By Jason Pancoast’s reckoning, his artwork is not his identity. And neither is Shadowfox Design, his two-year-old business and recently launched downtown gallery space.
“The reason I created a business,” says Pancoast, “is because I don’t want to be known as ‘Jason Pancoast, The Artist!’ Having a business is a way to sort of separate my work from who I am. It’s about a different brand, a different identity.”
Buried near the surface of Pancoast’s values are strong sentiments about elitist art and how much art should cost the consumer. Growing up penniless in Florida, Pancoast has long insisted that art should be affordable.
“I’ve sold my artwork before,” says Pancoast. “But I’ve always been adverse to selling, like, $1,000 pieces. Or too focused on the high-end art market. I don’t go out and spend even $500 on a piece of art.”
He elaborates on questions he often asks himself: “How can I make something that’s unique and meaningful, where the work behind the art is meaningful, is done by hand, and is something that just about anyone can walk in and buy?”
And so. . . enter Shadowfox Design.
In the midst of pursuing an architecture degree at UO, Pancoast stumbled into seemingly limitless possibilities for using a laser cutter as a tool for creating art. The discovery inspired him to put his studies on hold and launch a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the purchase of his own laser device.
He started using the unit to cut jewelry—earrings and pendants mostly—typically incorporating complex, mandala-like designs carved in wood. He also started manufacturing original, evocative, painted silhouette landscapes crafted into multi-layered shadowbox scenes displayed inside handcrafted wood frames.
The art proved to be popular at the Eugene Saturday Market and the annual Holiday Market. Over two year’s time, the laser-cut pieces stimulated expanding orders for custom manufactured art.
“Celebrating the outdoors is a big part of my art,” says Pancoast. “People tend to surround themselves with things they aspire to be a part of or strongly value. I try to capture a story or feeling that is the magic inspired by nature.”
Pancoast’s art pieces usually start as simple vignette sketches, sometimes even just words or a single sketchbook drawing. The process, often lasting several months, is a carry-over from his architectural training. Initial sketches lead to more complex drawings that eventually get transferred into digital software. “That’s when the images really come to life,” he says. “I’m not just drawing the lines to be laser cut. I’m filling out whole drawings.
“I’m always drawing in two dimensions, but the whole time I’m thinking in three dimensions. Like how each item will fit in the box. And the angles. And how to create false perspective, like a path moving into the horizon.”
Near the back of the Shadowfox gallery rests a piano, leather seating, and a huge, white dry erase board. The board is both a tool and symbol for Pancoast’s near-constant reach for fresh artistic ideas and collaboration. Customers, friends, colleagues—they’re all encouraged to visit the gallery not so much to shop, but to inflate the environment with ideas and artistic expression: songs, video, poems, sketches, photos, dance. In the Pancoast creative paradigm, anything and anybody can be a source for collaborative artistic inspiration.
This year, for example, he is launching a series of projects based around collaboration and featuring a changing monthly theme. Session participants will be encouraged to share artistic bits and pieces tied to that monthly theme. The goal is to generate a piece of art that Shadowfox can reproduce, manufacture, and sell. Contributors will share sales revenues.
“It’s all about making this a creative space, not just a retail space,” says Pancoast.
And to that end, he paints a grand scheme for Shadowfox in the future. It’s a vision of a gallery filled with intriguing displays: modular floor areas like those at Ikea, boasting utilitarian art, sculptures, handcrafted furniture; build outs to the current floor design; more space for creative collaboration, training classes, performance art; new tools: a 3D printer, a CNC router; maybe even a beer and wine cafe for attracting collaborating artist-types.
“Having people in the space always generates revenue one way or another,” says Pancoast. “Whether visitors are talking about art or contributing something creatively, it all comes together somehow.”
76 W Broadway | 541/953-9408 | shadowfoxdesign.com