Artist, Craftsman or Businessman?

Mike January 3, 2013 1


When I asked Ian Preszler which title fit him better, he answered “Craftsman” . . .then added “slash Artist”. When he began work as an apprentice architectural blacksmith 16 years ago, there were 4 experienced craftsmen he could work with in Northern Montana and a very hot market for this specialty. The home building market was flourishing and many of the right customers looking for his craft. Today, he is thinking through types of marketing that help him weather the smaller market.


Most of the projects he works on utilize his artistic ability, which includes design and sometimes creative manufacturing methods to achieve the design. His shop demonstrates a journeyman’s environment with many handmade tools for general and specific uses depending on the project.


His artistry comes into play with specific customer requests that generally begin with a simple idea by the customer and then followed by sketches and designs by Ian. Ian also is involved with the installation to ensure that everything meets the customer’s expectations. He utilizes welding, cutting tools, forging, hand forming and almost any metal technique you can think of to create and manufacture his designs.


When asked what keeps him up at night, Ian responds “wondering if the phone will ring”. But without hesitation, he follows with the comment, “what gets me up every day is that I know I can go to the shop and make something to sell”.

While Ian thinks of himself as a craftsman / artist, he also demonstrates a clear understanding of what his key assets and core strengths are. He knows his customer and is true to his craft. He differentiates himself by his artistic creativity along with a quality product and he has steadily built a loyal clientele that builds his reputation mostly by word of mouth. He continues to experiment with new ideas and develop new techniques to add to his portfolio. This is a pretty savvy businessman / artist / craftsman, if you ask me. You can reach Ian by email at


Thanks, Thanks to thee, my worthy friend,

For the lesson thou has taught

Thus at the flaming forge of life

Our fortunes must be wrought

Thus on the sounding anvil shaped

Each burning deed and thought

From “The Village Blacksmith” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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