Now at the age of 43 I am following a new path with a passion that has turned into a life long dream!
I was nine years old when I carved my first decoy. I would be lying if I said it wasn't the first thing I thought of when I woke up and the last thing I thought about when going to bed. Never in my life did I think that my dream to be a full time decoy carver and waterfowler would ever come true… but the dream has come true and I am grateful every day that I get to wake up and pursue my passion. Waterfowl has become my life and thinking back now on how I got started in this lifestyle has me wondering what is next. Looking back, I can remember the countless days and hours I spent being fascinated with ducks and geese. I spent all my free time hunting and fishing with my father. It was my father who taught me how to carve and I still remember standing side-by-side, mimicking what he was teaching me. I still recall the smell of the freshly shaved wood as my father carefully craft and detailed each decoy. I still to this day, continue to learn new things from him.
Growing up I have always been into art and learning how to draw and paint. As I grew older I got heavily involved in flat work. Drawing and painting the subject I was most passionate about eventually led me into entering the New Jersey Junior Duck Stamp Program and later, the Federal Duck Stamp Program. It was at that time my decoy passion had slowed but never really disappeared. Toward the end of high school, I pursued art as a career and accepted a scholarship to The University of The Arts in Philadelphia. During my four years there, I studied illustration and design, earning my BA in Fine Arts.
After graduating and for the next several years, I worked for several different companies designing everything from T-shirts to toys, tapestries and even home decor products. Life was great and I was pursuing my career as an artist! Then suddenly the economy crashed and the design field went with
it. I soon found myself bouncing from job to job trying to make ends meet. This hard period in my life is when I turned back to decoys. I started to use my experience in the design field and put it into use on something I always loved: decoys!
I started a small foam decoy line called “Landing Zone Decoys”, or as everyone else called them “LZ Decoys”. Using the expert help of my father, I created custom molds from my hand-carved decoys and started hand molding them one by one. At first LZ Decoys was only offered for sale online and at shows. The demand for them rapidly grew to a level that I could no longer handle alone. I had to come up with a new method in molding the decoys. This is where my brother Ed stepped in. He helped design and build a rotocasting machine that would allow me to mold the decoys hand-free as I worked on other decoys. During this time, I began to get a high demand for hands carved decoys. This demand shortly outgrew the demand for my molded decoy line to the point I had to make a decision: drop the molded decoys or drop the carvings. Being a purist and artist at heart, I made that decision very easily, to pursue the carvings. LZ decoys was a great starter for my career and looking back it was part of the fuel that kept my dream alive.
The demand for my carving continued to grow as I had given up LZ Decoys. I still had to find a way for make ends meet. I soon found myself work in a warehouse and taking in freelance graphic design jobs, which I still do to this day. Year after year, the demand for my carved decoys was so overwhelming I found myself in the shop before I went to work and sometimes after. This went on for a few years until suddenly the past caught up with me again - I was going to lose my warehouse job! You know, the one that paid me consistently? “What now,” I thought to myself. I had been out of the design industry for so long I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I definitely knew at this time I did not want to end up in a dead end job starting from scratch… again.
At this point my decoy demand was so high and my orders were going through the roof. I decided it's now or never. So talking with my wife and a few fellow carvers, I got the courage to go full time and make decoys for a living. I am now living my dream and at the age of 43, I have been pondering: “What is the next chapter in my life? What can I give back to the community that has given me so much?” This is where "The FULIX Project" was born, a career project that will be shared with everyone that has the same passion as I – Waterfowl! It is through this project that I will be pursuing a body of work that will incorporate every worldwide species of waterfowl. Here, I will invite you into my shop to share my every day experience, research and carvings of the worlds waterfowl.