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4401 N Ravenswood
Chicago, IL 60640

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Featured Ceramic Artist: Nolan Baumgartner

CLICK HERE - 10 Questions for Nolan Baumgartner

10 Questions for Nolan Baumgartner

*PRODUCTS are at the bottom of this page

What was the impetus for becoming a ceramic artist?
I don’t know if it’s too basic, but I really just like making things…I like it when people use the things that I make…I like using things other people have made by hand. I’ve never been the best at conversations and schmoozing. I like the idea that the object that I made can speak for me.

What inspires your forms and surfaces?
I have always been interested in Asian and Middle Eastern ceramics and design…the proportions and volume are really nice. I like the way the decorations (when used) respond to the surface. On a more basic level, just simple harmonic proportions (based on the golden ratio) and the math related to that.

Who are your favorite artists?
Oh man. Ceramic artists. Hmm. Peter Christian Johnson’s work is extremely satisfying. Insane architectural/geometric work with goopy glaze on it…that is like heaven for me. Functional artists…Lorna Meaden (I consciously try not to look at her work though), Josh DeWeese too. I am a bit out of the loop as far as non-ceramic artists go…back in the day I was really into Maurizio Cattelan because of how naughty he is. I’m also really into the really monumental stuff like Serra and Smithson.

How did your current aesthetic style come to be?
It was really an evolution of a number of factors…I was getting bored with just plain atmospheric surfaces, and I knew I needed to step up my game. I had this bottle of underglaze in my studio, and decided to go for it. The patterns started out pretty simple, just stripes and polka dots, and they gradually morphed into ellipses. It was all sort of free-hand drawn, and the imprecision drove me crazy, so I started measuring and mapping everything out…like cylindrical graph paper. And here I am! It’s tedious, but I’m much happier with the results.

What is your favorite form to make?
I really like making pitchers. With the altered lip and spout, they have a really nice posture and flow.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Keep making things. Every day, if you can. Teach people how to make things–there is no faster way to really learn than putting what you think you know into words. Learn from what you make, either by using your work or from the “mistakes” made along the way.

Do you have other creative outlets/practices?
Haha not right now. It’s not that creative, but I’m hoping to get back on my bike when it warms up a little more.

If you weren’t an artist, what would your dream job be?
Some sort of a scientist probably…one that works with actual stuff…like a materials scientist, chemist, or geologist. Being a geologist would have lots of travel benefits–that’s pretty appealing.

Any favorite meal/food?
Mexican food. All of it.

What’s your spirit animal OR if you were an animal, what would you be?
I asked the internet about this one haha. It said I am a deer, and their explanation made sense to me. If I were to choose, it would be an owl.

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