Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Keith Phillips ~ Happy Accidents

The craftsmanship is what caught my eye, then the more I looked the more I was fascinated with Keith Phillips work. His pieces have an antique quality to them that intrigues me. I love the thought of having beautiful handmade functional art to use in our daily lives. It enriches and nurtures. I start my day by choosing which mug from my collection I will have my coffee in. I think I may need to get one of Keith Phillips.
Why clay?
I'm not exclusive to clay. I enjoy working in a variety of mediums, from textiles and quilts, to printmaking, to ceramics. They all have particular aspects that fascinates the maker in me. That being said, there is a certain obsession I have with working with clay, and it is a medium that satisfies in multiple ways. Throwing is very akin to meditation for me. I wish I didn't throw so fast because it's the part I enjoy the most, but seems to take the least time. Glazes and firing and experimentation satisfies the left side of my brain. Embellishing with decals satisfies the draughtsman in me. The fact that my pots are functional and used by their owners appeals to me in an emotional way. I love that pots function with food. I love working in series and seeing how it evolves over time. I love that it's 3 dimensional, love that it's real, I could go on.
If not for clay what would you be doing?
Tough question. I am not sure there is a medium that could replace what clay does for me. I'd probably be a selfish and depressed person with out it.
Do you listen to music when you work?
Yeah, it's a big part of my studio environment. I have an iPod, 75% of the time it on shuffle through the 4000 plus songs. I love music, all types. However I am in no way musically inclined, I can't keep a beat, I'm tone deaf, I can't even talk intelligently about music, but it moves me in ways the visual arts never will.
What motivates, inspires and brings you pleasure?.
Family, friends, life, sex, food, music, words, accidents, juxtaposition, function, food, fear, water, wind, weather, religion, the absurd, the logical, the familiar, the unfamiliar, the real, the spiritual, really good food, culture, evolution... actually thinking about all these things from the perspective of how they change over time inspires me. Fear is a great motivator for me... mainly the fear of not being able to pay the mortgage and support my family will really keep me motivated in the studio. Accidents are truly wonderful and I constantly try to create scenarios in my process where accidents can happy. It's not hard, the hard part is making them all happy accidents.
Who are your favorite artists and why?
My favorite artists tend change over time (as you can see I am pretty time dependent, and I am currently working on a time manufacturing device to help free me from this dependency), anyways,it depends on what I am personally working towards in my own work. Currently folk art, early american art, victorian designs, roccoco are all en vogue in my head right now.
Vermeer, Breughel, Hokusai and Barminski are staples.
Think I just became a big fan of Barminski, What would you say to someone just getting started in ceramics who asks you for advice?
Passion and enthusiasm for your ideas and the process of making those ideas into reality will trump skill and talent any day of the week. Focus on making your stuff, giving it everything you got. Then put it out there where as many people as possible can see it. The rest will take care of itself.
What is your feeling on the artist as activist, Artivism? and the “handmade” movement?
It's self serving at the moment, so I am a little biased in the "handmade" department. I do think there is immense value in handmade and I can't think of myself of doing anything except making stuff, mostly with my hands. So the fact that a handmade movement exists and helps support my family and me is great, and I'll enjoy it as long as it lasts. I do hope the handmade movement will help people think about and be more present in their buying decisions.
What’s your favorite cuss word?
I hate them all and use them all too frequently. I'd have to say the phrase "Shit fire and save matches" makes me laugh every time.
What’s your favorite quote?
Wow, you know, now that you ask the question, I cannot remember single quote, not one. I have the worst memory ever. If it wasn't for sketch books, I wouldn't remember any idea I ever had. Tell you what, I'll go to an old sketchbook from years ago, open it up and tell you the first "quote" I come to....
"Art is the process of getting from one place to another" Dunno who said it, but I wrote it down.
You may have noticed that Keith uses decals in his work. Here is a great link from Linda Arbuckle about making and using laser printed decals. You can also find posts by Keith on the subject on his blog MudStuffing Sketchbook, get yourself a cup of coffee and read a while, lots of good stuff. Be sure to visit his Etsy site and the Etsy for his embroidered work with his wife.
Thank you Keith!


Have You Signed The Petition?

