As an artist, I see what isn’t there. I see possibility.

To create something unique, sometimes you need to go against the grain. To explore the unexplored...

JCruz signature

I deeply enjoy this exploration and the development of new objects and occurrences. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to create something every single day—this is my happy place.

Growing up, the behavioral expectations for my siblings and myself were as rigid as the walls of our home. We were expected to be predicable and abide by conventional rules. There was a low tolerance for curiosity and disruption. We grew up in a working class neighborhood and my childhood, like that of many people, was overcrowded with "NO".

Since I was young, I have had a different perspective on everyday objects and occurrences. As a young man, I was less interested in socializing and developing relationships than in manipulating and creating the environment around me, which brought me great fulfillment. Things were never settled as they were; inquisitive, I saw endless opportunities everywhere. Improvements to the status quo emerged crystal clear in my mind.

...I saw endless opportunities everywhere.

The plan was to be a doctor. But then my father enrolled in a welding class at the local community college, and brought me along. Little did I know, this class would provide an outlet for the artistic, creative side of me. Working with metal awakened a dormant ability. It was like discovering Play-Doh for the first time. The smell, the taste, the colors—the possibilities were endless! This was the proverbial light that shined through the crack in the wall.

No longer was I the child that felt out of place, trapped and without the freedom to make things and change things. Now, I was the kid who cut, bent, and sculpted metal. The metal always said YES. If I dreamt it, the metal became it.

Then came my first door job. I made a steel security door for a family member. I can still remember cutting the metal, by hand, with my dad’s hacksaw. One door led to two doors and two led to countless more. This skill now became a vehicle to fund college. It was a grassroots effort—selling doors, ironically, door-to-door.

Demand dictated that I hire a sub-contractor and then another to complete orders. In the blink of an eye, there was a company, with employees and customers who expressed an overwhelmingly positive response to our distinctive screen doors, designed to fit with regional trends. Our clients couldn’t get enough and fast enough. School was placed on the back burner and soon abandoned to address the needs of the company. We redefined the security screen door industry in Tucson. It was a time that I will always treasure, working diligently with my wife and brother, shoulder to shoulder, on door after door.

Twenty thousand screen doors later, it was time to evolve. We began to explore the entry door market. We created Rustic Elegance, a dedicated entry door company that concentrated on Old World/Tuscan style doors. These entry doors consisted of embellished iron designs and offered greater opportunities to explore my craft.

I still see what isn’t there, but now I use this vision to remove rather than add—to remove that which is cluttered, superfluous, distracting. This has been challenging, as many people, myself included, are programmed to add rather than remove. My initial design phase was based on regional trends. My second design phase was based on embellishment. My current design phase is based on simplicity. I like to remove all of the unnecessary stuff, to cut away the noise. What is left is the essence of the door.

Sometimes I wonder, “Why doors?” I suspect that I fell in love with doors because they are a vehicle of transition, of change, and I like change. The front door is especially interesting to me. Our front doors send many messages. The front door is a barrier to keep people out. It protects. It is also where we lower our defenses to welcome home loved ones, and to send them back off into the world. The front door is the membrane between private and public. Between here and away. So much of life happens at the front door.

I like to think that we don’t make doors; rather, we create an experience. The front door is an experience. What I seek is to frame this experience in the most beautiful, enduring, and functional way possible.

modern steel door pulls hand sculpting tools and anvil
heating handmade and custom designed door hardware for sculpting
modern steel door hardware hand made and custom designed
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