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Check out Clate Grunden

Today we’d like to introduce you to Clate Grunden.

Clate, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Drippies; miniature sculptures made of sand and water evoking a primordial tower or ancient castle. Making drippies as a child on the beach on vacation was my first experience molding natural materials into art. As a kid, I also had a fascination with structures and architecture. I would draw, paint, made model houses out of balsa wood, sketched floorplans, and drew elevations of dream houses. When I began high school, I had an art teacher that was a very accomplished potter; after one class, I was completely hooked. It was an epiphany, a moment in time when my natural instincts truly connected to this practice of working with clay. My undergraduate work was focused on ceramics, and I continued to make work after I graduated. About 20 years ago, I was drawn out west, I moved to Los Angeles and began assisting a fashion stylist as a day job. One day she said to me, “you should really consider being an interior designer. I have a friend that is looking for an assistant, and I think you guys would get along great!” I began working as an assistant with designer Tim Clarke, all the while continuing to make conceptual ceramics sculptures at a community college on the weekends. Being in the design world and working on projects, I realized that there was a lack of interesting contemporary table lamps and lighting in Los Angeles. It dawned on me that I could combine my love of ceramics, my day job in design and possibly make a little extra money. The need was apparent, and the venue was easily accessible, so I began creating a line of lighting for our clients and retail shop. In terms of style, I went with my instincts. It was born out of my drippie sculptures from my childhood, combined with the casual Cali lifestyle. I was intuitively drawn to organic shapes, textures from nature, and brutalist forms. I would spend my weekends making the ceramic lamp bases, getting them wired, and having custom shades made. We started using them in our own projects, other designers would purchase my lamps from our shop, and it just gradually expanded from there. Now the line has grown to over 30 styles of lamps and light fixtures with the constant exploration of new designs.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
When I moved to Los Angeles from back East, I was completely inspired by the diversity of the Southern California landscape; the beach, the mountains, the desert, palm trees, succulents, Joshua trees, and driftwood. Being originally from Ohio, it was all pretty exotic to me. I also fell in love with the abundant mid-century architecture and furnishings. We didn’t get much of that in Cleveland either. I think all of these things have informed my style of ceramics. Everything I do is hand built using either slab construction or hand-rolled coils. When building, I like to focus on the inherent quality of the clay, allowing it to take on an organic quality that feels like it comes from the earth. I like to embrace the imperfections. I am not interested in making something that is so perfect that it looks like it could be found at any big box store. I want my hand to be visible, each piece to be unique and the work to have a soul. I love the idea that the owner of one of my lamps potentially interacts with my piece on a daily basis; using it for light and hopefully adding a little bit of beauty in their space.

What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
For me, success is that I am able to do what I love and that other people appreciate my work. An essential characteristic for an artist would be an extreme passion to create coexisting with the ability to remain open to new concepts.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
The best place to see my work in person is at Tim Clarke Supply in Santa Monica. We recently moved to a much larger location on Pico Blvd and just launched our online shop. I am also represented by Rune NYC. Most of my work is custom commissions, so I don’t keep a huge inventory. Also, many designers and clients are looking for something very specific, and with custom orders, they get exactly what they need.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Noah Webb

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