Written by: Diana Wallenberg
A real artist sees beauty everywhere, especially in places other people miss. The artist takes his vision, and from it, he crafts something beautiful and lasting, a work worth treasuring and passing on to future generations.
In a world full of build-it-yourself furniture and prefabricated cabinetry, it is hard to imagine anyone looking at unfinished wood and seeing the potential for a work of art. But that is precisely what Dmitry Ivanovs of Elegance Custom Cabinetry creates; outstanding works of artistic craftsmanship that will last for generations to come.
Remember Your Roots
Many artists travel great distances to achieve the vision they have for their work, and Ivanovs is no exception. Growing up in Latvia with his loving grandparents Dmitry always dreamt of making an independent and prosperous life in America, so when he received his green card, he was ecstatic. He arrived in America with little more than what woodworking skill he had learned at university and determination.
Ivanovs hasn’t forgotten the people who gave him roots. Dmitry has a great appreciation for his family in Latvia and the education he received there because they gave him the skills he needed to begin his story, in his words, “Everyone has a story; if you don’t have a story you don’t have a life.”
It Starts with a Dream
Dmitry Ivanovs’ magnum opus is the story of his life; it is a story of the fulfillment of the American dream. When Ivanovs arrived in this country he understood and spoke almost no English, but the few words he learned from a movie, “Hey, how are you? Give me a job, look what I can do,” were enough to land Dmitry his first job.
Like a true artist, Ivanovs and his boss communicated through pictures to overcome the language barrier, but Dmitry’s love of Dostoevsky helped him learn English. His boss found Ivanov’s’ craftsmanship so impressive he worked with this same man for three years. “I still have fond memories of that time” Dmitry recalls, saying that from time to time he runs into his former employer and they greet each other with a smile.
Although his first paycheck was humble, Dmitry saved as much of his $8.50 an hour as he could, and worked small side jobs as time went on, steadily building his savings and a client base. Finally, the time came for Dmitry to buy his first router, “I explain to everyone that that router started Elegance Custom Cabinetry.”
Patience is Key
No artist achieves instant greatness; renown is something that requires hard work and patience. In its first stages, Elegance Custom Cabinetry was just a promise of the fulfillment of Ivanovs’ dream; but it was not an overnight success. But Dmitry’s passion for his craft gave him the inspiration to continue to follow his dream, and build his business from the ground up.
Although Dmitry couldn’t afford his own space at first, he kept expenses down by sharing a shop with other independent craftsmen. Little by little, Dmitry’s client base grew, by word of mouth mostly. Ivanov impressed his customers with his skill and dedication to honing his artistry. Then, one by one, his shop mates left, and each time one moved on Dmitry asked himself if he could afford to grow a little bigger. Ivanovs was excited that his answer was always yes.
Eventually, the entire shop was his, and for seven years Elegance Custom Cabinetry and Dmitry have created heirloom quality furniture and cabinetry for their loyal customers.
Craftsmanship is a Labor of Love
Today Dmitry has earned a reputation for excellence among his clients, but many have little idea how painstakingly he works to create each wooden masterpiece. Leonardo da Vinci took four years in painting his Mona Lisa, and it took just as long for Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. Great artists know it takes some time to create something truly worthwhile. Ivanovs’ level of craftsmanship is reminiscent of these renowned masters. It can take up to 40 hours to create one cabinet, but the results are exquisite.
When people ask Ivanovs how he creates each work of art, he answers them honestly, “There is no easy way,” he emphasizes, “you have to put in the effort and hard work…it’s about challenging yourself to see how much farther you can go.” In doing these things himself, Dmitry has become a master of his craft.
Commit to Excellence
Although he rarely does anything halfway, Ivanovs’ real passion is restoring artistic vision to carpentry. His dedication to woodworking hearkens back over a century ago to the Arts and Crafts movement, when artisans like the Stickley brothers built homes that still stand as monuments to their handiwork, and are more like art than private residences.
Dmitry understands that an artist is not content to be “good enough,” and he looks at each project as an opportunity to hone his craft, comparing completing a job to an artist standing back and observing his work. “It’s motivating,” he observes, “also I have a better idea what to do next time.”
The same relentless commitment to quality Ivanovs applies to his work; he also applies to the equipment with which he creates it. He knows that to make extraordinary works of craftsmanship, it takes excellent tools. Even his first router was top of the line, “Most people are happy to get a tool that is decent and will most likely work out,” he states, “but I wanted the best because…I am committed to what I am doing.
Have Confidence in Your Passion
Even though Dmitry has achieved remarkable success and fulfilled his American dream, he still pushes himself toward higher levels of accomplishment and skill. His constant striving for something better is evidence in Ivanovs of the one thing that connects every master craftsman or talented artist: passion.
Passion gives artists inspiration and drives them to create. It pushes them continuously to be and do better than anyone else. That is the type of passion Ivanovs’ holds for his woodworking. In his words, “If you are not passionate about your design, it will be revealed in the final product…each beautiful form was created with passion.”
Dmitry’s passion for perfection in his craft makes him confident that his custom work superior to other cheaper options. He explains that inferior materials and craftsmanship will fall apart over time, and are not attractive when installed. Dmitry’s goal is to create works of art from wood, “I want to create something different…my drawer box for a walnut drawer will also be solid walnut. Who cares? I do.” His vision is to build works of incomparable quality that will be passed down for generations to come.
Crafting Masterpieces: A Lost Art
If you are looking for a quick fix, something good enough, or something cheaply made, you’ve come to the wrong place. There are plenty of options available for those looking for something disposable, but Dmitry Ivanovs will never be one of them. Comparing prefabricated cabinets to Dmitry’s is like comparing a child’s stick figure to a Picasso, or a play dough angel to Michelangelo’s David.
Ivanovs is dedicated to inspiring a new generation of master craftsmen through his beautiful work. His mission is best stated in his words, “Elegance Custom Cabinetry is committed to manufacturing quality products that can be passed down from generation to generation.”
Dmitry is an artist whose passion is crafting one of a kind furniture from wood. If you are like Dmitry and only want the best, then he is your man.