It’s time again for the Destin Seafood Festival, and this year there will be roughly 42 artists showcased at the festival. There will be some familiar faces among the artist booths, as over the 39 years that the festival has run there have been some artists that have come back time and time again to share their wares with the Destin community. Here are a few who will be back again this year.
Paul Luczynski of Coconut Critters
You will find him in his booth among the bright tropical signs and the festive tiki cups; Luczynski is about as laid back as his art portrays.
“I’ve been part of the Destin Seafood Festival since the mid '80s,” said Luczynski. “I’ve been in the craft business for 43 years, I was (in Destin) in the good old days, back when the festival was up there where Hooters is now. I had the No. 1 spot up there for a number of years.”
Luczynski, who lives in Key Largo, said he is especially looking forward to the festival this year as he and his family are still reeling from Hurricane Irma.
“My whole house is under 5 feet of water right now, so it makes things hard,” he said.
Although his art has transitioned over the years, Luczynski said he has always kept a tropical theme. He once made wooden model boats, then added decorated coconut cups, and today he is more well known for his painted signs for condos and homes.
“We will have a lot of whimsical creations,” he said of this year’s booth. “We will have tropical drinks with a lot of whimsical things on them and a lot of tropical things that we customize such as tikis that we design and produce. This year we are going to bring our new smiley boards – you know the emojis you see on your phones – we have them on personalized signs.”
Ross Jones of RJ Oceans
Jones is a taxidermist of a different kind.
“I do crustacean taxidermy,” he said when asked to describe his art. “I preserve lobsters and crabs. I make them into designs to hang on the wall. I don’t do mammals, fish, birds and reptiles – as far as I know I’m the only one who does crustaceans.”
Jones said for the past 40 years he has been scuba diving and making crustacean taxidermy as a hobby, and that it has only been in the last decade that he has made his hobby a full-time job.
So how did he first come up with the idea?
“I’m a certified diving instructor and underwater photo enthusiast,” he said. “I catch most of the Florida spiny lobsters, Florida slipper lobsters, and Caribbean spider crabs, and the rest I get from other fishermen.”
Jones said he has been coming to the Destin Seafood Festival for eight years now and has always gotten a pretty good reception for his unique art.
"If you have a nautical theme in your house, you will fall in love with us,” said Jones. “If you’re a nautical, salt-water-loving person, most people can’t believe it. It’s just a really good show.”
Find Jones by searching for RJ Oceans on Facebook.
Robert and Tammy Derwick of Fine Line/Be the Myth
At Robert and Tammy Derwick’s booth, you will get two-for-one artistry as the husband and wife each bring their own expertise to the show.
“He’s a second generation glass artist, with hand-carved glass and mirrors, sculptures and sand-blasted artwork,” Tammy said of Robert’s art, Fine Line. “As for my work with Be The Myth, it’s all mermaids. The originals are done in pencil drawings and then I make them into pendants, shirts and a full product line with coasters, coffee mugs, wine glasses and other items.”
The couple met in the art world in 1991, and have been creating their ocean-inspired art side-by-side ever since.
“We met each other through art,” said Tammy. “I designed with him before I started doing the mermaids. Now we’ve worked together for 25 years and have hosted our dual booths at the Destin Seafood Festival for about six years. We enjoy the show for sure.”
Tammy said for her part, she likes the idea of portraying the human form in a nautical theme.
“I’ve always been interested in anatomy drawing and I’ve done a lot of underwater art and the two just seemed to go together,” she said.
As for Robert, his work is well known in the Destin area as two of his larger art pieces sit at the entrance of the Fort Okaloosa Island Visitor’s Center.
“I have two big glass sculptures right in the entrance,” Robert said of the Visitor’s Center. “A porpoise dolphin and a big marlin, and they are both 7 feet tall.”
Robert has been attending the Destin Seafood Festival for 18 years now, and the duo has been joint hosting a booth for six. Find the couple’s artwork at www.finelinestudioglass.com or look for their booth at the festival behind Galati’s Yachts.