Featured Ceramic Artist
10 Questions for Nick DeVries
10 Questions for Nick DeVries
What was the impetus for becoming a ceramic artist?
I was interested in visual arts from a young age. I was introduced to some simple drawing techniques in first grade and I’ve basically kept a pencil and sketchbook with me at all times since. I took a pottery class my final quarter of my senior year in High School, and I was hooked from day one, the rest, as they say, is history.
What inspires your forms and surfaces?
My inspirations stem from a mix of Bauhaus design sensibilities, architecture and other created objects as well as colors and surfaces found in the natural world. I enjoy contrasting architectural forms with surfaces that found in nature.
Who are your favorite artists?
I studied painting and ceramics in college and early on I was interested in the Vienna Secession Movement and the work of Egon Schiele, a protégé of Gustav Klimt. I was drawn to the strong line quality of Schiele’s drawings and paintings. Michael Simon and Sequoia Miller are two ceramic artists that caught my eye early on in my ceramic career. Their sense of form, line, and surfaces struck a cord that resonates to this day.
How did your current aesthetic style come to be?
My current body of work flowed from an interest in altering pots. Early on I began faceting pots and while I liked the results, I did not care for the process of cutting into pots with wires and knives. I was also aware that those early pots resembled other altered and faceted pots quite directly. I picked up a Surform rasp one day. Shaving away the surfaces of the work was much more enjoyable and also more controlled, and I fell in love with that process almost immediately. Once my work came to present an architectural aesthetic I began to add additional details that would play on those visual themes.
What is your favorite form to make?
I love to make pitchers. I enjoy the many options this form offers: creamers, mixing bowls with spouts, or tall proud water pitchers. I have always appreciated the challenge of making all of the elements of a pitcher work in concert together.
What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
Make a ton of pots, and then make more, and when you are finished making those, make some more. All the while you are making those pots challenge yourself to make better ones, and when you think you’ve made some good pots, make more pots and make those ones better. Seek out and curate a visual vocabulary for yourself; mostly look at other things besides pots for inspiration and influence (drawings, baskets, hand forged tools, paintings, sculpture, fossils, old book jackets, textiles, worn surfaces, dried leaves . . .). Figure out a way to work your interests into your pots. Then make more pots, lots of them.
Do you have other creative outlets/practices?
I draw and sketch. I don’t use my sketches as blueprints for pots; rather, the sketchbook for me is a place to ruminate on pots and ideas, a place to work visually, away from the potter’s wheel.
If you weren’t an artist, what would your dream job be?
Any job that would get me out in the woods as much as possible. Professional Hiker? Snowshoeing Guide?
Any favorite meal/food?
What has been your most memorable trip/vacation/residency?
After college I travelled to Vienna and Prague, where I was able to see the works of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, (among other Secession artists). Seeing Klimts’ Beethoven Fieze in person was remarkable and having a chance to see Shiele’s drawings in person was phenomenal.