Palm Coast artist combines love of fishing with love of painting.
When Travis Luther was a toddler, his father would take him on early morning treks to their favorite fishing spot at Cobb’s Corner on Highbridge Road just north of Ormond Beach. Fishing has always played a major role in Luther’s life, eventually influencing his art directly. If asked which came first, Luther would rank fishing as No. 1 and art as No. 2, but as his art evolved, the two have established a symbiotic relationship.
“I have always fished and sketched as a kid,” he said. “I am super stoked that my two favorite activities are fused together at this point.”
Travis Luther was born in DeLand in 1986 and was raised in Pierson. He has since moved approximately 36 miles northeast of his childhood home to a Palm Coast neighborhood with his wife, Niki, and their 5-year-old daughter, Penny, where he has built an art studio in his garage.
When Luther was 18, he decided to follow a career path in nursing. He was hired as a tech at Halifax Hospital’s in-patient psychiatric unit where he took care of patients who were coping with mental illness. This experience proved to be invaluable when working with people but an overwhelming position to maintain. After a buddy showed him how to paint, it became a primary source of stress relief.
In 2015, Luther began painting pictures of fish on wood. Once he had a few pieces completed, he convinced the Oyster Creek Outfitters, a fly fishing shop in St. Augustine, to display some of his art. Interested clients began to request their own fish paintings, which Luther kept declining. The shop manager took matters into his own hands and booked a commissioned work for him.
“I was not happy,” Luther said. “I asked him why he did that and his response was, ‘It’s $500. I already did it. Just do it.’ and I did. I guess the rest is history. I’m really happy he did that to get me going.”
“Artwise, I wish my old man was here to see this. I think he knew what was coming, but the really good stuff is now.”
While still working at the hospital in 2018, he booked three months of commissions prior to Father’s Day and gave his two-week notice to his supervisor. The barrage of work continued into Christmas with 2020 being the artist’s most successful year yet at over one commissioned painting per week.
On July 3, Luther put on a live painting demonstration and exhibited 10 3-D paintings at Thays Art Gallery and Studio for Ormond Beach's first Saturday Art Walk. Gallery owner Thays Franca met the painter while he was doing a demo in St. Augustine and asked if he would be her featured artist of the month.
“I barreled through 2020,” he said. “I think I did 60 pieces, all commissioned. It was awesome to work, but I wanted to do something a little more creative. I went back to a body of work I did years back and started doing 3-D pieces again. I thought this would be the perfect place to show this art. It's a great space.”
After years of producing art for others, Luther has recently started to concentrate on designs that interest him. Fishing rod racks shaped and painted like mahi, brown trout and bonefish are his current passion projects and where he is focusing his creative energy.
“Artwise, I wish my old man was here to see this,” he said. “... He got to see my early fish paintings (before he died). I think he knew what was coming, but the really good stuff is now.”