Briefly describe the work you do.
I create hand-built and thrown porcelain vessels. My work aims to inform an audience that is interested in the homemade and how handmade tableware can enrich the home. I envision my pieces making every dining opportunity a celebratory and uniquely appetizing experience.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
As a child, I would sketch images from books, spend endless hours cross stitching images of pigs, or take photos of seagulls down by the sea, while my friends were playing with Barbies or later on, make-up and boys..I have always been drawn to 2D art, but it wasn’t until after high school, when I took a throwing class at a local studio that I fell in love with clay. I admit that part of the reason I actively pursued and fought for clay was my competitive nature. Everyone in the class was advancing during the year, while I was still making thick ash trays and pots for pencils. Centering was my enemy. Despite the challenge, clay won me over and quickly lured me in with its unique canvas for my drawings and the endless possibilities it presented. I loved the idea of filling my friends’ and families’ cupboards and tables with my pottery, which I continue to do. After a couple years of having a space at this studio and taking classes at a community college, I transferred to the Appalachian Center for Craft and studied with incredibly knowledgeable professors and artists in residences who continue to encourage me to try new approaches in clay and experiment with all it has to offer.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
Being the type of artist that relies on a space that is well equipped with kilns, wheels, and slab rollers, I have learned to adapt to being in all different types of studios that give me the opportunity to make. In undergrad, I had a large and beautiful study overlooking an expansive lake, yet I took this for granted. I often fantasize about this far off land of sinks, tables and ceiling high shelving. Today, I have a smaller space, but it teaches me to let go of work and move on towards bigger and better horizons. As always, a long day in the studio always involves countless cups of coffee and a good audiobook to keep my energy levels up.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I always knew you could be famous and have this brilliant career as an actor, a writer, or a musician but it took me a while to realize that you can also have the same fame and make a career out of being a visual artist. I guess I thought that visual art was on the sideline to other chosen paths and artists who found fame didn’t find it until they were dead, when strangers were scavenging through their homes and finding cut off ears and pretty great paintings. Being an artist is a lifelong career and lesson, it gives you this position of being a unique and integral part of the growth and wellbeing of a community. Being an artist, has given me endless opportunities to help people and places succeed and gives me a wealth of knowledge and problem solving skills that I could never have imagined receiving and couldn’t imagine receiving from anything else. I always tell my students that if you really want to succeed as an artist you need that drive and passion to keep you on your toes and to have the motivation to put in the hours to stand out. I remind them that talent plays little or no role in success, which is something I have to remind myself of every day.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I find that the morning is the best time to make work. It’s the best feeling to have accomplished something before noon, while others are still deep in slumber after late-nights in the studio. I love leaving the studio at a descent hour, and be able to make a nice dinner and bump in to the night-goers as they begin their routine. Don’t get me wrong, I will stay through the night if need be, but I do get a little scared of the dark and the monsters that lurk in studio corners. When I’m not in school or teaching, I try to make it to the studio every day. If I can’t make it there, I am scheming in my sketchbook and researching. I’m currently working on trying to schedule my studio time as well as some relaxation, cooking, and drinking of wine, time.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
My approach to clay has gotten a little looser and more experimental in the last few years. My earlier work was thrown tighter and was heavily influenced by Royal Doulton and Royal Albert China. I am currently interested in designing and executing tableware that best illuminates food and remains practical but also playful.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
The structure of my family is built on meals and countless cups of tea, so creating vessels that could be used in the home of another family, similar to my own, gives me the drive and passion to continue to make functional ceramics. I am inspired by the feedback from family and friends while they are eating a meal utilizing my dishes. My Welsh and English Grandmother have had a huge impact on my work ethic and ideas on. Thinking back to my childhood, I can’t imagine them without something in their hands, whether it was a paint brush, an embroidery needle, a whisk or rack of lamb. This handmade and homemade sensibility is represented in all aspects of my life.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
This is the question that keeps me up at night. I get frustrated that I can’t have a career and succeed in many kinds of various occupations. As a child, I fantasized about being a window cleaner (to be able to snoop in people’s houses while they were at work and to get to use that squeegee!) or being a cashier at a supermarket (I thought they were the luckiest people in the world to be able to do the magical, “beep!” “beep!” every day). It’s safe to say that unlike most parents, when I decided to go to college to pursue a career in ceramics, they were quite relieved. These days, I spend more of my energy day dreaming of being a brain surgeon or a lawyer (blame Greys Anatomy and Scandal) or being a Yogi Master or a world renowned chef. You could say I have a desire for fame. I better get to cleaning those windows!
Jodie Masterman is a ceramic artist, born in Swansea, Wales who moved to Knoxville, TN during High School. Jodie holds a BFA from the Appalachian Center for Craft, in Smithville TN. After receiving her BFA, Jodie spent a summer as an apprentice potter at Leach Pottery in St. Ives and later returned to the US to pursue her licensure in K-12 Art Education. Jodie is currently at the University of Florida as a Post- Baccalaureate Student.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.