Brandon “Fuzzy” Schwartz isn’t some crazy famous international artist. He’s just a ceramics enthusiast who runs a blog (artbyfuzzy.com). In my recently discovered liking of glazing, I’ve been looking for some experimental glazing techniques to inspire me and push me to try new things. I not only enjoy his work because he actually gives recipes and steps to get the finishes he gets, but he has one recent post about “directional” glazing. He lays the pots on their sides or upside down and uses something called “runny” glazes, which I just assume are more watery glazes. They employ gravity to create interesting textures and also pieces that have a “lift” to them, such as that cup upside down. Imagine it right side up with the glaze travelling upward.
I conducted an interview with Dave Hill who visited the class earlier this year. He graciously answered questions for almost 2 hours, and besides the things that he already discussed talking about during his seminar visit, I got to press a lot deeper into the philosophy of his work as well as how working in the field actually is/how to get to be working with the people he’s working with.
Work wise, it’s a very “be-your-own-man” kind of job as far as work hours go, only given that you’ll be presenting excellent work by the due date. For those starting off in the field of apparel design, Dave encourages us that it’s slow initially but requires putting yourself out there a lot through various means (crowd sourcing, creative agencies, but primarily internships). Although its very varied and at times a bit worrisome to work freelance, he said that it’s been a fairly rewarding job because of his great work keeping customers coming back, but he also encourages us to establish “retainers” whenever you can (basically a contract that sets an amount of pay for an amount of time and an amount of work). He laid out the positives and negatives for both doing freelance and working at a hired position in a very practical and helpful manner and basically just said to get whatever jobs we could get.
Inspiration doesn’t get to play too much of a role in his work just due to the fact that the clients ultimately dictate what kind of work is produced, but when he does get the chance to flex his creative muscles, he gets inspiration from almost anywhere. From contemporary art to designers who are flourishing in the design world, to even ancient paintings and even performance pieces and installations, he encourages to look for the things that are timeless. “Trends are fleeting, style is forever.”
His line of work is almost exactly in what I’m interested in, so I benefited greatly from this interview. From all the practical advice and warnings to even chit chatting about his thoughts on the current trends of urban fashion, it was delightfully informative and loaded. He was gracious enough to send us information on internships in the future and even offered services such as critiquing portfolios and even inviting us to hang out and watch him work. I’m looking forward to taking him up on all his offers, but also ruminating on the things he said in regards to the hard work necessary to get yourself out there and start networking for future jobs but especially what he said about the working life. He warned that sometimes working freelance and working in solitary leads some people to depression. He encouraged being tight knit with a community and to spend a good chunk of your day NOT simply glued to your computer screen. He personally does his days work in two shifts during the weekdays. Not something usually talked about. Super helpful interview.
Ask me for a link to the videos we shot. It’s almost an hour and forty five minutes worth of good stuff.
Grayson Perry is a very interesting artist. His work deals with a lot with cultural criticism and themes of sexuality; he is a cross-dresser who occasionally appears in public as his female alter-ego, “Claire.” Amidst the paintings, quilts, and the sculptures, his pots are incredibly fascinating. They differ incredibly in terms of style, they all employ meticulous, changing, and very varied forms of treatment and glazing ranging from gold leaf to painting to even photo transfer.
Roy Lichtenstein is a very large influence to me as an artist. This New York based artist is largely tied with the Pop Art movement in the 1960s, being one of the greatest pioneers of the style. He is most popularly remembered for recreating comic book panels and painting them with oil on large canvases. These images were taken from popular smut comics and valiant war comics at the time that were produced and consumed en masse by the public. Lichtenstein reappropriated these comic book panels as a means to criticize contemporary culture at the time. The depictions of intensely emotionally driven women and macho action war men were to show the futile and aimless wishes and ways of thinking of the people at the time; the paintings were a mirror in a sense. The iconic painting style of the thick, even brush work and the half-tone benday dots were to poke fun at the industrial revolution at the time by taking a process that was meant for mass, mass production and doing it by hand. The reason he affects me so much is for two main reasons. Number one, Lichtenstein created an aesthetic that is entirely his own. Any style of art that has that posterized feeling with the simple, bold color blocking, the thick linework, and the benday dot pattern is undoubtedly Lichtenstein-influenced. But not only did the aesthetic serve a purpose in relating to the content, it’s also incredibly visually appealing. It’s simple while been intricate and detailed. The tiny dots that comprise these color fields invite viewers to come in and stare deeper and longer. In today’s visual culture, creating a signature aesthetic is extremely difficult, but it’s also very desired. Advertisements by larger corporations are often instantly recognizable because of an overall color scheme or composition or font. Popular branding is often used as a source for parody work because it’s so easily recognized. I hope to one day be able to create an aesthetic that is not just my own, but its own identity. I also greatly appreciate Lichtenstein because he’s a master of intelligently twisting culture and putting it in his artwork. He’s very, very culturally aware; he doesn’t just do paintings of comic books, he’s also made Chinese-style landscape paintings with his signature style and he’s also “parodied” important modernist painters showing that he knows his history. But I’m also thinking there’s interpretive meaning in his paintings that isn’t intended to stay within itself. I think there’s something in his paintings that is a sort of call to action. I think some of his pieces, much like Warhol’s, show just how ridiculous American idolatry was at the time. I also want to be able to create art that in its form and meaning call people to change and live richer, more meaningful lives.
