My father was a Navy Sea Bee and we moved from deployment to deployment - Pacific Grove, California, Japan, back to Pacific Grove, back to Japan, then to Adak, Alaska, Gretna, Louisiana, Monterey, California and finally Oxnard, California in 1961. After graduating from Oxnard High, I attended Ventura College for a two years until Uncle Sam sent me to Viet Nam 1969 to 1970. Fortunate to return, I went back to Ventura College for a year before transferring to Fresno State College where I received a B.A. in Psychology.

My goal was to be involved in youth ministry, working with an organization I had enjoyed as a young man and worked with part time before graduating from Fresno State. I married during my last year at Fresno and we moved to Ventura in 1973 after my graduation. There I began working as a high school club director for Campus Life and also studied for and received a ministerial license in order to have access to and help kids who had been incarcerated in Juvenile Hall or jail. Every year Campus Life would put on huge Halloween events which were called Scream in the Dark. I loved the extensive design and prop building process. The most elaborate prop I built was in 1975 - a coffin that was used to exit Scream. The kids would come into the upstairs “parlor”, complete with mourners and low lighting, and the only way to exit was to lie down in the coffin, have the lid closed and then with a slight tilt slide out the “toe” which opened onto a slide down to the first floor exit. Later, I spent a short time living in Grants Pass, Oregon, working with junior high and high school kids until it became necessary to move back to Ventura in 1979. The economy was bad, but I was able to get a job building patio covers and home remodeling. I moved into supervising construction and during a brief lay-off period, I thought that I could create some income by building beautiful cigar humidors to supplement my free-lance building jobs. It was then that I began to explore the art of box building and became involved in art associations and venues. Design concepts and new avenues of creativity suddenly opened to me. Now, I’m overwhelmed with ideas and have drawers stuffed with sketches. I sometimes wake-up in the middle of the night designing a piece.

Looking back, it seems creative building was always in my blood. I remember scavenging for wood to build a fort at the age of five while we were stationed in Japan and nearly drowned fishing wood out of a reservoir until our house boy saw me through the upstairs window of our apartment and ran to fish me out with my wood. At the age of eight on Adak, Alaska, an island without trees, I scavenged trash wood from large metal dumpsters to build my two-story fort with a secret entrance. I have great memories of foraging through the swamps near our home in Gretna, Louisiana and in high school, I loved customizing model cars for competitions. While I was in Viet Nam I began carving native wood and black thorn with my pocket knife. I loved designing and building for the annual Scream in the Dark. I built a tree house and Koi pond for my son and daughter. The idea of “artist” never occurred to me until much later. I just loved creating things.

Currently, I’m employed as a personal property manager for a large estate in Camarillo, California, which is close and enables me to spend more time creating that next competition piece. My wife often refers to herself as the Wood Widow. I still scavenge - bits and pieces of anything I might like to incorporate into a piece. Fortunately, my wife also shares my vision and is always on the look-out for any bit of something she thinks I might be able to use. We often discuss the function, design and engineering on a particular piece. My son is also an artist, although his medium is painting/graphic art, and my sister is an assemblage artist and gallery director in Eugene, Oregon. My home is one crazy collection of the stuff of art.

One of my greatest frustrations is not having adequate workshop space. I’ve made-do with my garage, spending much of my time moving equipment around as needed for the task at hand. I’m like a rabbit in my warren with bunny trails everywhere through stacks of wood. But I’ve been greatly blessed. I’ve had some amazing achievements in competitions and been honored with interviews and magazine articles. I never imagined this could be so when I first began this journey.

I’m inspired by everything from architecture to jewelry, but mostly by nature itself. I have an eclectic style and never know where the next piece will come from. My problem isn’t finding inspiration. My problem is having too much - it’s a kind of madness.

David Blackburn