About the Artist
Vic Kirkman is a North Carolina artist who works intensely to advance his skills creating realistic ducks. He carves all types of waterfowl, but emphasis is on the realistic decorative decoy carved for competitions held on the East and Gulf Coasts.
Even though Vic has been carving seriously only since 1989, he moved up the ranks very rapidly and often wins over more experienced carvers. He competes in the professional ranking and has won numerous Best-in-Shows and always places in top honors at major competitions in the Southeast. In 1998 Vic won Best-in-Show and the People’s Choice Award at the East Carolina Wildfowl Arts Festival and he was a Featured Carver at the Virginia Wildlife Art Show that same year. In August 1998 Vic also won a Best-in-Show in decorative gunners at the Gulf-South Championship in New Orleans. He has been published in several times in Wildfowl Carving Magazine and selected for the famous Decoy Calendar for 2002. Another exciting year was three-in-a-row Best-In-Show wins at the Core Sound Wildfowl Festival, the East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival, and the Mid-Atlantic Wildfowl Festival in their 1995-96 events. Vic also has the honor of displaying his work in the Village of Yesteryear at the North Carolina State Fair every October. He has judged most of the major carving competition events in the Southeast and has been a judge of the N.C. Federal Junior Duck Stamp Contest for several years, (a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sponsored event). He is an active committee member of the IWCA (International Wildfowl Carvers Association) and a board member of the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild. He has won many open class blue ribbons at the Ward World Championships and been a serious contender in "World Pairs" several times. Vic does not consider awards and recognition as important as his efforts to teach and advance the craft into an art form.
Vic has lived in Raleigh since attending N.C. State University. Born in Lumberton, N.C. and raised in a hunting and fishing family, he developed an early interest in the wildlife indigenous to the swamps, rivers and woodlands of Southeastern North Carolina. This interest carried over into studies of the biological sciences in college and later employment in the biological supply field. Summer jobs included working with investigators of the N.C. Department of Wildlife/Inland Fisheries doing fish and fauna surveys of N.C. lakes and rivers. Vic's woodcarving experience began as a Boy Scout when he and his father would carve neckerchief slides, knife handles and gun stocks together. He watched his father carve bird dogs in relief on redwood and mahogany. He attributes his interest in woodcarving to his father, but downplays the theory of a "natural talent." "I just work very hard at it and try to develop a methodology that can be passed on to others." He is currently teaching the art of sculpted decorative waterfowl to enthusiastic students from all walks of life. Many have already won major events at competitions and dozens of his students have won Best-of-Shows at IWFCA and other events.
In addition to his in-shop teaching activities, Vic has developed methods of teaching on the Internet and is the first to introduce a comprehensive Wildfowl Carving Instruction Program on the World Wide Web. From his website he offers 25 steps to carving a waterfowl species with detailed instructions and fine images that anyone can follow. This program has been received gratefully by the North American wildfowl carving community and endorsed by some of the finest artists in the country. Vic freely offers assistance and demos from his Eggtooth Newsletter on his website and sponsors a popular wildfowl carving community forum called Bird Carvers Online. He has a vision of the Internet being the way to teach novice in remote areas of our country and to promote the art of wildfowl carving.
The Cajun style of carving has had a strong influence on Vic and he has studied those methods extensively via Curt Fabre, the Brunet family and other Cajun carvers. During his annual 2 weeks in Southern Louisiana, an area rich in wildfowl carving tradition, Vic studies with Mike Bonner, a world class carver from New Orleans, perfecting advanced painting techniques and elements of artistry. North Carolina professional carvers have also been helpful in his carving pursuits. Vic and his students occasionally carve a songbird, miniature or a novelty item for fun and to hone skills. However, each weekly sessions are mostly serious work and intensely focuses on the art of decorative wildfowl sculpture. He says that this is currently considered one of America's finest folk arts and is rapidly being considered as fine sculpture by the art world.
Vic Kirkman hopes someday to be recognized as a major contributor to the advancement of this artistry through his teaching and excellent work. Vic took early retirement to focus on teaching, his wildfowl carving goals and the two or three commissions he accepts per year. To do this successfully, people have to know who you are and that you are good at what you do. "I hope my work will speak for itself to lots of people. I want to leave some beautiful creations behind and inspire other carvers to advance the art form." Vic says.