Spykman married his high school sweetheart in 1980, and they took off for the otherworldly city of New Orleans, where Gary set up his first studio/workshop in the spare bedroom of an apartment in the Fat City section of the "Big Easy." For the first half of the decade his woodworking pursuits were sideline experimental efforts, as Spykman worked in the bicycle business where he adapted his early metalworking skills to the design, construction and repair of bicycle frames. This interest lead him to open his own bicycle shop in Biloxi Mississippi, where he was known for his knowledge and expertise in frame building and painting.
Fortuitously, hurricane Elena, which hit the gulf coast in 1985, shut the door of the bicycle world for Spykman, both literally and figuratively, and lead him more intentionally into the world of fine woodworking. On the heals of closing his bicycle business, Spykman accepted an offer to be part of a team of craftsmen to fit-out the interior of what was at the time the largest and most expensive (read "ostentatious") house on the island of Martha's Vineyard. Following that job, Spykman continued to add to his skills in high-end architectural woodwork, and began a self-directed course of study in architectural and industrial design, beginning with classical architecture and leading to a focus in Twentieth Century design movements.
In the early nineties, Spykman began to produce his first Free-standing pieces of furniture. These first six pieces were exhibited in Gallerie Oceana in Edgartown, MA. One of the pieces, a white oak sideboard, was featured on the cover of the premiere issue of Taunton Press' "Home Furniture" magazine, which included a two page article on Spykman's work. This early success lead him to participate, by invitation, in the inaugural Philadelphia Furniture Show, where he received his first major commission, a dining table and eight chairs. Spykman continued to participate in this show, as well as the Providence Fine Furniture Show intermittently throughout the years.
In 1996 Home Furniture Magazine featured a small wall cabinet built by Spykman, with a side article on the unique finishing process he used. Spykman was featured in the show "Benches and Collages" at the Shaw Cramer Gallery in Vineyard Haven, MA. He also helped to envision and launch the annual Martha's Vineyard Furniture Show, with an aim towards promoting island furniture artisans.
In 1999 Spykman and his family relocated to Keene, New Hampshire, where he established a larger studio and workshop. In 2001 he was juried in to the New Hampshire Furniture Masters Association (NHFMA) as a full master, and has participated in annual shows and auctions with that organization since that time. Along with other members of NHFMA, Spykman was featured in a show at the Montshire Museum of Science, in Norwich, Vermont (2002), as well as in a major show at the Currier Museum of Fine Art (2005). He was featured in New Hampshire Magazine in 2002, and Woodshop News ran an excellent article about his work in 2004.
Spykman changed his business name to Spykman Design in 2006 to reflect his growing interest and partisipation in the larger world of design, including graphic design, architectural design, industrial design, and product design. His insatiable curiosity and love of the exquisite continue to drive him to take on new challenges in his life's work.
Gary J.W. Spykman lives with his wife (the aforementioned high school sweetheart) and his family in Keene, New Hampshire.