For many years, I've designed and constructed custom leatherwork for King's Saddlery, Wyoming's famous saddle shop. Recently, I "retired" from King's, and moved my work space to The Brinton Museum (about fifteen miles from Sheridan, near Big Horn, Wyoming). This world class Museum is providing me with a wonderful shop where I design and create leatherwork along with continuing a tradition of teaching and providing information to the public about the processes, cultural influences and history of the leather worker's trade. I also work as a Fine Artist, painting works on leather, wood panels, and canvas.
Throughout my career, I've had the opportunity and good fortune to work with some of the finest leatherworkers in the country. While in High School, I began working with my father, Ed Jackson, who was the head saddle maker at Ernst's Saddlery in Sheridan, Wyoming. This famous old shop (established in 1907) is where I learned the basics of this rewarding and complex trade. In this shop, Bill Gardner, a fine leatherworker and master leather carver, gave me insight into the tools and methods used in designing and building leatherwork.
Several years later, I went off to college to pursue a career in the Fine Arts. I attended the University of Wyoming, taught design classes (Comprehensive Design Program) and held a position as Curator of Exhibits in the University's Art Museum; this was along with tooling belts and doing special order leatherwork for King's Saddlery out of my home shop. While in graduate school, I received a scholarship and traveled to Europe for nine months of study. Upon returning, I finished my Masters degree and continued to develop and hone skills as an artist and leatherworker. I moved to Denver in 1986, where the Kyle Belding Gallery, one of Denver's finest galleries, represented my artwork for many years. During this time I also completed a large award winning mural (15x85 ft) at the Symphony Towers Complex in San Diego, along with several other commissions. In 1989 I moved back to Wyoming and went to work full time for King's Saddlery, and also continued to paint in my home studio. It was a great privilege and honor to work in King's shop for close to 30 years.
My background in the Fine Arts has influenced much of my leatherwork in many ways. It has made the design process of my work paramount. My training in drawing and two dimensional design carry over into the process of laying out patterns on leather. Clear and precise execution of carving, tooling, assembling and finish work is always important to me. Each time I begin a new project, I strive to design and make it better than the last.
I feel much of my leatherwork is recognized by it's free-flowing complex design, delicate flowers and intricate swirls. In an effort to combine my experience of many years in a well respected saddle shop with an extensive background in the Fine Arts, it is my hope to create works that hold the essence of our rich western culture found in the Rocky Mountain region of Wyoming.
Over the past 35 years, I've completed works for some very prominent individuals, including President’s Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, as well as Anthony Hopkins, Ted Turner, David Letterman, Tom Selleck, Wilfred Brimley, Robert Redford, Lyle Lovett, Tommy Lee Jones and many others. I have conducted lectures and demonstrations about the processes of leather carving to hundreds of interested groups and thousands of visitors at the Kings Western Museum. I have taught leather carving and design classes at the Rocky Mountain Leather Trade Show and “Gathering of The Masters” workshops in Sheridan, Wyoming; the Gene Autry Museum in Los Angeles, California; the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia; and most recently in Tokyo, Nara and Kyoto Japan. I was awarded the “Master Leather Artisan of the Year 2017” by the Academy of Western Artists, the “2018 Al Stohlman Award” for excellence as Master Leather Craftsman, the "2019 Wyoming Governor’s Arts Award” for Fine Arts, and most recently given a “National Heritage Fellowship” from the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington D.C.