Artist Feature: Jon Michael Route

Jon Michael Route
Jon Michael Route

Wisconsin artist Jon Michael Route began his career in architectural metals and jewelry before beginning his nearly thirty-year career as an independent craft artist. Today he shows his work at some of the most prestigious art shows around the country—but he continues to be an “incurable romantic” for metal. Learn more about why he loves his medium, and how a recent move to an old building is stirring up new artistic energy.

Tell us how you got started as an artist.

I have an M.F.A. in metalsmithing and started out working as a bench jeweler in Kansas City. It was definitely a very formative experience in terms of expressing detail in my work. I moved on to producing my own hollowware and decorative objects, which I still sell at craft shows and by commission.

Three Bird Towers
Three Bird Towers by Jon Michael Route, copper, brass, patina, lacquer, Kaiser Permanente-South Bay, Harbour City, CA. Commissioned by Cheryl Thiele, Creative Art Services.

What do you love best about the medium you work in?

I have had an affinity with metal for over thirty years and have learned how to manipulate and coax it into doing pretty much whatever I want. I am drawn to its strength and yet its malleability. It is capable of amazing detail and sumptuous form. I love the smells, the processes, the tools; I’m an incurable romantic.

Tell us about your studio.

I’ve recently moved and am still in the process of rehabilitating an old building on a small town main street. I am enjoying a new energy and the challenge of making something from nothing, designing new work spaces, and using recycled materials. It’s a work in progress, but I love it!