As the nights draw in and we prepare for winter to arrive in London, the Rigby workshop is a warm and bustling hub of activity. We stepped inside to chat to Max Ellaway, a new engraver who joined the team earlier this year, to ask him how he’s finding the job.
Tell us a little about your background – where you grew up and went to school.
I was born and grew up in Chiswick, West London, where I attended Chiswick Community School. I then studied for a further two years at Camberwell College of Arts. I enjoyed drawing animals and wildlife from an early age and while other hobbies would come and go, artistic composition and drawing has always felt like a part of me rather than a hobby or pastime. It was interesting in my early 20s when I finally got to see my father’s drawings and gun engraving designs for the first time and could see how similar they were to some of my drawings.
What was your career path before you worked at John Rigby & Co.?
Well, the idea that I could become an engraver for some reason seemed a bit out of reach for me a few years ago, and I ended up working in various jobs including electrical installation and set design painting. Funnily enough, the electrical installation jobs involved a fair bit of hammer and chisel work!
In 2019, when the world took a pause, I decided to clean up and use some rusty gravers I had found with some other belongings passed down to me. I sharpened three hand push tools which I used for two years before working with a pneumatic tool. I believe this has built a solid foundation for hand cutting. These four years past I have lived and breathed engraving; practicing skills and gathering tools. It’s been challenging, at times frustrating but in the end when things come together it’s extremely rewarding, and I know this is just a taste of what’s to come.
How did you hear about the position and what made you interested in Rigby?
At a Hand Engravers event earlier this year I heard a lot about Rigby, and there was a real buzz about the exciting ground they were breaking in the gun trade. Soon after that I went for an interview. It was clear that the forward-thinking attitude to design and scope for new and exciting projects was something I wanted to be a part of. I’m so grateful that I have a job here and it’s been a dream come true.
What were your first impressions of Marc and the team?
When I joined Rigby, Marc Newton, Ed Workman and the team were very welcoming and made the start feel natural. The whole team has been very helpful whenever I have a question to ask. It’s also great to work in a place where everybody is so passionate about what they do! Working alongside engravers with the skills that Geoffrey and Saija have is just propelling my skills further and developing me so quickly.
What have you been working on so far?
Since I joined Rigby, I have been improving my engravings of animals and learning lettering with metal inlay. I would say that I am most proud of the compositions and ideas that I have been building. I’m also so proud of the new skills I have been learning at Rigby, like the metal inlay and trying to capture the look of a buffalo asking for his money back on metal!
What do you like to do outside of work to relax and unwind?
In my spare time I like engraving…. haha, it’s true! I also like to wind down in the evenings by listening to an audio book or watching TV. If it’s a weekend night I might head out to shoot some pool with friends, go somewhere to listen to live music or take in a movie at the cinema.