Many women in trades are the first in their family to pick up tools - not Laura Burkhart. Here’s how her adventures in various media began with her own crafty mom.
What made you start doing the amazing things that you do?
I've always been an artist and a maker. I learned to be comfortable with tools from a young age from my mother. My career in the arts has allowed me to really explore various media and take on different trades over the years.
As a display artist, I did everything from wiring a light fixture to building a driftwood fort to massive art installations. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I am surrounded by endless inspiration that compels me to create work that celebrates all this natural beauty. Woodwork, in particular, has been one of my favorite ways to celebrate the Northwest. It allows me to combine my signature geometric designs with the wild, organic fluidity of the wood grain in such an exciting way.
Who’s a role model who helped you in your journey to where you are?
My mother. From a young age, she always encouraged my artistic passions and showed me how to be a maker. She made everything in my room, including the wall mounted desk and easel where I spent hours.
What does a day in your trade look like?
I work in a variety of mediums so my day-to-day varies quite a bit. One day, I may be atop a ladder painting in windows in the city and the next I'll be in my wood shop in the woods. Wherever I am, I am always on my feet, always moving and always creating art.
What are you doing when you’re not working hard?
Moving in nature is how I reset and get inspired. I love hiking in the mountains, biking along the lake and running in the woods with friends. And when I get a real break, my husband and I love to spend time with our 100lb Ridgeback pup and roadtrip to different national parks around the country, camping under the stars.
What do you want people to know about being a woman in your field?
Working with your hands and building things from scratch is incredibly rewarding. Being a woman and thus a minority in the field just makes it all the sweeter. There is always going to be someone that thinks they can do it better than you can or that is threatened by your independence in the workshop, but our voices as makers are so important. The more we can inspire young women to pick up tools, learn new trades and build for themselves, the more we can empower them.
How do you encourage other women to start doing what you do?
I love to support other female makers, to bring people into my process and create community wherever I can. I am not shy about the hard work that goes into what I do, but I am also open about the mistakes I make along the way. Honesty and vulnerability is something I think a lot of women bring to this industry that is incredibly unique and can be so inspiring. I'm all about lowering the barrier of entry and showing that anyone can be a maker as long as you're willing to be a beginner and not take yourself too seriously in the process.
If you could give your 20-year-old-self advice, what would it be?
Accept exactly who you are and then be the absolute best version of yourself that you can be.
What are the top five things that are always in your pockets?
A pencil, a measuring tape, paint pens and protective eyewear.