• UO Studio Visits: Brian Giniewski

    We visit Philadelphia-based ceramicist Brian Giniewski to find out more about his path as an artist and how his signature drippy pots came to be.
    Photos by CJ Harvey

    Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started in ceramics.
    I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, a few hours outside of Philadelphia. I didn’t have a lot of exposure to art as a kid, and I never really considered it to be something that I had any talent in. I got really interested in playing the guitar and drums in high school, and a bunch of the guys I would play with were getting pretty good at throwing pots in Ceramics class. I went along with it at first as a social activity, but I quickly got really serious about trying to build my skills. It was one of the first times that I had a profound experience with visual art. 

    High school was not a good time for me, but the ceramics teacher at my high school set up the studio as a safe, no-intimidation space for students to work and explore. She was really supportive, and I loved the challenge of throwing on the wheel. While it was frustrating at first, it is a process that rewards repetition and it's very easy to see your own growth and development as you build your skills. After falling in love with ceramics in high school, I chose to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics at Millersville University in Lancaster, PA. I later went on to study at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI and received my Masters of Fine Arts in 2009. 

    How were your signature “drippy pots” born? 
    The first embryonic prototypes of the drippy pots were these heavily textured and saturated vases from 2009 that I finished by pouring tons of acrylic paint, medium and aggregate on, building up layers of really intense color. I didn’t know exactly what I was doing at the time, but looking back now I can see that I was turning to the purity of those pigments because I couldn’t find the same type of consistency and saturation in the traditional ceramic glazes that I encountered. 

    In 2012 I really started testing a lot of glazes and pigments to develop the palette I’m working with now. I always want them to look delicious. I am really trying to exploit the fluid nature of glaze as it melts in the kiln. On the drippy pieces, the whole thing is about that moment where the really juicy, gooey drip transitions to the really rough, gritty ceramic surface. I love looking back at the pictures of the old work and seeing how much information was already there that continues to inform the current work.

    About how long does it take to make each piece?
    From start to finish, it takes about 4 weeks for a piece to transform from raw clay to a finished drippy pot. Each piece gets handled so many different times throughout the process. From the initial making, to clean-up, multiple firings, washing, lots of glaze application, etc, there are tons of steps. At any given point, I might have 300 pieces hanging out in the studio at all different points of completion. I love bouncing around from task to task to keep my mind fresh. There’s never any excuse for being bored here.

    One more piece of info about yourself that you’d like people to know!
    We like to make things that are accessible, optimistic, and have a sense of humor. We love seeing where they end up in people’s lives, so take a picture of your drippy pot and tag us on Instagram (@brianginiewski)!

    Shop Brian Giniewski's Work