Strapped into a career

Marshalltown resident Kyle Landas has left his stamp on the world of country music, and even some pop stars.

Landas is a leather artist who has designed straps for some of country’s biggest names.

“I love it,” Landas said. “I could never go back to a normal day job.”

It was an injury on the job as a bricklayer that led Landas to working with leather art. He gave a guitar strap with his art on it to Willie Nelson at the Meskwaki Casino several years ago and it snowballed from there.

Word of mouth led to more stars requesting pieces of his work they could use on stage.

One of the biggest advocates of Landas’ work has been country star Jerrod Niemann.

“Other people saw that he had them and they wanted one,” Landas said.

The 1997 Marshalltown High School graduate remains in awe that his work has caught on among celebrity entertainers such as Brad Paisley and Billy Bob Thorton.

“It’s odd to me,” he said. “I still think that I’m just learning and growing as an artist.”

The straps represent approximately six to 30 hours of work for each one and are typically sold for between $400 and $2,000. Landas moved back to Marshalltown from Atlanta last fall and works out of the basement of his home.

He has had an art background and took a brief tutorial on leather art, but much of his work has been learning on the fly.

“It’s just a lot of trial and error,” he said. “It’s all self taught and trying new things.”

He said his straps stand out for their “trippy” designs, such as one used by Niemann that has a naked woman standing atop a mushroom. Pop star Justin Bieber has even used one of the straps produced by Landas on stage.

Even with the success of his straps, Landas said he would like to move more into the leather fine art pieces into the future.

His framed portraits such as those of depicting celebrities sell for thousands of dollars each.

“My goal is to give new life to this art form and bring the fine art collectors market in a new direction,” Landas said. ” I want to create pieces that will shock people when they hear that what they are looking at is in fact leather.”

For more information on his work, visit his website at Landas will also be a part of the Art Walk in Marshalltown on Oct. 3. He will have a booth set up at Sub City during the walk.