For Secretary of the Arts & Culture? Do you think we need one? Quincy Jones is beind the movement to ask President Obama to appoint a cabinet level position of Secretary of the Arts. It is high time that we as a country promote the arts and realize the benefits of doing so to the United States citizens, just as many other countries in the world do.
Please take a moment to sign the petition.

Sign The Petition!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Color, Shape & Movement ~ Shoshona Snow

There are so many artists out there to be discovered. And just as many places to discover them. I am always looking around the internet for other ceramic artists but I think the first time that I saw Shoshona Snows work was after she commented on an interview here last year. I love her use of color and contrast, with as she says "a little humor and whimsy slipped in". You can find Shoshona's work on Etsy and find out a little about her on her blog.
Why clay?
Well, I was on my way to a BFA in metals when I took my fist clay class in college. “Goodbye” metal, “Hello” the rest of my life. I was love at first touch. The material was so much more forgiving and I simply enjoyed the sensory experience. When I took my fist ceramic materials class I was completely smitten. I love the chemistry behind working with clay. I love pushing the limits of the materials. I spent 10 years working on a body of work quite a bit different than my current work. Pushing those limits did unfortunately give me some hand and wrist issues and that lead to the work I do now.
If not for clay what would you be doing?
I would have gone into the science field. Something involving chemistry, which was always my favorite subject (next to art).
Do you listen to music when you work? What/who?
I listen to a lot of British invasion--The Kinks, The Who, The Zombies. I also listen to a lot of non-music, like NPR. Nothing gets me going like losing faith in humanity. I also listen to a lot of old time radio shows—science fiction, detective stories and horror.
What motivates, inspires and brings you pleasure?.
I surround myself with things I love. I come from a family of antique dealers and collectors. I grew up going to antique shows and being dragged to every antique shop and yard sale we passed. I didn’t really enjoy it so much as a child, going on family outings to historical places and not being able to sit or touch anything in our house, but that’s where my love of historical objects began. I’m fascinated by architecture, design, colors. I’m also inspired by use. A cup, a bowl, a vase; these things all have a function. When I make functional work (or work that implies function) I want the user to have a more enhanced experience. I also simply want to make something beautiful. Other non-clay things that make me happy are good books, old movies, knitting and sewing, gardening, baking and cooking, snuggling with my dog (Dudley the Boston terrier) and going to see my husband play drums.
Who are your favorite artists and why?
Alexander Calder is my all-time favorite. His work is timeless. It seems to have life and vitality beneath it. The colors, the shapes, the movement. He was always working and in so many different mediums- sculpture, print, fiber, jewelry- his whole house was filled with things he wanted to improve or make more beautiful. I worked at a pharmacy in Connecticut years ago near where he used to live. They had old envelopes that he covered in drawings from when he sent in his bills. Favorite ceramic artists and designers include Ron Nagel, Leopold Foulem, Adelaide Robineau, Eva Zeisel and Josiah Wedgwood.
What’s your favorite cuss word?
Ah, getting all actor’s studio on me… I’d have to say the F-bomb. I have a mouth like a sailor.
What would you say to someone just getting started in ceramics who asks you for advice?
First off, be kind to your body! This is a very physical medium.
I would also say that if you are serious about making this a career, going to school is very important. Not just workshops, but college. Besides learning and refining technique, learning to be critical of your work is vital. You’ll also save yourself years of trial and error with materials, equipment and kilns.
What is your feeling on the artist as activist, Artivism? and the “handmade” movement?
I personally don’t deal with the political side of art…other than how the economy affects people buying art. The handmade movement is something I am more connected to. I believe quite strongly in buying handmade. I am quite a crafty lady and can make a lot of things myself, but when I can’t (or don’t have the tools) I look to people who can. I can’t expect anyone to support my work if I don’t support other makers.
Your work has a whimsical, retro quality. It reminds me of ceramics from the fifties that you find in thrift and antique stores with the arching birds necks etc. Is this a style you developed or just happens that way?
It really just kind of happened that way. Like I mentioned before, my exposure to antiques at an early age was important. I do collect mid-century clothing, furniture and decorative items, so I guess it was only natural that it started to seep into my work. Sculptural representation of animals can be found in pretty much every culture throughout history. I look at objects from all time periods and all areas of the world…I’m just making a modern representation of these objects, making them my own. And if a little whimsy or humor seeps in also, well, that’s part of me too.
What is the secret to your success? How have you gotten into so many galleries?
I make a lot of work and I don’t take breaks. I post new work on my online shop, my blog and my Flickr 2-3 times a week, more if I can. Actually, I haven’t had to contact one single shop or gallery ever; they’ve all found me online. I’ve also gotten great press from blogs and magazines that have found me.
What’s your favorite quote?
I don’t really have one. I’m not much for quotes. How about this one?
You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. ~Winston Churchill I’m also partial to this one…
Women should be obscene and not heard. ~Groucho Marx Thank you Shoshona!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ricky Maldonado

