Ron Livingston is the South Dakota artist behind Ron’s Custom Carvings, an emerging art line that features original carvings using Niobrara chalk rock, a unique material forged during the Cretaceous period more than 80 million years ago. The rock is only found in certain areas along the Missouri River in South Dakota and Nebraska, and in the White Cliffs of Dover in England.

Livingston’s specialty is crafting one-of-a-kind carvings of the native wildlife that he has encountered in his home state.

“Most of my art is fashioned after what I’ve seen on the Missouri River,” Livingston says. “The blue herons, the pelicans, the eagles … All of my inspiration comes from what I’ve seen when I’ve been on the river fishing. I don’t know how many eagles I’ve seen sitting on tree just like that, or turtles climbing on trees, or frogs sitting on stumps. I live to create what I know.”


“Very few people know this, but the reason I like to do this more than anything is because this is my legacy,” Livingston said. “I never had any kids, and I’ve got nothing to leave behind that says I was here.

These carvings are my babies. People 200 years from now aren’t going to know me, but they’re going

to know I was here because they’ll have one of my carvings. And that makes me happy to know.”

“My work is finally getting to where I’m proud of it,” he says. “It took me a long time to get to the point where I’ll say, ‘I did that.’ But I’m there now.”

Yet despite his natural talent at creating the handsome handmade carvings that reflect the unique beauty of South Dakota wildlife – walleyes are a special favorite of his – Livingston admits he’s still not entirely comfortable with the artist moniker

“I think they’re becoming so desired because it’s a souvenir from South Dakota, and it’s something different,” Livingston says. “I’m the only one doing this with chalk rock, and there are very limited places you can get chalk rock. That’s why it’s so unique and special.”