William O’Kane

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Artist Statement

“Creativity takes courage.” ~ Henri Matisse

Writing about myself is a task that I’ve never quite felt comfortable in doing. But, it seems obligatory for an artist to describe his or herself and/or their art. That is, in part, why I’ve chosen here to first quote Matisse, because I do believe that it takes a degree of courage to create and to call oneself an artist. In doing so, in the daring pursuit of one’s art, one opens oneself up to judgement and criticism. In a certain respect, we lay bare our soul. Creativity does indeed take a measure of courage and whether or not my work allows me to call myself an artist I leave open to interpretation.

I am self-taught, certainly with regard to my woodworking and furniture making. In my childhood I had always thought that I would grow to become a painter. Instead I ended up working in graphic design at the age of 16 and, there too, was largely self-taught. I have always had a natural talent for the visual arts and for working with my hands, so at the age of 22, after having decided that a life in front of a computer screen was not a life with much appeal, I stumbled into woodworking. I simply wished for a place to put my books and I thought that it would be fun to have a go at making my own bookcase. That first piece is currently in the possession of one of my sisters and used daily. Not bad for a piece made of t&g flooring, drywall screws and vacant a drop of glue. Now, some years later (still with all of my digits, touch wood), I’ve achieved a degree of success in my craft and have had opportunities to make some lovely pieces for some wonderful clients.

Part of my philosophy is that I believe too much of life in this day and age is spent fenced in by too much mass production. We are beset by soulless things. This needs to change.

My history, briefly

In my late teens I was employed in Cobourg, Ontario as a graphic designer. I did attend two years of a three year course at Durham College for graphic design but, as it was not a life that I wished to pursue, I did not complete the course.

I spent the next few years travelling back and forth to Ireland, quite unsure of where I wanted to be and with no clear vision of how my life should look. During that time, when I would be back in Canada, I would continue teaching myself woodworking, always with a mind to push myself into new areas that required the development of new skills. It was always exciting learning a new technique. While in Ireland, I held a couple of jobs in kitchen factories where I worked in the production of kitchen cabinet carcasses. Production work was decidedly unfulfilling. Since that time I have been self-employed as a furniture maker pursuing my craft.


Website: www.williamokane.com