Allow me to introduce Adam Gruetzmacher, a potter living and working in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Greutzmacher is Cfile’s Pop-Up Shop resident for March. We adore his sturdy, angular forms, simple white slip and the bits of naked red clay that leave the rest to be desired. The artist is interested in exploring the intersection of historical hand-making traditions and the aesthetic of utility. Handles are pulled by hand or are wire-cut from a wedge-shaped slab of clay, and the patterns you see on his work are applied using masking tape. He takes pride in making every-day objects that work well and are crafted with care and consideration. Don’t sleep on the opportunity to own one of his mugs or vases!
I got a chance to talk with Gruetzmacher about his city of Saint Paul and his artistic process. Check it out below.
Cfile: Where do you typically sell work? Any marketing tips for potters?
Adam: I’m currently selling work primarily through clay and craft galleries, along with a couple of retail shops who buy work wholesale. I also sell through a farmer’s market in Minneapolis during the summer in order to develop a local presence. Marketing is a challenge for me and is an area that I need to improve on. I started an Instagram account a couple of years ago and have found that to be an easy way to keep my ideas time stamped and current for those who care to follow my work. I mostly focus on visual branding—being mindful of the aesthetic I wish to foster as well as my values as a craftsperson, and then trying to communicate those ideas with some level of consistency. Ayumi Horie has been a marketing hero of mine for many years and I try to look into other craft mediums to see what people are doing to be successful.
C: Do you consider how something will appear on social media when you are formulating a new design? In other words, is marketing online a part of your creative process?
A: My biggest concern when designing something new is how well it will function. Social media for me is mostly a way to present these ideas in a space that I see them existing in.
C: What led you to clay? Did you make work in other mediums before you settled on pottery?
A: Clay most interested me in school because of its technical challenges. The BFA program I went through was an applied arts model, which meant that we had to take classes in all of the mediums and then choose a concentration. I get a lot of fulfillment from making useful pottery, but I remain open to explore other mediums that best suit objects that do not do well in clay.
C: What’s the most important part of your process of formulating a new pottery design?
A: The most important part of my design process is editing. I find the most satisfaction in clear and concise ideas.
C: Do you favor form or function when making?
A: Function. There is a minimalist slant that I favor, which is largely driven by the editing process.
C: The motifs of X, confetti and triangles are extremely present in your work. Are those just your natural doodles or is there a story?
A: I love reduction-fired stoneware with its iron spots and other inclusions that create variety and variation—but I fire in an electric kiln, which is a much less dynamic atmosphere. The shapes are an objective way to break up surface and create some variation. I’ve never liked the idea of decorating a pot—I want the content to exist in the form of the object.
C: What is it like to be a ceramic person in Saint Paul?
A: It’s great! I ended up in the area because of opportunities provided by Northern Clay Center that benefit early career potters. It was a good place to land after school. As I move forward I think it will become increasingly important to have broader exposure via the internet and other mediums that enable the work to be accessible to a larger audience.