By David P. Ervin
When Hank Robinson got out of the Army in 2010, he thought the only thing he was good at was fighting the enemy. However, he discovered a new talent while navigating his civilian life.
After deployments to Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan as an infantryman, he went to welding school on the GI Bill. Something about the aesthetics of the metal gave him an idea, though. So he experimented with a Dremel tool doing some engraving. He made a few pieces a month, essentially toying with ideas. When he found they were well-received, he went for it and began selling the pieces online. Now he’s making art a living as owner and operator at Hanro Studios Engraving in Glendale, AZ.
To him, the work is calming and helps him escape. Passionate, he says, is an understatement. He’s found definitive purpose in creating his pieces. He is always thinking about the next project, new ideas, or ways to improve technique. It’s also a way to commemorate his brothers’ and sisters’ service, and to keep connected to the military world.
For now, his customer base is primarily the military and veteran community. He uniquely memorializes the fallen and commemorates careers. His preferred medium, the black aluminum with which memorial bracelets are fashioned, is “tough” and “it’s something that’s eternal,” invocative of gunmetal. He also works with wood and glass. There’s more to the gravity of his work than the materials. He says there is “no room for failure” when memorializing someone who lost their life. The detail and quality of his work serve as a testament to this belief.
Hank Robinson is a great example of finding personal solace and purpose through art while contributing to the greater community. It’s a gamble he’s found to be well worth it.