by Joey Crandall, email@example.com
GARDNERVILLE, Nev. — It was just doodles on paper, during class.
But to Douglas High School senior Lukas Olsen, age 17, they just looked … well, right.
“About two years ago, I sanded down my skateboard and took what I’d been doing on paper to the longboard,” he said. “I was pretty happy with how it turned out.”
From there he began drawing on white marble tiles, then natural stone. Using acrylic and oil-based paint pens, he crafted his pieces freehand.
“My parents said it was good, but they have to say that,” Olsen said with a laugh.
The only art training he had at any level was a basic screen printing class he took at the high school with the hopes of translating his designs onto T-shirts.
“That didn’t really work out,” he said. “It turned out that my designs didn’t lend themselves to screen printing. With the amount of detail in what I’m doing, you’d need a really high quality printer for it to show up. Other than that, I never really wanted to take an instructional art class.”
Olsen’s father, David, posted one of the tiled marble drawings to Facebook.
“It sold,” Olsen said. “I couldn’t really believe it, but that’s when I started to think, ‘Hey, maybe this is OK.’”
In August, Olsen was accepted to the East Fork Gallery in Gardnerville as the youngest artist that had even been featured there.
That’s right around the time where his three-month job at a local sandwich shop started to not look as appealing.
“Once I started selling some more pieces, I started to think maybe I won’t make as much right away, but I would rather do something I loved and make a little bit of money than make more money doing something I wasn’t as interested in,” Olsen said.
“It’s enough for gas money and hanging out with friends for right now,” Olsen said.
A big shift in his approach came when his brother-in-law, who works in a fabrication shop, brought home some strips of metal.
“I was kind of playing with the metal – I liked the sound when I bended it a little,” Olsen said. “Then I had the thought that maybe I could draw on it.
“I really just kind of went for it and what you see now is what happened.”
Olsen buys metal from his brother-in-law and then prepares it for use.
“The pieces can be kind of greasy,” he said, “I have to clean them off, and then I clear coat them so that the oil paint from the pen will stay on them.”
As a final touch, Olsen finds bracket frames that allow him to bend some pieces outward, giving them a curved, three-dimensional appearance upon hanging.
“It’s just kind of that final effect that makes it mine,” he said.
As Olsen has added to his collection of work, his social media footprint has quickly grown.
“There’s an art Facebook page that my dad runs,” Olsen said. “I’ve never had a facebook, so he is showing me how it works.
“It’s pretty crazy. I never thought people could get excited about something I made. But people in this area are very supportive. It’s a big art community and they’ve really helped me along.”
In October, Olsen entered his work in the Carson Valley Art Association Art Show at the CVIC Hall in Minden.
“I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go because my art is so different,” he said. “There are so many good realist artists, and what I do doesn’t really fall into that category.”
He won a third-place ribbon in the mixed media category.
“I was pretty stoked about that,” he said. “My grandparents had come down from Colorado. They wanted to see my art at the show. When I took them down there, it was announced I’d also won the People’s Choice Award. I couldn’t believe it.”
Olsen said when he gets a blank piece of metal, he starts by roughing it into basic sections.
“I’ll usually just start with a few lines, turn on some music and draw whatever it feels like should come next,” he said – adding that a piece can take anywhere from a weekend to several weeks.
“I work on different sections at a time,” he said. “I’ll go back and add lines. I’ve drawn all weekend long on some pieces, when I feel inspired to work on it for a long period of time. When it’s done, it’s done.”
Olsen said he’s on the fence about whether he wants to make art a longterm career choice or a weekend hobby.
“I would love it if I could make it a career, but I also realize there are a lot of people who want to do that, but can’t,” he said. “I’ll keep working on it as I go to college, but I’m thinking of getting a degree in aviation and becoming a pilot. Or something in graphic design would be great too.”
Olsen’s art page can be found at http://www.facebook.com/lukasolsensart and his work can be seen at the East Fork Gallery, 1503 Highway 395, Suite K (The Record-Courier building) in Gardnerville.