Artist Spotlight: Dave Kodama
Dave Kodama grew up in Toronto and spent his early adulthood in British Columbia. Now he runs Kenichi Woodworking in Carbondale, where he makes everything from custom furniture to bike racks, much of which is available at etsy.com/shop/KenichiWoodworking. The Post Independent recently caught up with him to talk about his work.
What brought you to here?
My wife’s family has been in the valley for a few generations, so when we got married she wanted to be closer to them. Moving away from Whistler, I thought I’d be moving back to British Columbia after a few years here, but I’m going on six, and it’s home now.
How did you get into wood?
I started carpentry after being a bartender and ski bum. It was a whole ’nother world. I wasn’t tied to the tourist dollar as much, and I had the opportunity to start being creative working with wood.
What attracted you to it?
It’s such a beautiful natural medium. I love everything about it — the smell of it, the feel of it, the look of it, working with it. I love that moment when you’ve created something and it’s time to put a finish on it, and the entire look of the wood becomes something completely different. It’s an evolution of the tree to the final product.
Have you found your own style?
When clients get in touch with me and leave the style and design up to me, that’s really when I get to tap into my own creativity. I like really simple clean lines without a lot of extravagant profiles.
What’s your most exciting item?
The hats are one product I get great feedback on, from the public and professionally. I’ve always worn a lot of hats, and I always knew I wanted to integrate wood into that somehow. I did a lot of work to come up with this process. I’m collaborating with some local and national artists putting their designs on them. A lot of companies get in touch with me about using them for marketing and branding as well.
Is it hard to put a price on it?
I want my product to be attainable, but when people are looking for prices from Ikea as the norm, it can be hard to sell at a handmade price. I struggled with that for a while, but some really close friends who understand the process helped me be a bit more confident in what my product is worth.
I’m going to get my own laser machine. I’m outsourcing right now, and it’s holding me back from achieving my creative potential. On the furniture side, I’ve been making a lot of stuff for tiny houses. It’s a fun challenge to work with a small space and make it functional, cool and aesthetically pleasing.
Anything else to share?
My son, Josa Kenji, is definitely the most important thing in my life right now. Everything I do is for him. Our first child died shortly after childbirth, so Josa is extra special. He’s our rainbow child. He’s always had a personality, but now he’s 15 months old, and he’s tearing around. Every day is a new discovery, and it’s so amazing to watch and be a part of, and I love it.
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