Todd Johnson: Leaving Impressions

I’ll be honest and forthright here. I’ve been an admirer of Todd Johnson’s work for some time, and have been wanting to do a highlight of his work here on the Briar Meditations blog for some time. I just never got around to it as more and more things kept getting in the way. Well, today I decided to wait no longer.

Influencing other high quality pipe craters like acclaimed Steve Morrisette, and blast-master Bruce Weaver, Todd Johnson comes with some pretty high marks. His finished product does not disappoint any expectations, regardless of how high they might be.

Having been given a pipe as a gift from a friend, the seeds of passion to move forward had been planted. The drive to begin a pipe carving career is best partnered with a skill-set matched to that desire, and perhaps more than anything, a facility to follow your dreams that encases all the necessary tools to being.  Starting as a pipe carver in the year 2000, he had earned the basic skill through years as a work-carver and wood worker. He had what he needed to give him a shot at following this drive. Add what Todd Calls “specialized machinery”, and he was off and running.

It is difficult to categorize the work that Todd does. As I can see in a great many other carvers,there are patterns, unique style applications, specialized finishes, accents or something that sets them off apart from the work of other carvers. While I can say that much of the work of Todd Johnson is sanctified from other professionals, it is not something that can be labels or that one can put your finger on. It simply, “is”. In his work I see Japanese, Egyptian, Danish, as well as English influences – but they are just influences. Pipes made that say something like, “I have an English/Danish/Japanese [insert influence here] style, but I dare you to define me, or name my maker”. I like that about his work, and apparently so do a great many others.

Todd describes his work this way:

“Formal studies in aesthetics, both as an undergraduate at Samford University, and as a masters student at Yale, have further inspired my work. Conscious influences range from George Nakashima to Sam Maloof, but I often find myself contemplating the likes of Foucoult, Umberto Eco, or Coleridge as I work. Aesthetics is a conversation between an object and its body of observers. Sometimes I endeavor to make my work shout, at other times whisper, or at other times inquire and explore. This conversation is important to me and, as every artist, I hope that my body of work will speak, and ultimately achieve something, move the conversation forward. As a good post-modernist, however, I believe that my intentions are far less important than the resulting interpretation of my work. Ultimately, what my work says is not up to me. It’s up to you. So I will sit back, smoke my pipe, and listen to the conversation.”

Knowing that he has influenced many others, his affect on the industry may not yet be finished. Like a Head Coach ion the NFL who’s assistants move on to be equally qualified Head Coaches elsewhere, the “tree” may just be beginning to branch out. But, alas, we know where the roots are.

Where can you purchase a Todd Johnson pipe?
United States
Available for direct purchase only in the US
Eddie Wong –
Galereja Gradusov –
Pipeshop Moscow –
Al Pascia –
Keigai –
Scandpipes –

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