Stoop Story 06: Russ Fry
The Architect’s Wife has always been focused internally on showcasing our showroom space and the artists, creators, or makers within it. But given the current circumstances, we’re learning to shift our focus and connect with people in new ways. More importantly, we want to shine a light on craftspeople and the creativity they contribute to our community. In this series dubbed “Stoop Stories”, The Architect’s Wife visits friends and makers to share how they’re staying in/spired.
Let us introduce you to Russ Fry –– a furniture designer and fabricator based in Livingston, Montana. Fry operates Fry Steel and Wood Works out of his shop where he builds an furnishings and installations for all kinds of different projects. We took the afternoon exploring his space –– part industrial workshop, part gallery, and part community watering hole (outfitted with throwing knives, dirt bikes, a shuffleboard and an abundance of surrounding aesthetic details). Fry is always up for taking on commissioned projects and will create pieces conceptualized from his imagination. Fry himself and his work both generate an sense of playful innovation.
Tell us what you do. How did you fall into your craft?
I just fell into it. Growing up in Oklahoma, we just didn’t talk about creativity or the arts much. It was all about sports at that time. By the time college rolled around, graphic design just sounded cool. I gave it a try and kept thinking to myself “well, that was lucky”. From there I tried painting and again thought “that was lucky”. I still sometimes feel lucky when something turns out cool. But, unlike graphic design, you can’t CMD + Z when it comes to building furniture to undo a mistake. I went through a lot of trial and error –– that’s how I learned.
What was your first ever job?
I cleaned a clothing store after school. From 3-5PM I swept, mopped, and cleaned trashed tuxedos that were partied in – cigarette butts in the pockets and all.
What have you been up to during quarantine?
I’ve been painting and playing the guitar just to keep learning and have some fun. I recently learned You’ve Got a Friend in Me.
What’s something you’ve been working on your excited about?
This project right here I have going for Abby –– it’s halved shell of a vintage WWII torpedo [converted into a hanging chandelier].
Some advice to aspiring creators or small business owners:
Perseverance. I didn’t start out with a bunch of work and I wasn’t great by any means. I had a great idea every now and then, but just sticking with it and working hard. And also honest and sincerity with everyone you work with.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Abby was one of the first people to buy my furniture. It took someone like her to introduce me to the game and all its possibilities –– building my confidence in what I could make.
The Architect’s Wife is focused on sharing togetherness, inspired spaces, and warmth in any capacity we can generate it. Here we shine a light on craftspeople and the creativity they contribute to our community.