I went to the LACMA this past weekend with my Global Art Paradigms class to visit some of the Asian art exhibitions. To my surprise and absolute delight, there is a Japanese art pavilion at the furthest end of the LCMA that I had absolutely no idea about. I’m a total sucker for the Japanese aesthetic; it’s simple yet boldly intentional, careful yet very vibrant. The architecture of the pavilion itself was intentionally designed in line with Japanese aesthetic principles; It’s natural, unobtrusive against the garden behind it. Like ancient Japanese temples before it, it’s meant to pay respects to the natural spirits in the area around it by blending in. The lighting is diffused by paper windows to allow a natural, gentle spread throughout the pavilion. Inside the exhibit, there are all kinds of objects that show incredible craftsmanship. There was an entire exhibit dedicated to Netsuke, which were tiny ornamental craft objects that were meant to be accessorized with kimonos and kimonos didn’t have any pockets. They were all less than 2 inches tall, most of them being less than one inch tall. But the detail done on them were unbelievable; many of them were figures engaging in some folklore tale such as an intricate sculpture of a spirit to even a battle between two warriors. There were also one of my favorite forms of art, Japanese woodblock prints. The color blocking, the gentle application of those colors, the variations of lines from thick, expressive ones to unbelievably light, airy ones, the expressive characters, the woodblock prints were absolutely amazing. But in all honesty, the part of the exhibition I enjoyed the most was a temporary exhibit that was displayed throughout the winding ramps in the center of the building; it was called “Kimono for a Modern Age.” There were a bunch of kimono robes that were made during the 1930s and on after European fabric production methods were brought over. These patterns are vibrant, calming, dazzling, serene, intricate, simple; the entire possible spectrum of design was showcased but it was all visually exciting. But it wasn’t just visually appealing; the thing I love about Japanese art in general is their intense love and desire to preserve and uphold their culture. Tons of the kimonos had patterns related to Japanese cultural icons; waves, dragonflies, temples, rising sun motifs. But they also had reappropriated important worldwide cultural phenomenon as well; many of them had patterns very visually similar to artists in abstract expressionist exhibits; eerily similar to the likes of Frank Stella, Jackon Pollock, Morris Louis. One even had a print of penguins and an icebreaker boat trekking through icy waters in honor of an important arctic expedition. I really was dazzle but not just making garments of cultural significance, but also making them extremely visually stimulating.
These sample/custom “China” Foamposite 1s hit the internet not too long ago, and being in Ceramics 1, I was really turned onto these. When the Lebron 11 Low “China Vase” actually released to the public, I wondered what a google image search of “ceramic shoes” would return back. I was actually thoroughly surprised. I not only found interesting sculptures, but also sculptures that spoke to sneaker culture in a meaningful way as well.
Kang Seung Lee and Jon Lawrence both plaster cast their own sneakers to create these sculptures. Ceramic materials can be treated in a myriad of ways to resemble textures such as leather, mesh, and when glazed can have an uncanny resemblance to patent leather. The materials are carefully considered too; Jon Lawrence’s New Balance 577 are actually made from clay mined very close by to the official New Balance factory. Not only do these shoes have an eternal “fresh” look, they also say something about the permanence and craft of sneaker culture in general. They become something beyond icons and even beyond clothing.
From his own artist statement:
"Paul Scott, from the UK, is a conceptual artist, noted porcelain upcycler and known for his research into ceramics and print. He creates individual pieces that blur the boundaries between fine art, craft and design. With a penchant for rescuing cast offs, he fondly gives them new life, even highlighting their worn edges, chips, cracks and flaws, by using them as a canvas for biting social commentary."
What I appreciate is his use of the materials. Mixing in nature themes with these created ceramic pieces. Even using bone china to make cows & grass fields. His touch and mark making is incredible and I love how he takes this very traditional blue on white ceramics approach and makes it modern and contemplative.
Jo Woffinden works with a plethora of materials - plaster, concrete, even bone china - to create these… bowls? There’s really no other word I can use to label these. The elements make up sort of a bowl, but the structured displacement sort of makes them look like a glitch. Something that would have otherwise been organic, smooth, round, but has been hiccuped by her design process. They’re unnatural yet natural, imbalanced yet balanced, off-putting yet beautiful.