Tucked away in his shop with the East Tennessee mountains as his backdrop, the artist crafts a new pen. The smell of Walnut and American Chestnut wood fills the air in a small room that doubles as his art studio. Music from Muddy Waters pulses from a small speaker in the corner. The Whitetail deer head hung on the wood panel wall seems to watch in anticipation of what he will create next. A single-shot shotgun hangs above the door-seemingly in contrast to the sign next to it-“Grandpa’s Work Shop-Broken Toys Fixed Here.” For the past five years, this has been the setting as he creates his next masterpiece.
The artist, Rick “Bear” Hinson, has spent his life in pursuit of the next artistic peak. From the second grade, he knew his life would always involve art. He has used paint, pencils and woodworking tools to craft amazing, one-of-a-kind creations. From his humble shop, he has produced pens that are now held in esteem by judges, doctors, country music artists, lawyers, preachers, writers, and bankers, just to name a few. His ideas for new pens out pace his calloused hands’ ability to physically keep up. He’s used materials that range from baseball bats and corn cobs to acrylic and antler.
Rick Hinson grew up in the small middle Tennessee town of Hohenwald. After meeting his wife, Fay, they eventually settled in Columbia, Tennessee, where they had one child, Cody. Rick became known as Bear from an inmate in a prison where he worked as a prison guard and recreation director. As recreation director, Bear was able to teach inmates about art. After working in prison, Bear began working for Andy Anderson of Anderson Studio fame in Nashville. Under Andy, Bear was able to learn and hone his craft as an artist. Anderson studio screen prints t-shirts, but Andy is also a well-known automotive custom painter, particularly motorcycles. Bear learned the art of flame-jobs, candy-jobs, and pin striping, which he would use later as he struck out on his own as a custom painter. Bear worked in Nashville for more than twenty years. In the late nineties, Bear began painting motorcycles on the side for S&G Cycles in Columbia, which turned into a full time job. While painting motorcycles, Bear also painted portraits and other pictures on the side-a past time he still enjoys- and began following his interest in wood-turning and making pens.
As his time as a custom painter wound down and the allure of retirement grew closer, Bear’s grandson, Ryder, was born to Cody and his wife, Kristy. Cody, Kristy and Ryder moved to the East Tennessee mountains. Bear and Fay followed soon thereafter, settling on a small farm. By this time, Bear’s passion for making pens had blossomed. Despite retiring from custom painting motorcycles, he did not slow down. He concentrated his efforts from painting to making pens, which he does to this day.
Bear’s lifetime interest in art has resulted in the creation of fine-writing instruments and hand-crafted wooden expressions that grace this website. The pens pictured are but a small example of his craftsmanship. Every pen that is made is unique and special, just like its creator.