November 08, 2018

Q&A with Ignite Maker-in-Residence Geoff Davis

Geoff Davis Maker in Residence Wood Working
By: Katelyn Coyne

Geoff Davis is Ignite Studio’s inaugural maker-in-residence! He’s the first to move into our maker-in-residence studio space, the first to meet and work with HEPL patrons, and the first to share with Ignite users what it looks like to be a professional maker/artist. He is a nationally recognized folk artist and Hamilton County native, who draws from a wide variety of traditional disciplines to create striking carved sculptures and ukuleles. As a recently retired career educator, Geoff also has vast experience in facilitating the learning process, which he has put to good use in a variety of programs for patrons in Ignite Studio. We sat down with Geoff to pick his brain about his creative process:

Ignite: How did you get your start as a maker/artist?

Davis: I believe that we are all born with a powerful drive to create. Because Humankind no longer relies on creativity to survive other distractions have pushed natural creativity from many people’s lives. I was blessed to have parents who provided me with tools and opportunities — as well as modeling — to cultivate my natural creativity. These same opportunities — access to tools and materials and freedom — also allowed me to develop the strong hand and spatial skills required to realize my projects.

This natural drive is the foundation of everything I do. When I spent time on the water I learned to build boats. When I bought a historic house I learned to lay floors and build door frames. I’ve learned to make ciders, beer, and cheese. If something interests me I am driven to learn how it is created.

Ignite: What is some advice you would give to aspiring makers and artists?


  • Use your hands and develop hand skills.
  • Draw every single day.
  • Don’t work to develop your own style. It will find you when you are ready.
  • You have a story. Actively work on making this story more interesting.
  • Intensely study other peoples’ work.
  • Develop relationships with other artists.
  • Seek out endorsing organizations and affiliations.
  • Find a niche and own it.

Ignite: Where do you draw your creative inspirations?

Davis: Much of my work is created in an attempt to return to the best times and places of my life. I spent a great deal of my childhood exploring the forest, playing in creeks and exploring the Maine shoreline. My subjects, materials, and techniques all reflect these times.

I also return to the work of those that have gone before me. The Pennsylvania Dutch carvers and early New England decoy carvers inform my work as do a handful of traditional contemporary carvers of the northeast and Quebec.

Ignite: What is your favorite thing (equipment, offering, kit, etc.) in Ignite?

Davis: I am intrigued with 3-d printing and am working with Ignite staff to develop a model wheel for my carvings. I will pull a silicone mold from this model and use the mold to cast pewter.

Geoff Davis will be the maker-in-residence in Ignite through November 27, 2018.