When David. C. Roy got bored waiting for results from the mainframes in his late 1970s programming job, he started sketching whimsical mechanical wooden sculptures and toys. Though he had few woodworking skills, he soon began creating more and more complex sculptures, and within months had quit his job to launch his own business. Priceonomics has the whole story of this scientists-turned-art-trepreneur:
Though he constantly gets requests for custom pieces, he doesn’t build them — mainly because it’s not practical. Every time he makes a new design, he spends six months finding weaknesses, making sure everything functions properly, and ensuring he can deliver a quality good. “I make what I make,” he says, “and people can choose to buy from that.”
In total, he estimates he’s sold around 3,000 sculptures in an array of 300 designs.
And beyond the obvious coolness of the art pieces he’s creating, I was really struck by another aspect of his creative career; an intentional decision to keep his business small and manageable, so he can stay close to the part he loves … making stuff:
As he relates tales of how other artist friends hired large teams and launched big businesses, David seems content with where he is; while they toil through paper work, sales, and fiscal decisions, he remains intimately involved with the creation of new art. And when the 63-year-old’s acquaintances talk about retirement, he’s incredulous: “Why would I want to do that? I’d just do that same thing every day that I do now.”
Do you know a story of a business owner or artist who has chosen this sort of path? If so, share it with us in the comments!