When Leigh first contacted us about setting up at Marietta Marketplace, we were overjoyed to discover that this talented artist had recently moved into a small cabin deep in the woods outside of Marietta, Ohio. Designer and illustrator Leigh (Cox) Bond works primarily in watercolors and pen & ink, her work inspired by the wildlife that surrounds her. Country living makes it near impossible to not catch something flying or scurrying by every time she glances up from her desk, and the abundance of local wild life offers a variety of subjects. We asked Leigh to tell us a little more about herself, her work, and her love affair with Mid-Century Modern.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m originally from Columbus, one of three girls. I have drawn and painted for as long as I can remember – I never really entertained another career path. My dad is the editor of Fur-Fish-Game Magazine, a long-running publication for “Practical Outdoorsmen.” My sisters and I were raised fishing, camping, hunting, and ALWAYS outside. After graduating from high school I moved to Chicago to attend the School of The Art Institute. I lived in Chicago for almost nine years, where among other things I got my degree, met my future husband Michael Bond (who is from Amanda, OH – Ohio people always find each other!), learned to love falafel, and had a haphazard string of art-related jobs.
What drew you to the Mid Ohio Valley?
In early 2010, Michael and I both realized we were bored with our jobs (I was doing typesetting/admin for Paper Source Invitations and he was a web developer for Ogilvy & Mather) so we sold everything we owned, packed up two suitcases and our dog, and moved to Costa Rica. We loved living there, but after two years we had an itch to move again, so in August 2012 we bought a pair of tickets to New Orleans. We arrived just in time for Hurricane Isaac, and when the power came back on a week later, we had a message from Michael’s aunt and uncle (lifelong residents Susie & Jamie Stacy) here in Marietta. Their old cabin was sitting empty, surrounded by 130+ acres of forest, and waiting for us to try our hand at country living. We took it as a sign, and showed up at their doorstep with the same dog and suitcases the following week.
Michael’s father’s family originally hails from Barlow, so he knew the area a bit, but we were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked it here. It has been a great spot to work and relax, and we’re just a short hike away from Jamie & Susie’s for when we want to fish or trade stories about Grandpa ‘Husky’ Bond.
What has surprised you the most since you’ve moved down here?
How much love, effort, and pride the people of Marietta put into living here. I’ve been to a lot of small towns over the years (My Dad is from Portsmouth) and I’ve never seen a community that supports each other like this. From small things like regularly changing the flags and hanging baskets on Front Street, the amazing 24-7 recycling center on Gilman, to the crowds of locals we see for every Merchants and Artists Walk, it truly amazes me how involved people are in the community.
Have you fallen in love with anything in particular?
This is a tough one… my first instinct is to go with Rinky Dinks Flea Market, specifically the parking lot in nicer weather. I swear that if you’re really looking for something specific, you can say it out loud and you will find it within two hours – it’s magic. Getting a beautiful vintage drafting stool for $15 is great, but it’s even better when it’s from a barefoot dude playing air guitar to his dog. I also love The Tin Rabbit, Josh (the owner) is a living encyclopedia of mid-century design factoids and knowledge, and most of our furniture is from his store!
Let’s talk about art. How has living in the woods inspired you?
Living in the woods has brought me back to my original passion for wildlife illustration. All through college I spent the majority of my credit hours hiding from my peers inside The Chicago Field Museum, nose to nose with a taxidermied animal trying to draw and paint every detail. I had two years of Independent study under the Field’s Artist in Residence Peggy McNamera, who taught me so much. After college I started to burn out on wildlife, and experimented more with cartooning, design, and silkscreening. Once I moved here I immediately started drawing birds again, getting to see my subjects on a daily basis is such a treat. There is currently a Red-Tailed Hawk vs. Crow turf war happening outside of our house, and I’ve been drawing nothing but hawks and crows.
Do you have a favorite subject to illustrate?
This changes every year or so, but right now it’s absolutely birds of prey. We have several amazing examples here, since moving I’ve seen (and heard) a Great-Horned Owl, Barred Owl, Red-Tailed Hawk, Coopers Hawk, and countless others all from my deck. I’m working on a series of brush and ink drawings of different hawks, I really enjoy trying to capture the depth, pattern and texture of their feathers with just one color and tool.
Who or what are your biggest muses? This could be absolutely anything.
Not to be a cheese-ball, but I would have to say my husband Michael. When I met him he had just got a design degree from University of Cincinnati, and was running an indie record label with his friends (Check them out! Datawaslost.net) while touring around the country with his band, Coltrane Motion. He was also living on my friend’s couch, as his plan to move to the West Coast had run out of gas money in Illinois. Within a month of being in Chicago, he was juggling a full-time programming job and freelance design gigs, all while booking shows and recording around town – and had landed an apartment without roommates (a real rarity at that point in my life) which sealed the deal for me. He made me strongly reconsider my “working just enough to pay bills and buy beer” lifestyle, and the entire ten years we’ve been together he pushes me creatively every day. The phrase “good enough” does not have a place in his vocabulary.
What’s next for you?
Getting more involved with the artists and community here in town! Working from home and living in the woods has made it easy to turn into hermits, but everyone we’ve reached out to here has been more than welcoming. I’m participating in the Marietta Marketplace this month, and I’ll have a table at The Marietta Adventure Company for the Merchant and Artists Walk in July, selling prints and originals of my wildlife illustrations. Come say hello! We have a budding recording studio with an unhealthy amount of vintage synths set up in our loft, not to mention a fire pit, a shooting range (I’m not half-bad on a .22), and a wonderful Aunt and Uncle who will keep you glued to your seat for a week with some rowdy stories of growing up here in Marietta. Michael and I are looking forward to sharing our resources and growing our roots here in town!