Heart of an artist beats in SAIT service worker

Shane Innes, Photo

He can be seen working around the SAIT campus, but few students know the true passion of Blair Dawes.
Deep inside this service worker – whose job it is to keep campus  facilities in working order – there’s an artist striving to make a name for himself.  For a while Dawes’ creative side had been dormant.
But as of last May, the artist within him has been sparked back to life with a series of work influenced by both historical pottery and classic tattoo art.
Dawes was born in Calgary, raised in Golden B.C., and grew up with art on his mind.
“Grade 9, for me, was the turning point for wanting to do art,” said Dawes.
In 2000, Dawes left Golden to study at ACAD.  He intended to major in painting, but soon found a taste for ceramics.  With a love for the clean lines of graffiti and a growing knowledge of ceramics, Dawes was able to create a 3D version of the urban art.  His graffiti could stand on its own, and be viewed from all angles.
After completing a bachelor of fine arts, Dawes left ACAD feeling burned out.  “When I got out of art school, I didn’t want to do any art,” Dawes said. “I had done it so much, we analyze it so much, that I just wanted to step back.”
Dawes entered a work period for several years, riding a snowboard as a creative outlet, rather than making art.
Recently, Dawes’ talent has been reignited with urging from his fiancée, Sarah Corbett.  Corbett had been teaching at North Mount Pleasant Art Centre in Calgary, and encouraged him to embrace his passion or teach a class.
Last May, Dawes and Corbett decided to launch their own business. Salty Sea Dog Designs has been growing steadily ever since. “We just put our heads down and started making work,” said. Dawes “(We’d) work all day, and then go home and eat, then work all night.”
Dawes and Corbett create a wide variety of pieces, which are clean and unique.  In only six months the business has grown with support from the roller derby scene in Calgary. Rather than showcasing in a traditional gallery, Salty Sea Dog Designs are on display for sale at derby bouts.
In the future Dawes and Corbett plan to open their own gallery in Ucluelet, B.C., and intend to follow their hearts and have fun with what they are doing.
“Everything we do is basically fun,” said Dawes. “I’m tired of analyzing art.”

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