 85% of the results were Captain Morgan-related, so I had to come up with my own ideas! Ha! I basically thought about how Captain Morgan is depicted standing on a barrel of rum and turned it into a treasure chest. I sketched out the face and other details to be my own pirate, and painted him differently to make him unique.”
What’s something you’ve created that you’re most proud of? Why?
“There are so many things that I’ve made with my own hands. There have been times that I have been amazed at what I was making and I’m always very proud when I’m done. Don’t get me wrong, there will always be details that I will see that I’d like to improve, but I’m still learning.
One of the things that I’m really proud of is a wooden hair pin I carved for my daughter. It was of Jesus on a cross. I’m not a very religious person but my daughter is, and whenever my kids ask for anything, it’s a joy to make them what they want. It was awesome that I was able to create something that my daughter really loved, and when I was done with it, it was definitely a one-of-a-kind piece.”
If you could offer some words of wisdom to a new artist, what would it be?
“I will make this really short and really sweet: three words: practice practice practice. Until you feel comfortable, and the day comes that it’s not practice anymore, it’s profit.”
Which Flexcut tools do you own and what do you like most about each?
I own a lot of Flexcut Tools– there are some of my favorites:
- Left-Handed Carvin’ Jack (JKNL91)
- Custom-carved handle Sloyd Knife (KN50)
- Stub Sloyd Knife (KN53)
- Spoon Carvin’ Jack (JKN96)
- Whittlin’ Jack (JKN88)
- 1.5mm Micro Deep U-Gouge (MT27)
- Detail Knife (KN13), KN13 also avail in 3-pc Starter Set (KN500)—and in the Beginner Palm & Knife Set (KN600)
- Mini-Detail Knife (KN27)
- 3” Draw Knife (KN25)
Submitted by Flexcut