Jason Lyons

Age: 45
Hometown: Harrisburg, Pa.
Find him: @jlyonsarts, jasonlyonsarts.com
Go-to artists: Folk art is a big influence. No big names, per se, more outsider artists.
I’d like to grab a beer with … French found-object sculptor Edouard Martinet. His work is amazing.

They shuffle into his studio in midtown Harrisburg and start pointing.

Jason Lyons just sits back and listens.

“Oh, I remember those,” they’ll say.

“I think that’s an old vacuum cleaner.”

“My grandma had that silverware set.”

Eventually, they turn and start asking questions.

“Is that a shoehorn?”

“Are those typewriter keys?”

“How does it all stay together?”

That surprise and delight, the recognition that he took a pile of junk and turned it into something beautiful, is what Jason is after. Sculpting wild animals out of things people have tossed aside is an unusual job, he knows, but it’s no mystery how he got here.

Jason’s childhood probably wasn’t like yours. Long before he ever picked up a welder, when he was just a boy growing up in Texas, Jason and his father spent a lot of time traipsing around junkyards.

“He was always taking us out to go junk hunting. We picked up tin cans and bits and pieces of who-knows-what. We had a backyard full of stuff just laying out weathering. Then he would take the pieces, cut them up and build these old steam locomotives.”

The trains were lost on Jason, but he loved the adventure, the thrill of finding just the right junk, and traveling to art shows with his father and sister. One year, after high school, he got a welder for Christmas and tried making a few sculptures of his own. It didn’t work out, and his life took a turn for the normal.

He studied graphic design. Moved to New York. Got a job at DC Comics. Moved back to Texas. Met a girl. Followed her to Harrisburg. But the more time went by, the more he couldn’t get those sculptures out of his mind.

“I could see time passing quite quickly. It was kind of a now-or-never decision. We were at a point where we could do it and it was like, yeah, let’s give it a shot and see what happens.”

It hasn’t been easy. There’s no constant paycheck. Finding supplies is tough. Deadlines can be tight. But the thrill of finding the perfect pieces, the challenge of fitting them together (he hammered out 72 bottlecaps for his Art of Tröegs fish!) and the amazement of people who walk into his studio keep him going.

“There is a desire to create. There is a desire to build things. When I’m in here putting on spoons and typewriter keys, everything’s OK. It’s just something I need to do.”

Art of Tröegs

It’s your turn to get in on the art. Take a piece of Tröegs – bottlecaps, cans, labels, whatever – and create a piece of art. The winner will be $500 richer, and they’ll get their name in lights when we open our brand new art gallery this summer in Hershey, PA. MORE