COLUMBUS — Leaving corporate America was a no-brainer for 28-year-old Joslyn Barcel-Tate.
She made the decision about a year ago. Although she loved where she worked, life just wasn't what Barcel-Tate pictured for herself.
“Choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life,” Barcel-Tate said, quoting a familiar adage.
She knew in her heart she should be an artist, not sitting at a desk from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. After all, she was named after the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha.
“It was always a childhood dream that I had let go of to work in insurance, sales and franchise lending,” she said, listing the jobs she took through the years. “They were great jobs, I really enjoyed them, but the more I went in every day and sat at that desk, the more unhappy I became.”
Just like any other kid, she colored in coloring books and played with Play-Doh, but it wasn’t until she started messing with wet dirt when her parents really began to notice her abilities.
“I started building elaborate things out of mud in the front yard,” she said, pointing out the window of the childhood home she now lives in with her husband Zach Tate.
Her curiosity for how things are made and how she could construct them began to fuel her artistic side.
When she was 7, her dad hired a woodcarver from California to create a statue to go outside her family’s business, Barcel Mill and Lumber Co. in Bellwood.
“I would follow him around and ask him questions and climb the scaffolding with him,” Barcel-Tate said. “He just took me under his wing and answered all my little-kid questions.”
At that age, that was all she needed, someone to show interest in her interests. She knew she wanted to be an artist.
“It was kind of my aha moment,” she said.
As she grew older, her parents would come home to a different mural on the wall every so often. This scenario may end in a scolding for some children, but not for Barcel-Tate.
“I don’t know how, but I was never in trouble. They would just tell me how great it was and compliment me,” she said. “My parents were very supportive.”
Her reward for good behavior was art supplies.
Barcel-Tate said her parents had an exceptional appreciation for the arts, and often visited the Joslyn Art Museum after their marriage.
Barcel-Tate was married at age 22 and working a corporate job, but still longing to be the “starving” artist people poke fun at.
“Everyone told me I had such great potential, but you start believing the lies around you that artists don’t make any money,” she said. “It’s something I knew I enjoyed doing but I knew I couldn’t support myself.”
She took art classes off and on at Central Community College-Columbus before realizing she was being taught things she already knew.
Her medium of choice is working with bronze sculptures, from small squirrels to large trees.
“I don’t think of myself as an artist, I feel like I’m more of a builder,” she said.
One of her current projects involves creating a life-size wall sculpture of a tree using joint compound that will be accompanied by a bronze tree she's creating.
A variety of her work in varying stages is scattered across the table inside her basement studio.
Creating each statue is a complex process that starts with a clay figure used to make a mold, which is filled with wax that's then replaced with bronze.
“There is actually a ton of math that goes into it, too,” Barcel-Tate said.
It's a lengthy process, but Barcel-Tate said it's worth it because bronze pieces can last for hundreds of years.
“The point is to make them to order,” she said of her business, Barcel Bronze. “I mean it is a more-expensive thing to produce just because a lot of work goes into them, so I don’t just make them to sit around.”
"Kevin," a roughly 10-by-12-inch bronze zebra she created, is on his way to Boston. The piece was selected to be displayed at a Boston Children’s Museum exhibit called “All Things Animals," which starts Friday and runs until mid-November.
Barcel-Tate also recently got into cutting, welding and coloring metal signs, a side job she started as a favor for a friend. After word spread, orders started pouring in. In the last month she’s mailed signs to places as far as California, Texas and Abu Dhabi.
“It’s just grown into its own little business,” said Barcel-Tate, who recently started her own online Etsy store that features the metal signs.
It’s been a year since Barcel-Tate quit her corporate career to become an artist, and she hasn't regretted a moment. Every morning she gets to wake up and do exactly what she always knew she was supposed to do.
“I’m living my dream,” she said.
More of Barcel-Tate's work can be found on her Facebook page, Barcel Bronze.