We had the good fortune of connecting with Bobby Marsden and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bobby, how do you think about risk?
The word “risk” is an often misunderstood word in my opinion. It means something different to each individual, their set of circumstances, and how they feel about the activity or decision in question. For me, I’ve certainly decided to perform activities that seemed to have low risk – by community standards. Unfortunately, the outcome in some instances was drastically different than I would have predicted. I think the key word there is “predict”. If there is one thing I’ve learned throughout my life, and that the world has learned in 2020, is that it’s impossible to predict the future. Even if you’ve planned for it. I believe that life is a series of decisions, big and small, and we are constantly mitigating risk. Even in the simplest of decisions, we factor in risk because we want the best outcome with every decision. What’s interesting, is we don’t often think in terms of risk when we are trying to decide what movie to watch on Netflix though. If you think about it, it’s a risk to make a decision because you may choose a movie you won’t like. What’s the loss? Maybe 2 hours of your time. Not bad. But that’s why we don’t think it’s “risky”. Not much to lose. It’d be quite different if the decision was whether to move to Los Angeles or New York. Many more variables and a lot more “on the line”. So with that, the pattern I’ve seen is “risk” only comes into play when the stakes are higher. And only the individual can decide when the stakes are high enough to be “risky”. I’ve decided to approach “risk” from a different perspective in business and truthfully, as I look back in my history, I’ve generally always approached life decisions this way. My approach is to not look at the “risk”, but rather ask myself how passionate I am about the thing in question. I believe that if your are passionate and believe in yourself, the “risk’ factor shrinks exponentially and ceases to become a factor in the decision. Conversely, if I lack passion (or I don’t believe I can do it), then the risk factor increases. Bottom line – I am a passionate person and at the same time, I am hyper-selective with what I get passionate about. Taking all of this into account – I am passionate about wood-working. I believe I can create beautiful, unique and design-forward home decor items. Passion + believing in myself = no risk.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As I mentioned, my introduction to art and specifically resin art was through my wife’s career shift into becoming a full-time artist. She needed help in certain areas, especially when it came to heavy power tools and wood-working. I naturally took an interest in the creative side of her work and learned as much as I could with each resin pour she would do. That led to an opportunity to create some barstools made out of resin and teak. We had repeat art collectors who asked if we’d like to try to make the stools and of course we said – YES! I had never done it before, but I did have experience with wood-working. My family is comprised of many builders and contractors – which is how I was employed through many summers in college. Combining that experience with what I learned over the years from my wife when it came to resin, I felt confident I could “figure it out”. I went through many “trials and errors” but in the end – the bar stools finished beautifully and it’s been non-stop commissions for resin furniture since. It’s odd, but I feel very at home when I am in the wood shop. Maybe it’s in my blood? I also have a high comfort level when it comes to resin and that is purely the result of working alongside my wife for so long. I had the opportunity to see what worked, what didn’t, and how it all behaved. Resin is a tricky substance but once you understand it, you can create things that many others cannot. I think that’s what sets me apart. I know how to create a certain look that others have a hard time replicating. I think it’s the difference between “nice” and “luxury”. Ford is a fine auto manufacturer. I know as we drive a Ford Ranger and I love it. But a Porsche is a whole different experience. They both get you from point A to B – but it feels much better in a Porsche. I’d like to think that my furniture items and sculptures are Porsche quality.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
This is a tricky question to answer during the pandemic of 2020! I won’t pretend it isn’t here. I’ll approach this from what reality is today. It’s how I like to approach everything anyway. I love exploring and I love the outdoors. It’s why my wife and I love California. It has everything. It has some things I could do without… but that’s an answer for another question… We’d certainly explore all the great hiking trails in Los Angeles. I’m a huge movie buff so we’d visit some locations around Los Angeles where famous movie scenes took place – like Griffith Park for “Rebel Without A Cause”. I also love to cook and that said, I like to go to specialty shops like Coastal Seafood in Santa Monica for their seafood selection. If I’m in the mood for Italian, there is a wonderful shop in Culver City called Sorrentos. They have sauces, pasta noodles, and the Italian attitude you won’t find anywhere else. I also enjoy shopping at Eataly but Sorrentos is my go-to for Italian ingredients. If I’m not in the mood for cooking and I want to eat out (when it’s ok to do so), I’ll hit up Jones Hollywood (the GM Keith is THE best), The Electric Own (best chicken sandwich) or The Pikey (best fish and chips). And if I need a break from southern Los Angeles, you can find me wine tasting in Paso Robles or camping in Big Sur.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate my “Shout-Out” to my wife (and talented artist) Christina Twomey. If she has not wandered into a Joann Fabrics one day to get a canvas and try painting, I would not be a furniture maker today. I have been with her for her entire journey with art as her husband and her biggest fan. That led to me helping her, and then working with her, learning from her, and ultimately getting my first client from her. I am eternally grateful to Christina and luckily, I get to thank her every day!
The picture with me and my client Nick DiLorenzo – we’re both kneeling by a table I was commissioned to make for him. He was thrilled with how it turned out. His quote is below: “Bobby was so good about communicating the creative choices, budget, and delivery timeline. Whether we were selecting the teak cut, resin color, wood stain, or table legs, he made the whole process super collaborative. It’s the perfect fit for my living room and is always a conversation starter — I feel like I played a real part in making the table!” The other group picture is of myself, my wife Christina Twomey, and our dog Kazan.