Inside the Design Mind of Artist Brad Joffrion

by Karen LeBlanc

Meet Brad Joffrion, an artist who hails from my home state of Louisiana, known for its culture and creativity. Find out how this former Mechanical Engineer followed his passion for woodworking and turned a hobby into a bonafide brand known as Slab-Worx.

Brad Joffrion is that rare right-brained and left-brained person who achieved success for more than two decades as a Mechanical Engineer before trading in spreadsheets for woodworking tools.  After 23 years working with numbers and calculations, Brad took a leap of faith to follow his passion for creating functional art.  Brad works wood and epoxy to create eye-catching, ethereal art objects for everyday life including tables, charcuterie boards, countertops and wall art.  

To understand the evolution of an artist, I like to explore the backstory—where the seeds of creativity first sprouted. Brad Joffrion drew inspiration from his childhood growing up in  Donaldsonville, Louisiana, along the bayou and neighboring sugar cane fields.  “In high school, I was the go-to person to draw banners for different events at school. At that time, swamp scenes were sort of my specialty. I grew up fishing in the Atchafalaya Basin and was fascinated with the scenery,” says Brad, whose extended family claims several artists. 

His great Aunt Jeanne Leblanc was a painter and his Aunt Kathleen Joffrion designed the 1977 Jazz Fest poster and still teaches and paints with many of her works on display at  www.kathleenjoffrionart.com. “My Aunt Kathleen currently does amazing realistic paintings of Louisiana and it’s wildlife,” says Brad, whose artistic path took a detour in college. At Louisiana State University, Brad earned a degree in Mechanical Engineering and subsequently worked in that profession for more than two decades before returning to his artistic roots.

Artists are often faced with an existential struggle between choosing a practical career that provides financial stability versus following one’s muse. It takes courage and requires vulnerability to put a creative work out in the world in hopes one’s art will resonate. “My daily routine was to sit at a computer and fill out Excel spreadsheets and Word docs. Although the money was great, I felt confined and no creative outlet existed. I lost touch with my creative side. The analytical left brain of mine became more dominant. About a year and a half ago, my right brain creative side woke up. I had access to a fully equipped woodshop and I started piddling with band saw boxes which lead to creating cutting and charcuterie boards,” Brad explains.

Bard’s signature style infuses colorful epoxy into his woodworks— an aesthetic he developed by experimenting with the materials. “I started experimenting with epoxy which appealed to my left brain due to the precise nature of epoxy. There are a lot of variables that can affect the curing of epoxy such as environmental conditions, the accuracy of the two-part mixture, mixing speed, etc. There were many occasions where I stayed at the woodshop for 12 hours straight and alone. No music, just me and my creation speaking telepathically to each other.”

The Creative Process:

I asked to peek inside Brad’s design mind to learn about his creative process. “Regarding my design-mind, I make every effort to create something unique for my client— something that can’t be purchased anywhere else. My desire is for each piece is to invoke happy, blissful feelings when it is viewed by someone,” Brad explains. He relies on his intuition in the creative process, letting the material guide him and contemplating what it is trying to tell him.

 

“With every piece, I do my best to keep the wood in its natural shape as much as possible. Even though I may cover the piece with epoxy resin, you will still be able to see the character of the grain. When I do coat it in epoxy resin, I will normally use a subtle amount of pigment with some iridescence to enhance the viewing of the piece while still letting the character of the wood show through. I never will totally hide the grain. After all, along with its shape, the grain is what gives it character.”

“My wish is to design objects for people with them in mind. For example, the recent black walnut with black epoxy dining table I designed and created.  The base of the table tells a story of the couple who purchased it. The husband is a retired airline pilot and the wife was a boat captain for a large pleasure boat. Hence, the base resembles the vertical tail wing of a large passenger jet and there is a compass made of stainless steel accenting the center of the base.” 

Brad sources his materials globally to create creating serving boards, wall art, tables, and counter-tops. “My preference is to use live-edge wood slabs where possible. I even do my best to consume the whole piece even the off-cuts,” Brad says.

He prefers to work with black walnut, pecan, spalted wood of any type like maple or hackberry, and olive wood.

“I feel it’s important to share my creative energy with others and pass forward the energy which may inspire them to create something from their soul. There is nothing like bringing joy to people who purchase and view my work. Those reactions bring nothing but bliss to my heart and soul.”

To see more of Brad’s functional art pieces available for sale or custom order, check out his facebook page for Slab-Worx.  “I would like Slab-Worx to become go-to place for unique, functional, artistic designs from wood, epoxy, and metal. My vision is to be a stand-out with theme-based creations for my customer akin to what Orange County Choppers does for motorcycle enthusiasts.”

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