Artist Feature: Ken Roby

Ken Roby
Forged iron staircase by Ken Roby. Commissioned for a private residence, Bath, OH.

The child of a sculptor and a painter, it was only natural that Ken Roby take his Farrier Science degree and turn it into art. The artist-blacksmith shared with us his views on pushing the envelope and surrounding himself with talented people.

How did you get started as an artist?

I’m an artist? I just enjoy making things and figuring things out and trying to make them look good. It is not up to me to decide if I’m an artist; that’s up to other people. I guess I am an artist.

What advice would you give other artists about commission projects?

Don’t worry too much about whether or not you can do a project or how you will do it. You’ll figure that part out when the time comes, especially if the heat is on. Go out on a limb and push your envelope. 

Ken Roby
Artist-Blacksmith Ken Roby in his studio. Photo by Jesse Kramer.

What’s the one thing you would want design professionals to know about working with artists?

I am frequently exasperated by “designers” who have a concept about something they want for a project, but cannot or will not provide any kind of drawing, just generalized or vague descriptions and arm waving. It doesn’t have to be a work of art, but designers need to be able to communicate their ideas to others in a way that is understandable and workable. Good designers have this down pat.

What strategy or practice helps you run your art business efficiently?

I can’t do it all myself. I try to surround myself with the most talented and congenial people I can afford and leave most of the business stuff to my Wharton School of Business wife, to my accountants, and the bookkeeper. Never, never stop forging ahead and seeking new work like it was your first day on the job.