#yycAtwork: Local artist turns childhood fascination into steady career

Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are the men who influenced Jeff De Boer, 51, to make art out metal — the material his dad used to make signs out of.

“I kind of grew up around this stuff,” says De Boer. “I never thought that metal would be so important in terms of my artistic practice.”

De Boer’s fascination with art began at the age of nine when he would spend his days watching documentaries on famous early Renaissance artists.

 “Those were my heroes when I was a kid,” says De Boer, adding that da Vinci’s flying machine was especially influential.

“I used to always scratch-build my own airplanes out of toothpicks and tow them around the yard and make them fly,” says De Boer, who later made rocket engines.

De Boer turned a hobby of creating airplanes and rocket engines into a career of creating various pieces of art with metal.

“I started building armour when I was in high school and I always had this life long fascination with it.”

Today, De Boer creates armour made for cats and mice, corporate custom gifts and elaborate sculptures in his studio in Southeast Calgary for clients on every spectrum.

“There’s rich and poor. But they’re always people who are looking for something completely original and something very special,” says De Boer.

De Boer’s mouse armour takes as little as 20 hours to complete.

Photo by Maria DardanoDe Boer’s mouse armor starts at $1,500, while his cat armour, starts at $12,000.The cost of De Boer’s armour increases depending on the complexity of the piece.

De Boer’s passion allows him to do what he loves everyday.

“If you have the passion for it, you just can’t imagine yourself doing anything else,” says De Boer.

mdardano@cjournal.ca