Today we’d like to introduce you to Phillip Finder.
Hi Phillip, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
My path as an artist started with parents who acknowledged and encouraged the development of basic skills and artistic play. While they wouldn’t consider themselves artists, they are certainly folks always working around the home, fixing and building this and that. After high school, I moved to Detroit to study industrial design, a program combining fine art skillsets with engineering and aesthetic considerations. I shifted gears, though, and eventually earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Florida with an emphasis in Ceramics. There, I was exposed to the impressive ceramic pottery of Stephen Heywood, my professor, and mentor. I was seeing his technically proficient work shifted my perspective on what was possible with clay. He encouraged me to apply to graduate programs for clay, and in 2010 I was accepted into the three-year intensive program at SIU Edwardsville. These three years were formative as an artist, as I had little distractions and lived and worked in an art bubble, culturally speaking. In 2013 I earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Ceramics, which gave me the credentials to teach at the university level, and I have been teaching and doing work at my home studio ever since.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a smooth road?
Ceramic is permanent, and I am responsible for making something worth living on in someone’s collection or daily use. There have been countless challenges along the way, and they continue to this day for me. I find it challenging to just put yourself out there and keep up with social media. I constantly re-evaluate the merit of the objects I’m making, critique the work and try to assess where it fits into the cultural fabric of the local community beyond ceramics is also technically challenging when trying to push your boundaries. It is likely to have some failures in the firing or even when the work is drying. These examples are probably typical of most artists in any medium – it’s all a struggle but very rewarding when you can push through it.
As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about what you do?
My work in clay ranges from decorative vessels to functional tableware and some purely sculptural objects. People who know me well probably think of me as someone who is detail oriented, particular, and is always making something. These qualities certainly trickle down into my ceramics and are expressed in the way of simple and refined form, earthen color tones, and objects that celebrate the act of making them. This last bit, the act of making them, is my way of decorating. I skip traditional modes of decoration and instead rely on moments within the process to give interest. This includes scratch marks from scraping the clay, textures left from applying slip drips from surface materials, and finger marks that might give the shapes subtle inconsistencies if thrown on the potter’s wheel. Deciding to leave these process elements is balanced with an overall interest in a simple design influenced by modernism and classicism. If none of that made sense, I’d say people who recognize my work might characterize it as a contemporary artifact, unearthed from the ground, looking both rustic and modern.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
You can find my work locally at Urban Matter on South Grand. Mary and Amy, who run the shop, are my biggest supporters.
- Mugs $35-50
- Vases $55 and up
- Decorative Bowls $55 and up
- Website: www.phillipfinder.com
- Instagram: @phillip_finder
All photos by Phillip Finder.