NIC Student Crafts Career in Furniture Design

Stephen Mackie is carving out a new life through furniture.

Mackie graduated in June from North Island College’s Joinery/ Cabinetmaking program in Port Alberni with renewed confidence in his own abilities an impressive collection of fine furniture he
designed and crafted himself.

“This program is invaluable,” said Mackie from his home in Port Alberni where he sits looking proudly at the pieces he created over the past year. “It’s goes beyond skills, it created a structure for me and has shown me a different life.”

The Osoyoos Indian Band member was adopted and grew up away from his birth family. He worked in Kelowna’s orchards and moved to the Vancouver area, where he hung out with friends, including a group of First Nations carvers, who one day asked if he could draw.

He took to drawing naturally, at first emulating established artists and creating his own designs for paddles and jewellery boxes, which he eventually carved himself, on and off, for years.
He moved to the town of Ucluelet a couple of years ago, hoping to sustain himself with his art.

“I was good at it right from the start,” Mackie said. “I never had a problem getting into galleries. I introduced myself with my art and looked for that ‘wow’ reaction. That’s what made me strive to create the next piece, each time I wanted a different reaction – a different wow.”

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