Upcycled is honored to host the upcycling artistry of Sean Kochel, this coming First Friday, November 7th. In preview, we caught up with Sean and asked a few questions.
Who are you and what do you do? My name is Sean Kochel, and I build guitars and other stringed instruments, plus a lot of other art.
My guitars are made from reclaimed materials from Montana. The necks are made from various native woods. The body of the guitars are made from reclaimed old growth wood from old barns and other old buildings from Montana. The pickguards are made from old metal that was found on farmsteads. The volume and tone nobs are made from used shotgun shells. The nut of the guitars are made from Rocky Mountain Elk. The fret boards are sometimes made from used pallets. Each fret of the fretboard is marked with a used bullet casing.
All of my other art uses some kind of found object. The bottle openers I make and sell are made from the scraps of wood left over from building the guitars.
How did you get started? I got started about 10 years ago after receiving an email from my little brother. There was a pop up add for a website that said "how to build a guitar in a day". I thought to myself, wow that's weird, I was just going to head to the shop to try to build a guitar. I thought to myself that this looked a lot simpler than what I had in mind for that day, so I moved forward in building that guitar from the website. It has just progressed from there.
What's the best part of owning a small business? The best part of owning my own business, is the fact that I am my own boss. The creative freedom that comes with it.
What's your biggest challenge? My biggest challenge is getting pulled in multiple directions at the same time. Consistently have to mentally shift gears to meet all of the demands and responsibility that come with owning your own business.
How are you growing your business? I am always trying to grow my business by listing to my customers. Trying to hone my craft and trying to reach out to potential customers who might not know who or what I am about. Staying creative and keeping things fresh.
Where do you see yourself in five years? I don't have a clear vision of my future. Since I have been alive I have found that I need to adapt to change, even when I don't want to. Just like starting the guitar business, It was nothing I planned on doing, it just happened. So maybe in five years I see myself just being a better person than I was five years prior.
Any advice for up and coming Artisans? My best advice to up coming artisans is just be you and do your thing. Put yourself out there and people will appreciate you for who you are. Those who don't appreciate you do not matter anyhow. Be fearless!!! It's hard at first, but the more you do it, the easier gets.