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Meet Justin Beale of Justin Pottery in Pico Union

Today we’d like to introduce you to Justin Beale.

Justin, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I took my first ceramics class at 14, at La Follette High School in Madison, WI. The material just kind of stuck, and I decided to pursue it as my undergraduate degree.

In 2012, I received my BFA in Art & Design from University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Peck School of the Arts, with a concentration in ceramics. During undergrad, I studied abroad in Cortona, Italy, through University of Georgia Athens, Lamar Dodd School of Art. Where I met a dear friend and classmate from Santa Barbara, who convinced me to move to San Francisco to paint with her after graduation. This is where I met my husband, who was an international grad student from Taiwan.

After spending several years in the Bay Area, inevitably priced out year after year. My husband and I got married in Madison, and then decided to move to Los Angeles in 2018, settling in Koreatown where we still live today.

In September of 2019, I moved into my own space in Pico Union and founded Justin Pottery Co, with my studio becoming functional the week before Spring 2020 lockdown orders went into effect. As with everything this year, it has certainly been up and down, but I am eager to continue moving forward in my craft.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has certainly been a bumpy road.

One big struggle continues to be adequate affordable housing and studio space in both California and my home town of Madison, WI. There are also just so many daily struggles as a queer immigrant family in America. After my husband and I married in 2017, we began his immigration process. It has certainly been no cake walk, but we are grateful everyday.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Justin Pottery story. Tell us more about the business.
Justin Pottery Company is a small one person production pottery studio that I run. I am currently focused on a line of terra-cotta planters that I will be stocking permanently in my Etsy store as Fall 2020. Early 2021, I will begin developing a new line of dinnerware, while I explore different retail avenues.

Recently, I have to say, I am really proud of finally establishing my own studio. I did this out of pocket, while working full time at now covid-defunct Artist & Craftsman Supply on La Cienega. Covid has really set the timeline for my work this year, but I’m learning to be more flexible, and I think that’s a good thing.

My business at its core, is committed to craftsmanship, a playful use of color, and a fascination with imperfect experimentation.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Ah, haha, this makes me laugh a bit. I’d probably say it always feels like a bit more bad luck than good luck in the moment, but of course that all depends on how you look at it. I certainly feel like I have struggled so far to get my foot in the door to find that “big break”, but I always try to keep a positive outlook and keep perspective.

As a queer person, rejection or “bad luck” is kind of multidimensional. You have to take it with a grain of salt. There’s a lot of people in the craft and art world still working to uphold, and benefiting from, white supremacy and homophobia, so it’s a lot to unpack every time a success or rejection comes around. Especially when so many of those who are successful, are straight white people, who either don’t realize or don’t care that they are benefiting from a system of oppression. Sometimes I feel like I fly a little bit under the radar. I’m white and pass as straight if I don’t hang around too long, or talk too much, but so many straight people just do not understand queer nuances in life. So I know the conversation changes when I leave the room.

Pricing:

  • 2020 Terra-cotta Planter Series $29-$95, based on size and finish.
  • One of a kind pieces, $100+

Contact Info:

  • Website: JustinPottery.com
  • Email: justinpotterco@gmail.com
  • Instagram: @justin.pottery


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