So here we are almost a month and a half into the new year, I have been focusing my attention on other projects and have neglected SoCalPotters. But I am pleased to have as my first interview of 2009 one of my personal favorites; Ricky Maldonado. Ricky's work is in collections all over the planet and can be found in numerous publications. I first saw his work in person at the Armstrong Gallery in Pomona California and was in awe, I couldnt stop staring at it, amazed at the detail. His creativity is amazing and each piece that I have seen and been able to examine left me inspired. If you ever have the chance to see his work in person do yourself a favor and go.
Why clay?
Clay was my friend when I needed it. We now work well together. I love the feel, smell and challenge it offers me.
If not clay, what?
What inspires you?
For the most part nature inspires me. Then there is Architecture, but unfortunately there is not a kiln that I own or is built big enough, so I dwarf my inspirations of Architecture. There is also the human body that I'm experimenting with.
Who are your favorite artists and why?
Dali and Picasso. Their work seems to be about dreams for me. I often create from my dreams. I am a people person and when I see artists of all media creating it makes me happy to be on this earth.
The first time I saw your work I was drawn to it. Then as I got close and examined it I was in awe! I have heard that you get “two dots per dip”, but can you tell me about your style/technique and how you developed it?
I get one to 3 drops with the brush. I am experimenting with squeeze bottles and hope it helps to make my work go faster. For the most part my pieces are coiled, I sometimes throw small pieces to help fill up a show. I prefer coiling and hand building. The style is everything that has led me to what I'm doing now. So you could say that it's Ricky Maldonado style. 19 years of experimenting, classes, work shops and taking on challenges from both my friends and myself, have developed my skills.
I have always been curious what happens if you get to the point that you are almost done and you have a mishap and smear a whole area, do you scrap the piece and start over?
When I started the detailed work I used to sand it all off and start all over again. Boy did I make some big mistakes. But as years past I learned how to fix problems with slipping and glazing. If it turns out bad because I used the wrong color glaze I scrap it or give it to one of my friends or relatives.
What would you say to someone just getting started in ceramics who asks you for advice?
I tell them to listen to their teachers and do what ever it is they require of them. It will always come back to help you if you take it to a professional level.
What do you think of the handmade movement and the artist as activist, or artivism?
I really don't like getting into politics with my work. I will march or rally when I feel my rights as an artist and teacher are being taken away.
Whats your favorite quote?
" if you set out to make a beautiful piece of work and when it's finished and you think that it's beautiful from what you have learned, then you succeeded" Ralph Bacerra
Whats your favorite cuss word?
I like to swear so I say all of them.
I have heard in the past about a project you have been working on then got an invitation to join the FaceBook group for your Clay School, whats it all about?
The Clay school is dream of mine to bring all my clay friends into school and teach there methods and techniques to students of all ages. The comradery of clay artists/teachers is a fulfilling experience for anyone, even if clay does not become their chosen field. I think it helps to build character. It was planned 3 years ago and I didn't know we got our status (501c3) until recently. So I decided to reinstate it and start over one step at a time. It will work itself out. All I know is that there are friends/people willing to help unconditionally with the raising of money for the school. It will be located in Southern California. We will have an annual competition as well as student sales and hopefully a gallery and space for large work shops.
In looking at images to use I was thinking that there is an Aboriginal element to his work, I should have asked him about that!
I want to thank Ricky Maldonado for answering my questions. I have been pestering him for sometime; So thank you Ricky!