In the words of David Byland:
Everyone has a story. For me, it includes the blessing of being married 35 years and the father of three beautiful daughters, three wonderful sons-in-law, and two amazing grandchildren. I’ve also had the pleasure of being a college professor for over thirty years. But I have also worked as a cowboy camp cook, feeding 20 hungry men and women at a time before and after a hard day riding. I have portrayed Teddy Roosevelt in a one-man show I wrote. Based on his experiences in Oklahoma and Indian territories, I have brought one of our greatest Presidents to life for thousands of people.
When I moved to Oklahoma over twenty-five years ago, I was camping in the boulder-strewn Wichita Mountains, home to free-ranging herds of elk, longhorn cattle, and bison. After banking my fire for the night and climbing into my sleeping bag, I fell asleep under a cloudless, full moon sky. Just before dawn I woke up. The moon was still shining and the ground was covered in a thin layer of frost. It was silent, except for the sound of low rumbling and an occasional explosive snort. I rolled over and saw a small herd of bison moving almost silently through my campsite. I was struck by their beauty and grace…their sense of calm confidence and power. To me, they symbolized what the American West had been and still was…strong, beautiful, and enduring. Though I live in Birmingham now, I’ve brought that Western aesthetic with me and continue to develop my art and my craft as a master leathersmith.
It has been said that the things we surround ourselves with should look and feel beautiful. As an artist, I agree with that. I also believe they should endure. I’ve worked in various media…wood, photography, digital art…and they were all rewarding in their own way. But it was when I discovered leatherwork that I realized I had found the medium that really united all of my passions as a person and artist. Leather lends itself to practical use, but also looks and feels beautiful. It captures the romance of the old west, but is equally at home in the boardroom as it is on the ranch. Leather connects me to my love of the outdoors and the cowboy way of life, and gives me the privilege and pleasure of bringing that aesthetic to everyone I create a custom work of art for. Each book, or portfolio, knife sheath, or set of spur straps is created to last a lifetime. Each one is designed to capture the beauty of the leather using traditional western designs and modern motifs. And each one represents another step on my journey as an artist.
I have participated in art shows throughout Alabama, as well as in Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, and Oklahoma. I am an Exhibiting Member of the Alabama Designer/Craftsmen, and teach Sheridan/Western Floral Leather Carving at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina.