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!



Linda Starr said...

Beautiful pots, love that turquoise glaze of Keith's, nice post Chris.

Chris McCormick said...

I know, those cups at the bottom are beautiful!
Thanks Linda!

Annie Chrietzberg said...

Keith Phillips is a rock star of clayland! Great interview!

Studio√ČLAN said...

Great interview -I was already a Keith fan -but now even more...