This season, we are taking stock of our relationships and the things that matter most to us, and in that spirit, we invited our in-house graphic designer, Eric Darrow to share how this mindset relates to both his life and his work at Schoolhouse Electric.
In addition to his graphic design talents, Eric is a woodworking artist and his current woodworking activity of choice is producing one-of-a-kind cigar box guitars. We spent time with Eric and learned more about what his craft entails and how it pushes his creativity to new heights...
What is your role within Schoolhouse?
I am the in-house graphic designer. I handle the visual design of collateral for our website and catalog. I also design tags and boxes for products, create the faces of some of our clocks and pretty much anything that requires that kind of design eye.
In line with our slowing down campaign, what would a "slow" kind of day look like for you?
I really enjoy spending time with friends, family and my two sons, preparing and eating great food and sharing laughs. I also like to occupy myself with projects I can do with my hands. It may sound a little active when it comes to slowing down, but it’s therapeutic for me and very grounding. I attempt to keep a good work/life balance to ensure these moments happen and I find my time spent woodworking is always time well-spent.
How did you first get involved with your craft? What advice can you give to other makers out there?
Woodworking has always been something that I've enjoyed. I come from a long line of makers. My family always just made stuff. I think because that’s what their families did. We just didn’t know any better. For my fifth birthday I begged for a set of woodworking tools and got them. To this day, have both eyes and all of my digits. Over the years, I honed my skills on home improvement projects and a handful of furniture pieces.
Fast forward to my early forties when I read an article about cigar box guitars. The post civil war versions were created from readily available materials (broomsticks and boxes) to fulfill the desire to make music at a time when the availability of instruments and the money to buy them was a challenge. American ingenuity. I had to give it a try.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I feel my tastes are pretty eclectic. Cars of the 50s. Sam Maloof, a furniture designer/maker extraordinaire. Midcentury modern design. Craft beer.
What are some of your favorite moments while making your guitars?
By far the most effort put into these guitars is shaping the neck, as it's these small details that create an instrument that plays well. It’s also a kick to work on the overall final design by choosing a box, neck material, control knobs, and tuners. That’s one of the most fulfilling parts. Hearing the first few notes from the guitar for the first time is fun too. Because all boxes are different, no two guitars sound completely alike.