Today we’d like to introduce you to Thomas Alban.
Hi Thomas, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
In the spring of 2000, I moved into the Mojave desert. I instantly found this place inspiring. At the time, I was making cement sculptures and fountains and was having a difficult time finding platters to fit the fountains and pumps. I had the idea of just getting a potter’s wheel and a kiln and making these large platters rather naïvely. Shortly after that, I was visiting some friend’s houses when they got their water delivery. The water truck backed into the front of my car giving it a nice shiner in the hood. Couple of weeks after that, I get a check in the mail from their insurance. I was fine driving around an old car with an extra shiner. Spent that money on a potters wheel and a kiln.
Driving home with the potters wheel in the car was an interesting feeling. I knew that a big shift in my life was about to take place. I fell in love with the process immediately. I rented books from the library and studied page after page of how to throw Pottery. This was all before YouTube. After only a few months of practicing the craft, I entered a local Christmas craft show. I remember being rather nervous showing these funky naive little pieces. At the end of the two days show, I ended up making more than I usually made in two weeks of construction work. I was rather happy with that and decided I would give it another try as soon as I had enough work made and that was the beginning of how I got started.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Living as a full-time artist is not an easy path. There’s always that balance of creativity and the business of art. I believe I’ve been able to put together a really good team of folks who work with me. Keeping that boat floating takes a lot of time. I don’t get a time card to clock out at the end of the day. There’s always something. I’ve had to learn how to wear many hats. It’s especially been difficult during this Covid time. I’ve had to stagger my employees so that there’s only one person working in the studio at any given time. And I’ve had to reduce their hours which has been tough.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I’ve been focusing on a series of Faux Bois (like wood) vessels. I’m attracted to the vessel or Bowl form. Bowls contain my feelings, experiences, and fantasies. Even if the piece is non-functional, purely sculptural, or a wall hanging, I still see it as a vessel holding a story. The process of art is something I take a while to think about. From its construction to the finished form, the colors, the surfaces to how it will be displayed. I’ve been able to create pieces in which I often get asked. How did you glaze the inside of wood? One thing that sets my work apart from other Faux Bois Artist is that a lot of them will create ceramic pieces that look exactly like wood. I like to retain the idea of functionality as a bowl. They can be seen at mazamarsculptural.com. I appreciate the conversation that takes place between the material, clay and how the form ends up. I have a daily fascination with different materials, textures, light, and shadow, smooth too rough, the sky to rock. The slick movement of wet clay. From a fixed form to a collapsed form. The texture of wood the texture of water. That moment you see the shape of wind through dust or grass. The folds of fire in the sky through a partly cloudy sunrise. The questions left on answerable from asking why this is what informs and inspires my work. I’m grateful to be a self-educated artist what informs me as my inspiration, I have not been taught what to think. I would rather respond to the nature of materials and search for life in the work.
Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers who might just be starting out?
The business of art and living by way of art can be difficult. One has to be a self-starter and self-motivated and that’s not always easy. One thing I can recommend for younger artists that I’ve gotten into the practice of is getting into the studio every day and making one mark. No matter how tough the day has been or how lousy I feel, I get into the studio and commit to making just one mark. On rare occasions, that’s what happens and I’m fine with that. I committed to making one Mark and some days that’s all I have in me. It’s usually quite rare that that actually happens though. After I make that one mark the hours flow by and creativity happens. Also, the idea of “is my art good enough?” is something an artist should not be focused on. Quite frankly that’s not up to you. As pieces sell that should inform some of your future creations. But what other people think about your work is really none of your business.
- Faux Bois vessel Small $200
- Faux Bois vessel medium $400
- Faux Bois vessel Large $600
- Faux Bois vessel Very large $900
- Email: Info@MazAmar.com
- Website: mazamarsculptural.com mazamar.com
- Instagram: mazamarsculptural mazamarartpottery
- Facebook: mazamar
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