• Artist Editions: Dean Roper

    Designed exclusively for Urban Outfitters, Artist Editions is an ongoing series of limited, original designs from some of our favorite new artists.
    Brooklyn-based designer Dean Roper creates objects for the “betterment" of daily life, taking inspiration from junk food, pop culture, memes, head shops, outsider art, sports, fashion and growing up. Scroll on to read more!
    Photos by Heidi Lee
    Can you introduce yourself — tell us more about who you are, where you’re from, and what you do? 
    Dean Roper- Designer, b. 1990 in St. Louis, MO 

    How did you first get into creating ceramics + objects? 
    I took an art class in high school making stuff with clay. I was a shithead stoner/semi-jock in high school and was thinking of it as a blow off class but actually got really into it. After that I was hooked- and all my friends made fun of me for making pottery. Now I embody that same shithead kid while I’m making sports art and ironic stoner art which is really funny to me. Some people REALLY hate it! I love it.
    Tell us more about your studio! Can you walk us through a typical day in the life? 
    My studio is everywhere. In multiple ceramics studios, my Backyard, in my kitchen, in my car. I’ve always had a personal studio space but the last couple years I haven’t had one. Hand building stuff watching bad TV, casting out of the trunk of my Jeep, glazing in my Brooklyn backyard, firing all over the city. It’s been a real challenge, but I’ve definitely made the best of it. 

    What’s been inspiring you lately?
    I always say this but life, death, rap music, being a cool designer, kissing, cuddling, being happy, feeling dumb and other feelings, the 90s, junk food, popular culture, drugs, memes, novelty bongs at head shops, Law & Order SVU, naive outsider art, people watching, music, sports, fashion, and growing up! 

    How did your style evolve to what it is today?
    I was trained to make extremely precise vessels in college and it became really boring and sterile after a while. It became disingenuous, tiresome. I wanted something that provoked a feeling of innocence. Like naïve folk art, or a children’s drawing or pinch pot. I started making weird objects, mostly objects that are disapproved in institutionalized ceramics. Mixed the two and you get some really weird stuff haha. This was the start of making bongs. Some worked, some didn’t. Most didn’t. I liked that. 
    What’s the most important thing to you when creating a product? 
    It’s hard to intentionally make something that looks unintentionally naïve and like it was made by a 3rd grader and be well crafted. I think the one thing for me is finding a good middle ground. Good craft with a lot of pinchy stuff.

    Who are some other artists (in any medium) who you look up to? 
    Lastly, what’s a dream project/ collaboration for you? 
    NIKE shoe hands down. 
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