This month's Artist Spotlight focuses on Would Could, the delightfully detailed designs from artist Cergio Brown. His playful laser cut creations are another unique addition to our list of local artists we feature.
How did you get started creating your pieces?
Would Could began when I was in school for engineering. As a student, I had access to a variety of machines and tools, including a laser cutter. After learning how to use the laser cutter and what it was capable of, I couldn’t wait to tell my wife about it…and it wasn’t long until she had a laser-cutter honey-do list for me to complete, starting with a map of the world to hang above our couch. Many, many hours later, we had a three panel laser engraved map centering our living room. This experience opened the creative flood gates, so to speak, and I began making customized products for family and friends. In this early stage, my products were almost exclusively made from wood - photos engraved on cherry, keychains cut from walnut, and jewelry made from purple heart. Thus our name, Would Could, was born as a play on words.
What’s the favorite part of your work/what you make?
Ultimately my favorite part of what I do is the process. I love seeing an idea that I’ve generated become a physical reality - from something in my head to something I can hold in my hand. Each step of the work brings you that much closer to the final goal.
How do you express your creativity through your work?
Every step in the process taps into a different aspect of my creativity.
My wife would tell you that I am an ‘idea’ person. I love to think up products, business concepts, solutions to problems, you name it.
When I was younger, I loved to draw. I loved the idea of becoming an artist, but didn’t know any artists and didn’t think it was a viable career option. Now the design aspect of product creation really brings me back to that creative joy from when I was a kid.
The laser processing brings out the engineer in me. Determining the best material for a project, or what settings the laser needs to be in to produce the best cut or etch without burning or over-processing, watching a successful run - I love the science behind it.
What brings you joy?My family, particularly my children, brings me joy. My wife and I tried for years to have kids, and ultimately gave up thinking we wouldn’t be able to. Then we got pregnant with our son, and not long after he was born got pregnant with our daughter! Our house is chaotic with 2 under 2, but they are absolutely amazing and bring me joy every day.
What challenge(s) have you overcome?So many. I grew up on the West side of Chicago, in low socio-economic conditions. I’ve overcome the disparities that come from growing up in those conditions (disparities in education and opportunity, a neighborhood known for crime and corrupt policing, unequal access to healthcare, and more). I’ve overcome educators and leaders who told me I would never be able to achieve my goals - specifically an engineering degree (I obtained my degrees in Materials Science and Engineering with honors). I was the first, and only, of my mother’s 5 children to graduate from University. Not many people in my neighborhood were able to go on to post-secondary education or become successful. In some ways, my life has been a series of lessons on how to overcome adversity.
Once I decided to start my own business there were a host of new and different challenges. What products and designs should I create? What was my brand really about? Can I afford to purchase my own laser cutter? What about filing taxes? Healthcare?
Luckily I’ve been surrounded by a community that has really helped me refine as I’ve built my business. Different partners (like MADE) have supported me from the start and have really helped my business grow.
Anything exciting in the works/coming up for you?
I’m really excited to open up our webstore and am hoping that it gets up and running before the end of this year (it’s been a long process!). I’m also excited for some new designs and products that we are testing. I’m working on a few fine art pieces that I really enjoy. Additionally, I’m looking forward to building more partnerships with community businesses and organizations. For example, I’m hoping to work with more schools and nonprofits this upcoming year.
What do you wish for the world?
So much. I’ll sum it up by saying: More Love, Less Hate. More support and generosity, less restriction. More coming together, less divisiveness.