What may seem like an ordinary item to the everyday person becomes extraordinary piece of art for Hoosier native, Terry Border. But as he likes to share, he's no ordinary person - and there's no ordinary object. Terry has the unique ability to anthropomorphize everything from a peanut to a toothbrush and turn it into art. His work is clever, crafty, twisted - and wildly popular!
In a studio from his Greenwood home, Terry uses a spool of wire and a pair of pliers to create hands and feet, making inanimate objects come to life. Before you ask, this isn't something Terry set out to do for a career, but now that he's doing it, he can't think of anything else he would rather be doing.
"I got lucky in the sense that I've found a way to combine my three skills and passions (photography cartooning and sculpting), merged them into one and found a way to entertain myself and others," says Terry. "I probably couldn't have done this if I tried."
Terry has rejected the art label and when asked, considers himself to be an "arteest." He may not think of himself an artist, but he definitely has the skills of one. A graduate from Ball State University, with a B.S. in Fine Art Photography, Terry worked for many years as a commercial photographer. After leaving the industry, and without a "real job," Terry found himself working at a local grocery store, where he started to see items come to life. He recalls walking through the produce section, seeing a plastic lemon next to a natural lemon and wondering if that lemon was insulted by the fake one. Not many people think that way, but Terry hopes his work will inspire others to think differently.
"I really want people to see things in something they haven't seen before," explains Terry. "What we may consider to be a mundane item may actually have feelings, may actually have a story to tell - and it's my hope to tell those stories and encourage others to drop any misperceptions and see things differently."
For Terry, the whole world is an inspiration - and it's been that way since he was a kid. Growing up, he was the kid who thought everything was alive and had emotions. He recalls feeling bad for the toy that never got played with or wondered if the food left on his plate felt dejected. Today, he's using unusual characters and scenarios to tell stories and entertain.
In the beginning, Terry tried selling large-scale sculptures. When that turned sour, he found sweet success by taking pictures of smaller sculptures and posting them on the internet. In 2006, Terry started what he calls his Bent Objects project, a blog where his characters come to life. He figured if he was entertained by the living characters and their stories, maybe others would be too. And they were.
Terry credits the internet for his success. Many of his early photos went viral and his blog became popular in a short period of time. For Terry, the internet provided a bit of anonymity and allowed him to experiment while crafting his craft. As he gained more exposure, he gained more opportunities.
In addition to his popular blog, Terry has become an international phenomenon. Bent Objects has been featured in magazines in the U.S., China, France, Russia, and Italy, and at one point was the number one "culture" link of the year for the London Telegraph website. He has two books featuring his collections, published by Running Press, and is currently working on a children's book for Penguin Publishing. You also can find his work featured in wall calendars and various greeting card images through American Greetings.
Terry has found a career from his wacky, creative work. However, he is quick to acknowledge that making money from Bent Objects has not always been easy. "Let's just say I'm glad my wife has a good job."
The natural and raw talent Terry possesses is combined with his own interest in amusing himself. "I look at objects and wonder what they remind me of and then I create a story about that. I have a good sense of humor, which helps."
His humor rivals that of Gary Larson's Far Side - one of his early influencers. As a cartoonist, Terry finds humor in just about everything and every situation. He never takes himself, or his work, seriously. He believes we all have different outlooks on life - his just happens to be one where he thinks nearly everything is absurd, including himself. And that helps, as he continues using his twisted sense of humor to entertain himself and others.
So what's next for this self-proclaimed "humorist, photographer, earthling?" He's hoping for more laughs, more posts, more stories and more opportunities. Although he's focused on the bigger picture of writing more children's books, he simply wants more people to know and appreciate his work. And when they do, he hopes his work will inspire creativity and a new way of seeing the world.
If Terry could share one bit of wisdom with the world, he would say:
"You know those things about yourself that you're self-conscious of? Those quirks that you're trying to hide? Those are not your weaknesses, those are your strengths. Use them."