Cafe interview with Phil Coggan
Phil Coggan is master class engraver who can do it all. His stunning work graces the finest sporting arms, and the Cafe is fortunate to have him as a member. Since arriving a short time ago, he's added many new fans to those of us who marvel at his creations. Thanks for the interview, Phil. Many of us want to know more about the man behind the chisel.
Q. What's your name?
A. Phil Coggan
Q. Where are you from?
A. South Wales, UK.
Q. How long have you been engraving?
A. About 30 years all in, about 24 professionally.
Q. What made you want to become an engraver?
A. I was very interested in antique guns, and taught myself how to make them, each gun had a certain amount of engraving on it which I tried to copy, gradually the engraving took over from making the guns.....it's a lot easier!
Q. Are you a hobbyist or professional engraver?
A. Professional.............I think!
Q. What was your biggest obstacle when you first started?
A. Not knowing anything about the tools and not being able to find any books on the subject.
Q. Are you a hammer & chisel and/or push engraver, or do you use
pneumatic tools, or a combination of hand and power?
A. Hammer & chisel and push engraver.
Q. What are your favorite books pertaining to engraving?
A. The Italian books, also Creative Art, fantastic works of art.
Q. Of the old engraving masters, who's work is among your favorite?
A. Karl Klimsch.
Q. What's the worst engraving mistake you ever made, and how did you fix it?
A. In the early days, quite a few, but too embarrassing to mention.
Q. What are the majority of your engraving jobs (guns, jewelry, etc)?
A. Guns, although I have engraved a few knives in the past.
Q. What type of magnification do you use (microscope, Optivisor, etc)?
A. I use a 4 x glasses type and a 10 x hand loupe, in fact it's the one I started with, all those years ago.
Q. What part of engraving do you find the most challenging or difficult?
A. It's thinking up the design for a new gun, trying to make it a little bit different than the previous ones
Q. What part of an engraving job do you dislike the most, and why?
A. Probably inlaying barrels.
Q. What's your favorite part of an engraving job, and why?
A. Having a customer tell you he likes the work, and putting the money in the bank!
Q. Do you like or dislike lettering, and why?
A. Lettering is ok, it takes a bit of time to do but it's all part of the job.
Q. What kinds of engraving do you refuse to do?
A. Pornographic or anything I don't like.
Q. How do you rate the quality of engraving done today as opposed to
50 or 100 years ago?
A. The engraving today has come on leaps and bounds, but some early engraving still holds it's own.
Q. Do you perceive any part of hand engraving as a dying art?
A. Machine and roll engraving has been with us for many years, lasers can and probably are used in production work but I think hand engraving will always be there for the individual pieces.
Q. What country or countries impress you with their highly skilled engravers?
A. It's got to be Italy, they've got it in their blood.
Q. What affect has the internet had on your hand engraving?
A. It makes finding animals, birds etc. A lot easier, and i'm all for easier.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to learn engraving?
A. If you want to engrave bad enough you will find a way, just practice, practice and practice, but remember don't be worried about not being able to engrave like Fracassi, everyone reaches their own level in whatever they do.
::: Personal :::
Q. How many children do you have?
A. I have two sons.
Q. What's the occupation of your wife/husband?
A. My wife looks after me, or should I say puts up with me Lol and our two Cavaliers.
Q. If you have traveled, what was the most exciting country you
visited and what did you enjoy most?
A. I liked Florence and Rome with all that artwork.
Q. Besides engraving, what are your hobbies and interests?
A. I have a 4 mm. scale model railway, mostly scratch built, but what takes most of my time is my recording studio, it's not that big but now and then some fellow musician friends come over and we have some fun.
I did this Aerosmith cover a while back.
Q. Where is your favorite place to be?
A. Sorrento, my wife and I go there every year, we have done for the past fourteen years, we've made lots of friends there.
Q. What's one thing of which you are most proud?
A. Watching my two boys grow up, I think most of you know what Simon does, my youngest son Scott is the top designer with DFS.
Q. When you were a child, who was your hero?
A. The Range Rider.
Q. Tell us something few people know about you.
A. I played in various rock bands up until about ten years ago, in the sixties I played in places such as The Cavern.
Q. Where were you on September 11, 2001?
A. Working, and watching in astonishment and disbelief.
Q. Do you have any pet peeves?
A. People who say Fing instead of Thing and don't prenounce 'T's such as Har instead of Heart, why don't they speak proper ' Like What I Do' Lol.
Q. What is your favorite thing to do in your home town?
A. Walk my dogs around the lake.
Q. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would it be?
A. Hank Marvin.
Q. What one person was most influential in your life?
A. Alan Brown and Ken Hunt.
Q. Who (living or deceased) would you most liked to have met?
A. George Harrison.
Q. Describe what you would think of as a perfect day.
A. A summers day out with my wife to somewhere like Ravello.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like to say to the folks reading this?
A. I have only joined Sams forum for a short time, and I have had an overwhelming experience, thanks all for this and your kind comments on my work.
Thanks for that Phil.
You know, looking at your work, it truley is awe inspiring and just goes to show how far engraving can go. Amazing.
Thanks for providing the interview and especially letting us know about your other talents in music. Am I the only engraver on this forum with no musical talent??? My brother got all the musical (and some say artistic) talent in our family.
Thanks also for providing pictures of your inspiring work and helping others with answers here.
C. Roger Bleile
Author of American Engravers series of books.
NRA Benefactor Life Member
Without craftsmanship, inspiration is a mere reed shaken in the wind. Johannes Brahms
Thanks for taking the time for the interview! Hope you become a regular at the cafe hangout.
Phil, that for taking the time, I haved learned alot from you already,look forward to seeing more tutorials .that was a big help
An insightful interview...
Your work is inspiring...
Thank you for sharing,
Great interview Phil. Really enjoy seeing your work. Thank you for sharing.....
Thanks Phil, good interview. I also really enjoy seeing your work.
Thank you so much for sharing your work. You are an inspiration.
World class, as good as it can be done.