• UO Studio Visits: Ian Anderson Ceramics

    We are continually inspired by the talented artists and designers who are part of the Philadelphia team at UO HQ. One such example is Ian Anderson — a men's buyer by day and ceramicist by night, Ian's pieces are dually functional as both usable tabletop wares and compact works of art, with his signature style distorting traditional shapes by adding sharp angles, stacked shapes, and implied geometric subtleties. 

    To learn more about his process, inspiration, and ceramics — which can now be found at Space Ninety 8 in Williamsburg — we stopped by to see his works-in-progress at The Clay Studio in Philadelphia. 
    Photos by Michael A. Muller

    How did you get started doing ceramics? 

    I took three ceramics classes in high school and was able to mess with it in college at this little co-op we had in Santa Cruz. I'm now working out of The Clay Studio here in Philly. There's something to me that's so gratifying about making a tangible and useful thing. I think thats why I never took any other kinds of art classes. 

    How do you describe your work?

    I think the technical term is "Design-y." But more seriously I'm just trying to challenge the kinds of utilitarian forms we are comfortable with using everyday. What I'm working on now takes some pretty standard forms and deconstructs or warps them. In some ways it's literally pointing out that this form is not what you're used to, but it still works just fine. 

    What is the hardest part about your process? What is the easiest part?

    The whole process I'm using now was a huge learning curve for me and it's pretty far removed from what I had learned in the past. Really, the only way to get the look that I want is to go through a process called slip-casting. The most enjoyable part of the process is making the original prototype out of clay. That’s where I can mess around with all of the design elements. 

    The next part is THE WORST in my opinion, which is making the plaster mold. Plaster is such a nasty material that sticks to everything and hardens so fast. Setup and clean up for that part is a huge undertaking, especially for the 25 or so pieces I have on my website right now. The rest of the process is pretty straight forward and involves casting each piece with liquid clay and glazing.

    What's something you've always wanted to make but, for whatever reason, have not?

    Humans! I've always wanted to sculpt faces and hands but for some reason haven't gotten to it. Maybe I'm afraid what I make will freak me out. 

    Do you listen to music while you work? 

    Of course! Yesterday I was listening to screamo from high school, last week it was a bunch of grunge bands, the week before that is was jazz, and the week before that it was super trendy blog music. I don't know. I'm all over the place. 

    What other ceramicists or artists do you look up to or admire? 

    Everyone in the ceramic community is going to roll their eyes, but I've always been crazy about Ken Price. I really can't explain what it is, but his pieces are SO visually appealing. I especially like that he will sometimes add utilitarian aspects to his sculptural pieces.

    Tell us something we do not know about ceramics.

    Most of the ceramic things you use every day had to be heated up to around 2200 degrees to look the way they to. My friend told me the other day that he knew someone in the ceramic industry that could heat a piece to that temp and cool it within 30 minutes. INSANE.

    Find more of Ian's work on his website, or in-store at Space Ninety 8.