‘Bear’ Hinson a man of great ‘pen’manship
by GREG KAYLOR, Banner Staff Writer
Mar 14, 2013 | 2086 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Hidden Cleveland
RICK HINSON crafts custom writing instruments — fountain and ball pens as well as pencils. This is a finished ball-point pen.
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Tucked away in a little room in the basement of his home, an artist works.

Rick “Bear” Hinson takes artifacts and manmade materials, shaping them by hand and machine to perfect his artistic creations.

But his creativity is much deeper than making custom writing instruments.

When he was in the second grade, his teacher noticed something special about Hinson.

The observation was what set his course to form his profession … a most interesting craft where he would work with some pretty big names in the music industry.

His artistic ability on several fronts has provided him joy and a living.

The ink pens he crafts from pieces of wood, bone, acrylic or any other workable materials are unique in style.

Added touches such as Swaroski crystals, gemstones and other items have also been added.

Hinson can transform the base material, such as colorful acrylics, into a pen in about an hour.

Cigar styles are thicker and heavier, mostly made from deer or elk antler or various skins or wood.

One of his most popular pen designs is made from polished carbine casings.

The pen bodies are crafted, then fitted with the hardware such as ink barrel, pocket clip and mechanism inside the body of the pen.

Hinson creates fountain and ball-point style fine writing instruments.

His love for art set his course while he lived in Columbia.

Hinson would commute each day to Nashville.

After graduating from Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson on a Special Abilities scholarship, Hinson worked with youth for a while.

“I taught art to inmates at the Turney Center for Youth Offenders,” Hinson explained.

Hinson met the lady who would be his wife and the couple got married and had one son, Cody, who is now a Cleveland Police officer.

The young couple continued to live in Columbia.

“A man from where we lived was serving a 99 year-sentence for murder in the penitentiary,” Hinson said.

Hinson continued working with inmates through art.

“I had a big, bushy beard and one day, the man nicknamed me ‘Bear.’”

“The name stuck and everyone has called me ‘Bear’ ever since,” he said.

Through his career, he has worked with music artists as well … designing T-shirts and fan collectibles.

He met Faron Young, Willie Nelson, Bill Monroe, the Louvin Brothers and others, but couldn’t grasp what they had done for music.

“Later in life, I began to realize the somewhat lack of respect for some of the people I knew in the Nashville scene,” Hinson said.

“Lack of respect” meaning their artistic endeavors as founders of earlier country music and how people like Young and others shaped the industry as songwriters and performers.

“I was more into a newer type of music then — Southern Rock,” he said.

To Hinson, they were just ordinary people … just like him. They became personal friends so knowing them wasn’t really a big deal to him.

One of Hinson’s most popular T-shirt designs was for “Earth Day.”

Tens of thousand of shirts were sold of just one design he had done for the popular scheme.

After working in Nashville for United Garment International, he retired to Columbia.

The hour-long drive each way, each day to Nashville had gotten old, according to Hinson.

“I told Faye I was going to stay in Columbia, do some portrait work and do custom paint work on motorcycles … specifically Harley-Davidson bikes,” Hinson said.

After five years, the Hinsons closed shop in Columbia and moved to Cleveland.

Their son had gotten married and Ryder was born.

“We moved to Cleveland to become full-time grandparents,” Hinson said.

Shortly afterward, Hinson began making the custom ink pens.

“I don’t paint very often anymore, but would if anyone need a custom portrait. The pens and pencil sets are a hobby which is fun and I can make a little money with,” Hinson said.

The Museum Center at Five Points markets local artists creations from jewelry, pottery, clothing, soaps, historical books of the area and many more items — including the fine craftsmanship of “Bear” Hinson.