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Local Legend Discovers Hidden Passion

May 7, 2021
Turney Maurer

Aaron Jacob, Owner of ShapenWood Art & Frames, has been an Austin native since he was born in lake Travis the year of 1986. During this time he loved to play football and was involved with powerlifting. However, it wasn’t until later in life he discovered his passion of creating a unique style of art. We caught up with Aaron for our Local Legends series to learn more about his story and how he started ShapenWood.

Aaron Jacob, CEO ShapenWood, Lake Travis Wildcats 1997.

Humble Beginnings

Back in the day (aka 15 years ago) Lake Travis was a small hill country community where everyone knew everyone. Since then, the town has grown in population and the football team is a powerhouse. This doesn’t change the fact that Aaron gained his artistic roots from LT though. In fact, he proceeded to tell me all about how he played Pop Warner for the Lake Travis Wildcats and did powerlifting in high school. While athletics and exploring nature with friends were his passion then, he mentioned that drawing was always an interest.

Side note, I am from Lake Travis myself. My older siblings were friends with Aaron, so we would see each other every once in a while. One day he showed up to my house with a newly-painted BMX bike customized by him for me. When I mentioned that, we laughed and he said “I busted up my shins on that bike many times, but painting it for you was awesome, you were so pumped about it!”

Mermaids, wakeboarding, and music. ShapenWood Lake Travis roots inspiration.

A Rough Patch

After high school, Aaron moved to Beaumont for a job in the construction industry where life was not as well as it was for him in Austin. He became an alcoholic and explained to me that the past 15 years of his life had become a blur. It got to the point where he considered taking his life, but by the grace of God, his brother called him and realized something was terribly wrong. He called the EMS and showed up with their family in time to help get Aaron to the hospital and further rehab for 90 days. During this time, he realized how alcohol blinded him from seeing all of the beauty in his life right before his eyes - his wife and kids.

Aaron told me that he “feels lucky to be alive and grateful that his family helped him earn another chance. Since that day years ago, I’ve been able to grow close with my kids and wife, as well as discover what I’m truly passionate about. Art has helped provide me with a gift to give back to the world.”

A New Light

In the middle of hearing Aaron’s story, I started thinking, how did he end up an artist with a unique style if he never pursued it in the past? I proceeded to ask, so he unfolded the story.

“Not long after I went home from rehab, NOVA in Wimberley, my wife and I went to Home Depot one day. While walking through the aisles, I noticed a cool Wooden Burning Kit. I mentioned to my wife that it would be fun to mess with that, but never looked back at it and really didn’t think anything of it. My next birthday, she gifted it to me. That was the beginning of an unexpected, self-discovering journey for me. The most beautiful part of it is that I would have never discovered this passion of mine had it not been for my family saving my life, or my wife being attentive to what I find interest in.”
Burn Tool & initial sketch before it goes to the wood.

Discovery through Trial and Error

Wow, so that was inspiring to hear. Although, I was curious as to how he found his style. 

Aaron said, “First, I took the tool to my garage and started burning shapes into old lumber that I had laying around from old construction projects. Then, I started messing around with the different burn pens and quickly fell in love with it. I decided to push myself further and attempted to create my brother a personalized piece for his birthday. For this, I sanded down some wood and formed it into a frame. Next, I traced a deer photo from my book of ‘Record Deer in Texas’ with pencil and paper. From here, I transferred it to graphite paper and began burning my design into the wood. My brother loved it, so I decided to start practicing as much as possible.”
One of ShapenWood's original deer carvings.

Order a Custom Design from ShapenWood

Now, ShapenWood has 48 pictures completed and 14 of them sold while 5 of them were on display in the Lago Vista Public Library for the entire month of June. His skills are continuously improving, and when I asked Aaron what he calls his style, he said “I call it freestyle because well, I haven’t seen anyone else with this style, not even on YouTube!”

To order a custom design or to purchase one of ShapenWood’s frames, message them on instagram or call the number listed on our Go Local App under “ShapenWood Art & Frames.”

Aaron, with ShapenWood on display at Lago Vista Public Library for the month of June.

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