Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Metal artist Josh Berry’s origin and future plans
By Christina Stock
In part 1 of metal artist Josh Berry’s story last Sunday, his newest project was featured: A hi-tech sign in the form of a rocket, which combined the retro look of the atomic era — a favorite of Berry. In part 2, Berry’s background, his brand Metalmark and his future plans are the focus.
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It is not always obvious where one’s talent will lead, as it is the case for Dexter native Berry. He had graduated from Goddard High School, attended the University of New Mexico before becoming a model in Atlanta and later an actor with Screen Actors Guild credits in Dallas, where he supported himself as a waiter between roles.
In 2003, Berry returned to join his father, Tom Berry, who is one of his biggest influences in his life, sharing the same passion for restoring cars and creating functional art. As a matter of fact, Josh Berry said that his father joined him three years ago, helping him create the animated LED-lit rocket sign that adorns the outside of Stellar Coffee Inc., downtown Main Street today. Bob Darrow helped with programming the flames on the rocket.
“My dad taught me a lot of the basics when I started the business. For the last three years, my dad has been working with me at Metalmark. He runs the laser and does the CAD programming for it,” Josh Berry said in a phone interview. “From there it’s just been experience on the job. I just learn as I go.”
Berry said that faith in God made him what he is today. His family includes his wife Ari Berry, who is head of Metalmark’s marketing, and his baby girl Iyla Rhyan, who was born only last year.
The rocket is not the first sign the artist created, though it was the most difficult project. Other recent projects were a sign for Christ’s Church and one for Spaceport Roswell, smaller projects can be found for sale at different shops in town and include retro industrial looking lamps.
Asked what caused this change in careers, Josh Berry chuckled and said, “Like anything else in life, I completely fell into it. That career I had before this gave me lots of time off between jobs. At that time, I lived in the shop I work in now. There’s an apartment that we built in it, a little one-bedroom apartment. So I was living in here, during my off-time between jobs, I started playing around with lights and what actually happened, started the whole company. We live on a farm now and we were redoing this farm nine years ago. I was out there and was going through the barn, and on the top of the barn where there was nothing but garbage, I found this light box. It was about 4 feet long and was made out of walnut and had these lights in it. It was covered in dirt, you could barely tell what it was. I talked to my dad about it. My dad was an artist when I was growing up — that was a lot of my influence — he was very creative and he had built that when I was 3, we had just moved out to the farm. I redid that, put in new lights and the whole thing. People, when they came over, they asked about it and several people wanted to buy it, so literally that’s how the company started. Our motto is: Not the same.”
Metalmark is an unusual brandname, asked how it came to represent his art, Josh Berry said it was not the first choice. The name was supposed to be Jayand A.; a play on his and his wife’s first names. “The night before we get our business cards made — we are having a big show the next day. A buddy of mine, Jacob Roebuck, comes over and he’s just very blunt, ‘You know that name isn’t very good.’”
Josh Berry said that Roebuck pointed out how others would pronounce the name and that didn’t sit well with him.
“I am walking around and am stressed out, what am I gonna do? Our symbol is a butterfly, if only there was a butterfly that had a metal name. And my wife goes, ‘Well, there’s a Metalmark.’ ‘What?’ And she says, ‘Yeah, Metalmark butterfly.’ ‘Why didn’t you say that two months ago,’ because we’ve been searching for a name for two months. So I look it up and sure enough, there is a butterfly called Metalmark butterfly. It is a Chilean butterfly, they’re beautiful. And that was it. It was our symbol and it lent itself to it and it felt just perfect right in that second. It all happened within two hours. It was one of those instances where I felt, there is no way it would work out and it ends up working even better than it was before. That was one of those faith builders, that it worked out in the last minute and we have a funny story to tell,” Josh Berry said.
Last year the Berrys had planned to turn the apartment of their shop, which is along the railroad, into a showroom. However, due to the pandemic they decided to postpone its opening. “It’s possibly 75% ready at this point,” Josh Berry said. “So we’re pretty excited about it. I would say some time around late February is probably when we’ll have the showroom open. I’ve got friends who are in retail right now and they’re hurting. They told me, I wouldn’t rush to open anything until it levels out. I think that’s wisdom.”
A new generation
During the installation of the rocket sign, two young men were helping Josh Berry. They are his new apprentices and brothers, Lucas Martinez and Joseph Martinez. “They just graduated,” he said. “It was funny how it worked out, because the younger one (Lucas Martinez) who’s been longer with me, he just graduated from the welding department out at college (Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell) and their program, but he needed to intern somewhere, and he needed to do 180 hours to finish and get his degree in welding. So right when I was praying needing someone, his mom called me that week and asked, ‘Hey, can my son work for you for free for 180 hours?’ So it really worked out well, he already knows how to weld. I didn’t have to train him to do anything. He’s been excellent to work with.”
Joseph Martinez graduated from ENMU-R’s media department and according to Josh Berry, is in charge of Metalmark’s media.
“It’s a good thing that happened and we’re really encouraged about it. It is time to start a little expansion now,” Josh Berry said.
For more information, visit metalmarkseclectics.com or visit its Facebook page @metalmarklife.