Our legacy as a company is in the hands of the best designers and custom knifemakers the industry has ever seen. In a truly collaborative environment, we work with these men and women to make their designs accessible to a wide audience while still preserving the heart and soul that was forged into each and every one.
In this new series, we’re showcasing these impactful, passionate, and clever designers and hearing about their personal journeys that led to design. This week, we’re featuring Lucas Burnley
Don't forget to check out the new Black Squid featuring D2 Steel
By Lucas Burnley
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Creativity in the age of Social Media is a beast. Platforms like Instagram (a personal favorite of mine) are awesome for staying in touch with other makers, connecting you with new and potential customers, and allowing you to venture outside of the field to find visual inspiration in different art forms. But, when your creative juices aren’t juicing like they’re supposed to, it seems like everyoneeeee else is producing their best work, learning new skills, and launching a fire Kickstarter campaign for the coolest thing you’ve ever seen. You definitely suck as a knifemaker...
A few years ago, I was dealing with some creative roadblocks, and let’s be honest, a little self doubt. My then girlfriend Maddie (now wife, business partner, and mother of our son), showed me an account on Instagram that she was following by @365spoons. It was an awesome project where the maker, Josh Nava, carved a new spoon design every day for a year.
Knowing I wasn’t entirely happy with my process (or my rudimentary drawing skills), Maddie challenged me to put pen to paper and try something similar by posting a new knife sketch on Instagram every day for 365 days.
#BRNLY365 was born.
I agreed to the challenge for a couple reasons...I was tired of designing to deadlines instead of being genuinely inspired. And at the same time, I was feeling overly protective of my work due to another side effect of visibility in the age of social media: well-received designs and their copies. I needed to shake things up. (Sidebar: the issue of copies in our industry can cause a roomful of even the most mild-mannered knifemakers to spontaneously self-destruct. It really deserves its own book.)
The first few days were humbling to say the least. I’ve never considered myself a designer and I don’t come from an art background. Drawing has always been something that I’ve done in 2D because that’s how I see my knives. I felt clumsy and a little embarrassed by my output. But, I had made myself accountable to a lot of people, and I pushed forward.
Within a couple weeks, my drawing skills started to improve, designs began coming to me faster, and I realized that like anything else, creativity is a muscle that needs to be exercised.
That was back in 2015, so I’m working on KST (Knifemaker Standard Time). Some weeks I’m on, and some weeks I’m off, but basically, the challenge has become to sketch 365 knives...or any other cutting implement that tickles my fancy.
I’ve drawn impractical knives. I’ve drawn ugly knives. I’ve drawn knives on placemats and spray painted them on cars. I’ve drawn knives inspired by the movies I was watching or the countryside I was driving through. I’ve also drawn knives that I’m stoked to actually make. It’s been incredibly liberating to loosen the reins and put all my ideas out there for public consumption and feedback--good or bad.
And from the feedback from the #BRNLY365 project, I’ve started to build a collection of ideas that customers would like to see become a reality. The M69 (my 69th drawing) became a popular custom model that was then translated to the CRKT Sketch. It’s been fun to share the process in its entirety from from design→ custom→ production model. I don’t think many people get so see where ideas start and where they end.
Even though I’m ALMOST done with #BRNLY365, I’m still discovering things about myself and my design process through this exercise.
I recently realized that I like drawing in pen much more than pencil. It means I can’t erase and just have to move forward. Out of that process, I’ve started getting into “progression” drawings where I start with one knife and seeing where it evolves (still only counts as 1 knife drawing).
When this is all over and done, I’d like to put a book together of all my sketches, and look back on where I started, and where I ended up. Who knows, maybe I’ll publish it through a Kickstarter campaign...