One of the hottest new collaborators in events productions around Kansas City is Patrick Corogenes. He’s an unlikely artist who spent three decades selling insurance before rising quickly to become a sought-after artisan. His work has been seen at the Jewel Ball, Trapp and Company, Jazzoo and Pryde’s of Westport.
Corogenes, who started his arts and crafts business just a year ago, cuts designs using high-tech equipment. He silk screens images on wood. He designs dog bowls, comic storage boxes and tube amplifiers that can connect to iPads, iPhones and MP3 players.
Corogenes works at the community workshop Hammerspace. He has a store with his wife on Etsy called Romany House.
Why did you leave insurance and securities sales?
After the crash we had a few years ago, I decided I did not want to do that anymore, not because I hadn’t made money, but the pressure of that. I’d always sold insurance, and if that policy says we’re going to do something, we do it. For the first time, I was sitting in a situation where I didn’t know what was going to happen.
Why did you go into engineering art?
All through my career, I was engineering things on my own, designing stuff and building it in a shop. That was there all the time: woodworking and electronics. I was selling insurance, I had this interest and I had a woodshop. I said, “How can I make money with this?” I had all these sales skills.
The first thing I did was around Valentine’s Day. I taught myself how to use the drawing program. I drew a simple cupid. It was made out of Lucite and plastic. I went around selling it. The second call I made was to Trapp and Company. It was crazy busy, but they said, “You can cut Lucite?” I said “Yeah.”
They said, “Wow, get back to us.” So, within six weeks of that, they became my first steady customer.
Though you have an Etsy store, it sounds like you’re getting most of your clients the old-fashioned way.
That goes back to selling insurance skills. When you sell insurance you have to be a pretty bold salesman, ask anyone who’s done it a while. It is very aggressive sales. This is child’s play compared to selling insurance.
Why is there a niche for what you do?
I think it has to do with box stores. We all go to the same places and see the same things, and you could go into any home, and the interior design looks very much like the interior of anyplace else. You know where they bought it so you aren’t seeing individual things. So we are there to make individual things.
Is it about the art or about the sales?
It depends on who you are, and it depends on me. When I thought it was about the art I created the Bongo Amp (speaker system), but it was hard to make money with that.
Midcentury modern is a style I like. A lot of my work is based on that. The design of the beer box is an origami box. It’s got this curve and these connectors. It’s all pieced together like origami.
How do people find you?
I find them. I really don’t spend much time advertising. Other than social media advertising and the classes I’m doing and going to shows.
I call up and say, “I’m going to do these things, and I think you might have an interest in this for your store. Do you?” They say no, I move on. Not a lot of people can do that. I know that’s a weird skill set, but I can do that. So I use that.
How do you find that next big thing?
I guess I’m inspired through my family. A year ago my insurance license came due, and I didn’t renew it. That was hard because I had it since I was 20. That was letting go of a big deal. So I had a lot of confidence I could do this, or I would not have done that.