We had the good fortune of connecting with Doug Pisik and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Doug, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I currently run an art business creating original works – mostly from wood. I started in the corporate world with pretty common positions (computer development, project management, people management, etc.) which I enjoyed, but wasn’t my passion. Creating wood art and sculpture was a hobby that I assumed would be something I’d enjoy as a “retirement job” much later in life. Then a few years ago the company I worked for was moving operations out of Atlanta to New York, so it was time for me to look for a new position. I started by looking for another corporate position, but then had an epiphany…why wait for retirement to do what I genuinely enjoyed.
Of course, starting a new business that is totally different than what I used to do was a large risk. Fortunately, my wife and I realized that I had been inadvertently prepping for this new career change for many years.
1) I had all the tools and materials I needed to start making product in my workshop.
2) I had been saving wisely for many years.
3) I worked with a financial planner to ensure I had a financial plan that assumed I wouldn’t make much money with my new business for a few years.
4) I had acquired a basic understanding of business, retail, marketing, accounting, and other vital skills via my previous work experiences.
5) I knew there was a commercial interest in my art since I was invited to participate in a gallery show the previous year.
6) I started gaining “brand” recognition by being in several museum shows and winning a few awards.
7) I’m self-motivated.
Based on the above I decided the time was right to start a creating and selling art full time. I love what I do and have zero regrets leaving the corporate world behind to start my own business.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I create art primarily from wood. The works include mostly decorative sculpture, 3D wall pieces, and art boxes with complex designs both inside and out. Recently I put together an important virtual exhibition of works on my website based on the impact of the pandemic on humanity and our response that was highlighted on the local NPR station by Lois Reitzes. I have an engineering background which influences my style and unique techniques. Most of my works use numerous species of contrasting wood seamlessly connected to create geometric and complex patterns. I could make my works faster, but the techniques I’ve created and perfected over the years ensure high-quality long-lasting work that takes time to construct. For example, some of my pieces are made up of over a thousand pieces of wood in a dozen different species all fit together without any space between the pieces. My art boxes are centerpiece items which have the patterns repeated on the inside since I use solid pieces for most of my works instead of using veneers. There was a lot of trial and error creating my style and techniques, but no wasted effort. I give a presentation on how to develop unique designs, and in the talk I highlight how mistakes are often blessings in disguise. Instead of getting frustrated when problems occur, I usually find ways to re-work my pieces to not hide but instead highlight the problems as new design features. Most of the time the pieces end up better than the original plan. Professionally, selling art can be a big challenge. It’s important to recognize that getting people to know about your work requires the help of others. I spoke with many other artists and asked them how they got into galleries, how they market, what sells best, etc. Their input was worth more than gold. It’s also important to be genuine with your work. I’ve been told that I could sell more if I made lower priced gift items and if I “mass produced” my work. This would take away from my creative spirit and the quality of my work. Almost everything I make is one of a kind and carefully crafted. I also welcome unique challenges and commissions to create things that I (and nobody else) has ever done before. It’s what makes my works special and why my collectors appreciate having an “original Pisik.”
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When the pandemic ends, there are great things to see, placed to go, and food to eat in the Atlanta and surrounding area. Below are some highlights I’d recommend:
Some of the restaurants to try out:
Have breakfast a Alons in Morningside and pick up a lunch to go.
Have BBQ and listen to blues at Fat Mat’s Rib Shack
Mary Mac’s Tea Room (Real southern food)
La Grotta Ristorante
Nan Thai Fine Dining
Have lunch one day at the Varsity. (For the food AND unique atmosphere)
If in Marietta, Okko Ramen (get the Tonkotsu Ramen)
If in Roswell, VAS Kouzina (authentic Greek!)
Places to visit:
World of Coke
Historic Tour of Fox Theater
High Museum of Art
Marietta Cobb Museum of Art
Little Five Points (shopping, eating, drinking)
Marietta Square (shopping, eating)
Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre
Whole World Improv Theatre CoCenter for Puppetry Arts (museum and performances)
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I couldn’t have started my business without the support and encouragement from my wife (obviously!) and the galleries that show my work (such as the RobertKent Gallery), but I’d like to give a special shoutout to the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art. In 2007 the Marietta Cobb Museum of Art decided to show a couple of my works in an annual juried exhibit of local artists called Metro Montage. Every year since then my work has been selected to be included in the exhibit by different jurors even as the show grew to now include artists coast-to-coast. This year the exhibition was recognized in Fine Art Connoisseur magazine which also published my work. I’m the only artist to be selected for 14 consecutive years at the museum, I’ve been asked to participate in a special exhibition in the spring, and one of my pieces is now part of the permanent collection. The museum is so important to the art community and the Atlanta area. I deeply appreciate what they do and the support I have received from them.
Photographs by Doug Pisik Note