Vagabond Scenic Carpentry Company was founded in Chicago in 2017, the side project of a frustrated, underemployed carpenter who had dreams of building for fun and not just for a check. Working in California since 2021, Vagabonds has adapted to changes in climate, culture and circumstance to sustain a humble, but growing scenic carpentry company with 2 full-time, skilled carpenters and support staff.
After 20 years experience in the carpentry industry starting as a laborer on new homes in Central Illinois, Matt Bauer was introduced to "scenic" carpentry when the housing market crash in 2007 left many residential tradesmen out of work. Matt moved to Chicago to chase new opportunities and experiences. Although new home construction jobs were hard to find, the need for skilled carpenters building sets in the exploding Chicago film industry was realized. A constant effort to seek projects and build a social network proved effective when Matt was finally given the opportunity to build for show.
The shift to building for entertainment was a welcome change for someone always looking for new experiences. From his beginnings as a trade show furniture fabricator, to live theater builds, museum exhibits, and arena concert sets, Matt had evolved to meet ever changing requirements while learning from the best in the industry. After several years as a permit grip for Chicago Stagehands IATSE Local 2, Matt earned a Journeyman Carpenter position with the Motion Picture Studio Mechanics IATSE Local 476 in 2014. Matt started working on teams that fabricated sets for film production including top rated television and motion picture projects.
A brief gig at ComicCon introduced Matt to the endless summer and sand of Southern California. In 2021, he moved from Chicago to San Diego with hopes of breaking into the scenic carpentry market with Vagabond Scenic Carpentry Company. Starting from a rented 2 car garage in Bay Ho, San Diego, Vagabonds quickly gained success building for SeaWorld, LegoLand and other entertainment and marketing clients.
Unexpected circumstances would again test Vagabonds resolve when Covid lockdowns decimated the entertainment industry. In an effort to survive, Vagabond Scenic began to DBA as Vagabond Handyman and they called on past experience in residential carpentry to meet the needs of neighbors that were now staying home. Realizing forgotten maintenance projects as well as modifications needed for the new "work from home" requirements, Vagabond Handyman soon gained a reputation and word of mouth referrals quickly resulted in full time work with residential projects.
This transition was not without complications and the Vagabonds are forever grateful for the opportunities and patience extended by their neighbors. The last few years have been an unexpected lesson in humility, flexibility and perseverance. The appreciation extended by the community will never be matched by even the top production companies.
Moving into 2024, the goal of Vagabonds is to again provide hero scenic products for any client that will appreciate the creative effort involved in custom fabrications. This should include anything from a neighbor's favorite Pinterest idea to sets for motion picture, theater, haunted house, escape room, marketing or educational environments.
Vagabond Scenic and Vagabond Handyman will never be above helping a neighbor with their residential handyman tasks or volunteering time in the North County community. It was these neighbors that kept Vagabonds fed the last few years and this will never be forgotten.