Richard Vest, the son of a commercial fisherman, grew up in San Francisco. Though he’s not interested in hauling fish from the sea in nets, he captures fish and wildlife in another way.
Even as a child, he loved to draw, and won prizes for his art. He attended San Francisco State University, where he earned degrees in Fine Art and Design/Technology and acquired his secondary teaching credential. He taught art and woodworking in the San Ramon, California, school district before devoting himself to his art full-time.
Using his own photography of creatures as a reference, Vest first captures his subjects as a sketch. Then he selects his wood, and using various grinders and carving tools, crafts his remarkably detailed sculptures. Most are meant to hang on the wall, but he carves free-standing pieces as well.
All of Vest’s pieces are one-of-a-kind. He also produces artworks on commission, but due to differences in woodgrain and slight variations in execution, no two sculptures are ever exactly alike.
I first met Vest at the Tempe Festival of the Arts, where I was dazzled by an enormous bear, like this one, but larger. Vest is a popular participant at a number of shows every year.
For more information about the sculptures shown here, click the link below each photo. You can also visit his website and his Etsy shop.
Clown trigger fish
Left octopus; right octopus
Of course, I had to include the unicorn. But, obviously, Vest was not working from a photograph, because then he’d know real unicorns look more like goats than horses. (Sorry, Richard–I’m a medieval purist. I like my unicorns like the ones in the tapestries in The Cloisters.)
Note: all the photographs in this article are the property of Richard Vest. Used with permission. All photographs are copyrighted, and no part of any photo/carving may be reproduced by any means including photographically, mechanically, or digitally and is subject to all U.S. copyright laws.