"Experienced Ohio Industrial Artists focusing our inspirations on high quality custom furnishings, corporate signage and public sculpture"
Andrew Lundberg had a "regular" job as a concept designer when about 5 years ago he quit, packed all his stuff into an Airstream trailer, and moved to Franklinton. Though he now lives in an apartment, he works out of the trailer and a pole barn on a sliver of land right by railroad tracks.
The best decision Andrew Lundberg ever made was to trade his golden handcuffs for a silver Airstream.
For years, Lundberg had a well-paying job as a design director for a Columbus advertising agency and a comfortable townhouse in German Village. Life looked good from the outside.
Inside Lundberg, though, was the soul of an artist yearning to escape the corporate world. The notion that he wasn’t producing anything tangible haunted him. "I would shut my monitor off at the end of the day and think, 'I didn’t bring anything to life,’” he said. “I didn’t want my life to be on a memory stick. I wanted to bring something out that you could touch and feel.”
The graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh would paint and sculpt in his spare time. He came to Columbus for the design job in 1995 and has lived here since. Five years ago, he committed to making a living from his art.
“I never thought I could make the leap,” said Lundberg, 42, who is single and has no children. “The money was so good there, it was like I had golden handcuffs on. You get stuck. So I had to figure out a plan.”
The plan consisted of selling most of his possessions, buying a used Airstream to live in and “leaning it on an old warehouse” in Franklinton, where he knew some people in the budding artist community.
At 37, he was starting over. “It was a real struggle at first,” Lundberg said. “I took an 80 percent pay cut, basically.”
For a few years, he took jobs for little or no money, just to get his name out there. He painted for his neighbors — a mural of a woman rowing a boat in rough seas for Strongwater Food and Spirits, and another (of a train) on the side of a nearby building.
Not for several years would the hard work and word of mouth eventually boost his business.
“He’s very scrappy, and that’s a high compliment,” said Dylan Menges, a friend and fellow Franklinton-based artist. “And Andrew is a genuine dude. He puts in long hours, and he’s very serious about doing what he’s doing.”
These days, Lundberg has more conventional living quarters (a Franklinton apartment), and the Airstream serves as the office for his company, Lundberg Industrial Arts.
The vehicle is parked next to his main workspace: A blue pole barn on a sliver of a hillside on W. Town Street — so close to railroad tracks that Lundberg feels the trains coming before he hears or sees them.
He works mostly in wood and metal, specializing in what he calls “high-end commercial furniture.”
For example, he recently made two tables for the Downtown design company Bonfire Red.
One is a high-top kitchen table made from hackberry wood, featuring a Lundberg specialty: a live edge. The other is a long conference table made of concrete, wood and metal. The wood is from a cocobola tree, found in Central and South America.
The significance of the latter: Joey Zornes, a co-owner of Bonfire Red, was raised in Panama.
Chris Rinehart, the other Bonfire co-owner, finds Lundberg's talents impressive.
“You get a sense that this guy just has art flowing through his veins," he said. "No matter what type of material he uses, he creates something beautiful. And now we have pieces that no one else on the planet has.”
Most of his creations cost between $3,000 and $15,000, Lundberg said. He often hires craftsmen — carpenters or welders — to help him, paying them on a contract basis.
“I work in a sculptural mode rather than a production mode,” he said. “That means you’re only doing one, and you allow each one to be its own beast." Lundberg grew up in western New York, in Mayville, on Chautauqua Lake.
Lundberg recently finished a 13-foot-long, live-edge table made from a large walnut tree harvested from the client’s property in Lancaster. On on a computer in his Airstream, he shared a rendering of his next project: a bookshelf for a preschool, carved out of wood and made to resemble a tree lying on its side, with books perched on its “branches.”
His goal, he said, is to make each piece of art appear as if every inch has been thoughtfully crafted.
“I don’t want to be the guy who builds every table in a restaurant,” Lundberg said. “I’d rather be the guy who did that really incredible wall made out of 1,000 nails that says something that people will actually remember.”