Building a home takes not just technical skill and know-how, but requires a high degree of artistry as well. It’s not surprising then that most members of the Hammer & Hand team possess a vibrant streak of artistic talent. Painters, actors, musicians, authors… Just about everyone on staff has a passionate hobby or creative side-gig outside of work.
One such individual is Apprentice Carpenter Annie Rentz. Both an illustrator and a musician, Annie has always been drawn to the art of building. “This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” says the California native, “even when it didn’t necessarily make sense in my life.”
Before moving to Portland, Annie lived the first half of her life in Santa Cruz, California, where she spent much of her free time hiking, backpacking, and camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Having learned to play guitar when she was 12 years old, Annie dedicated her 20s to a passion for music. She enjoyed years of playing live in local Portland venues; however, like many of those now shuttered stages, Annie’s desire to perform grew quieter. “There reached a point where I just naturally didn’t feel like performing anymore,” she says, her voice colored with nostalgia but absent any hint of regret. “It just felt right.” She still reaches for her instrument in the privacy of her home, but no longer performs live. Instead, she now expresses her abundant artistic impulses through building and drawing. Her art nouveau-inspired pen work evokes the aesthetic of classic French lithographs, managing to straddle the line between baroquely ornate and elegantly minimalist. Beautiful in its organic complexity, the delicate borders and centralized goddess figures pay homage to the late 19th century Parisian theatre posters popularized by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha.
The European influence in her art comes, perhaps, from having lived a cumulative 3 years in Spain over the course of her life. Having been introduced to the country through a study-abroad program, Annie fell in love with its culture and people. She dreams of one day being able to split her time between sharing meals with her friends in Spain and camping with her dad in the Eastern Sierras.
After a decade of varied experiences, living on two continents, making a living bartending while playing music, Annie decided to seriously examine her longstanding wish to work in homebuilding. She was drawn to Hammer & Hand in particular because of our expertise in historic preservation construction — and because our website showed photos of our whole crew, which she found personable and approachable. Despite not thinking she had much of a shot, she requested an informational interview and was instead offered a position. Three years later, Annie has gone from dreaming about building houses to becoming a skilled and beloved member of our carpentry team!
An artist of eclectic skill and talent, Annie is most fulfilled when she gets to work on a project from start to finish, watching a home evolve from a dream to a reality. “When my first project was done,” she confides with a smile, “I even cried a little.” It’s exactly that sort of passion and investment in building that makes the Hammer & Hand crew stand out from the rest!
See part of Annie’s on-site interview on our YouTube channel! Make sure to LIKE, SUBSCRIBE, and click that BELL to make sure you don’t miss any of our great project videos and staff interviews!Back to Field Notes