#WhyWeWeld: Doug Boyd
Doug Boyd is a custom metalwork artist and business owner based in Phoenix, Arizona. After years in the entertainment industry, Doug became a metal artist, learning new skills and working with different materials. He's now the owner of Artfully Rogue, which specialises in custom artwork, doors, furniture, and water features.
We chatted with Doug to learn about his experiences and advice for those getting started:
Can you tell us a bit about your journey in the trades? How did you get started, and what prompted you to take up a trade?
I spent a little over 25 years working in the entertainment business. While there I had the opportunity to wear many hats and learn a wide variety of skills. The majority of repairs and work happened with only minutes to spare before the show would start, so problem solving became second nature. When I left the entertainment business I got into the home repair business which slowly transitioned into doing custom projects. Welding was skill I had, but it wasn’t what I did on a daily basis.
One day, my girlfriend's boss told me about some industrial metal barn doors that he wanted in the office but the quote is had from a local company was too high. Although I had never made doors before I told him I’d make the door for half the price and he said ok. This started my journey to fabricating custom metal barn doors. To date I’ve made over a hundred and ship them all over the US. Now I have my own shop and all I do is build custom metal projects. Although I don’t make as many doors these days, I’m now making metal water features, and large-scale metal art.
How did you initially learn to weld?
I’m completely self-taught. My first welder was a gift over 20 years ago. It was a Lincoln WeldPak 100 fluxcore welder. One of my very first projects a full size metal dragon which I never really completed. My first paid welding gig was a metal flying saucer for a restaurant called the Red Planet Diner in Sedona Arizona. I used that same welder for all of my projects up until 2020 when I got my hands on the YesWelder Mig205DS. I’m so happy for the upgrade.
I took a look at your website, and the different work you do -- including creating artwork, doors, furniture, and water features. Tell me a bit about your creative process -- where do you start in creating these designs?
The design process usually starts with a client having an idea. I work with them and get their idea into a 3D drawing so we can see a mock-up of what they want. Sometimes that idea is very basic and other times its extremely detailed. We collaborate on the idea until the client is happy then we’ll start the fabrication process. I’ll send progress pictures so the client can see every stage of the project and we can make micro adjustments as needed. I have one project that I’ve been in the design phase for just over a year, for three large scale sculptures. So patience is often a huge plus when doing custom work.
What is the difference in the design and creation processes of something more abstract, such as your artwork, and something more utilitarian, such as furniture?
Most of the time I’m given free reign with the abstract art. For art, I may be given perimeters of size so it can fit in the allocated space, but the client allows me to simply create. With a project that is more functional, not only will I get input on size, but also on colors or textures. Often with the more utilitarian-type projects, the client is needing something to go into an existing space that already has a theme or specific style.
Beyond welding metals, can you tell us a bit about the different materials and mediums you use to create your pieces?
I would say that wood is the second-most used material in my shop. I’ll often use a variety of wood types for the reception desk and doors that I make. In my water features, I’ll use a variety of plumbing and electrical elements. In the large scale work called The Motherboard, I used aspects of technology to create motion activated led lights.
You mentioned that you always have exciting projects ongoing -- do you have any recent creations or art installations that you can share with us?
I just finished fabricating the largest water feature I’ve done to date. It is currently at the powder coating getting painted. And we just installed a full-size food truck façade in Sedona Arizona. The three sculptures that I’ve been working on for the past year have finally gone to the engineering phase. And hopefully move to the permitting phase soon. Once that happens we will start fabrication. The sculptures are based on STEM education for a local school. One is a mix between Newtons Cradle and the Pi symbol and another consists of large 8’x8’ building blocks and then a Double Helix DNA structure.
Not only do you create a variety of pieces, but you also run a business. Can you give us your advice for others in the trades who want to pursue a more creative line of work?
Be persistent. In the beginning, try to say yes to every project even if you’re not sure how you’ll build it. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you grow and you expand your knowledge and skill level. Remember when I said I’d build the metal doors for my girlfriends boss? I had never built doors before but I took the job. I knew I could weld and I knew I could look at other doors to figure out what was needed. My first set of doors weighed about 200lbs per door but over time I refined the process, I cut the materials, cost and weight in half.
Take advantage of all of the tools available in today's business world. Social media opens the door to a global market. No longer are people stuck selling local. Work on putting together multiple streams of income. Make a project. Sell a kit of that project to the DIY person. Sell an e-book of that project. Become an affiliate to companies that fit your type of work.