The Bogart brothers, of Burn It Icons, immortalize famous figures onto wood plaques.
When it comes to making art, brothers Niel and Dean Bogart enjoy recreating their favorite figures from comic books and Star Wars, but the medium they use is a hot one — literally.
The Bogart brothers are the craftsmen behind Burn It Icons — the brand for their wood-burning art pieces and 3D metal models. The brothers specialize in immortalizing characters, figures, symbols, maps and other icons on solid pine plaques and also create other iconic objects out of metal.
“The wood grain on pine has an art look to it,” Dean said. “Pine has (a) really cool (look) with the grain on it.”
Niel, 37, and Dean, 39, are originally from San Diego. They both currently live in Dr. Phillips, and they’re even neighbors. Niel has lived in the area for about six years, and Dean has lived in the area for about nine years. When they’re not creating their iconic pieces, the brothers use their artistic abilities in their day jobs. Niel is an associate course director for game design at Full Sail University, and Dean is a multimedia design engineer at Lockheed Martin, where he does 3D modeling.
When it comes to creating their wood-burning art pieces, the brothers first draw a design on a piece of transfer paper — which is similar to the stencils used in tattooing — and then draw the design onto the wood. From there, a burner is used to engrave the design onto the wood. Once the design is burned onto the wood, the edges are routed and the entire piece is sanded a few times. After that, it’s stained, painted and then finished with a few coats of polyurethane, which helps protect the wood and preserve the design.
Dean specializes more so in creating the 3D metal models. For those he first designs, crafts and cuts individual pieces out of cardboard and then later uses the cardboard pieces to create identical pieces out of steel. Once the pieces are created, he assembles them together and welds the pieces in place to create a 3D model.
“You get your stencils made out of cardboard first to get the main scale, and then once you start building the pieces of metal, it all kind of goes together like a model,” Dean said.
Like many artists, the Bogart brothers both started drawing when they were children. Their late cousin — Nick Bogart Jr., who passed away in June 2007 — is the one who inspired them to pick up a pencil and start drawing.
“My cousin was an illustrator — he wanted to draw for Marvel and DC,” Niel said. “He used to come over to our house and draw, and from what I remember, that’s what kind of made me want to draw.”
“We both looked up to our cousin at how good he was at (making) art,” Dean said. “That kind of got us to start sketching superheroes, symbols and anything we can really draw.”
Although the Bogart brothers have been artists since they were children, they didn’t get the idea of creating the wood and metal art they do today until they took a trip to MegaCon in 2016. After making their way through the Artists Alley at MegaCon and seeing the various media the artists used to create, the brothers came up with the idea.
“We had gone to the show and walked around … and me and (Dean) were trying to figure out what’s a good thing that we can do that nobody else does (at MegaCon),” Niel said. “There was a gentleman at MegaCon that does leather pieces, and we were trying to think of something that we can do … to kind of incorporate all the stuff that people do here. (Dean) likes to work with wood, so we figured we’d try to do wood (art). We’d seen some things with burning. We kind of figured we’d spice it up and make it our own with paint and ran from there.”
Once they had the idea for Burn It Icons in mind, they created some wood-burning art pieces and got a table for MegaCon 2017. Their pieces sold like hotcakes in their first year, and they’ve continued to table at MegaCon since then. After the first year, they began incorporating 3D metal models. They produce and sell most of their work around MegaCon each year, however, they also are open to doing commission work.