We’re so excited for our latest installment of Meet the Artisan with the talented ceramicist, Tracie Hervy! Tracie is a New York-based potter whose work transcends both form and function to reveal the true essence of her pieces with an eye towards simplistic elegance. All of her ceramics are wheel thrown by hand, with no two looking exactly alike. Drawing inspiration from the shapes and lines of prehistoric vessels, Tracie creates the most beautiful ceramics that we just can’t get enough of. Today on the blog, she shares more about her creative journey from architecture and painting to potter. Read on to meet Tracie Hervy and learn more about her creative path. P.S. be sure to check out her website and Instagram!
Tell us about your journey. How did you arrive at becoming a ceramicist?
The plan was to become an architect, but the summer after my first year of grad school (I was studying architecture at the University of Washington) I got a job working in a metal shop for a firm that did design/build. I spent 8-9 hours a day cutting, grinding, and drilling holes into plates of steel. It changed the way I thought about craft and provided insight into manufacturing and production. Previously, manufacturing was something that seemed remote and devoid of the human hand. I came to understand how important craft remains in the making (not only the conception) of all the things we use in our everyday lives. That summer I discovered that for me, working with my hands is essential. I also discovered the power of being able to make my ideas real, to give them a material reality using my own two hands.
How I came to ceramics is pretty random. For a short time I dated a ceramic artist. What I saw in ceramics was an opportunity to work in 3-D again. (Painting had been my primary medium at the time). Also, I was working to support my art habit; with ceramics, I could see the possibility of supporting the thing that I love to do, with the thing that I love to do. Making.
I started taking classes at Greenwich House Pottery in NYC. In 2009 I applied to grad school and spent 2 years in the Ceramics Dept. at the Rhode Island School of Design (although most of my time was spent in the wood shop making installations). After graduating, I got a job working for an architect. I rented a space at a studio in Brooklyn, but the commute made it difficult to get in much studio time. Photography and video were taking up more of my hours.
In 2015-2016 I completed a short film documenting the life of a family in Lagos, Nigeria, and a public art project for the City of New York. I dipped my toe once again in the in art world and was quickly reminded of the reasons behind my ambivalence of that world. In 2015, I was still working for the architect. I decided that I needed a change; that I wanted to be my own boss again, so I quit my job and started doing what I had planned in 2009, making a living selling pots. In 2016 creative activities not involving ceramics were set aside and my life as a potter began.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced along your creative journey, and how did you overcome them?
The biggest challenge is finding the time to grow the business while also developing new work and keeping production standards high. I have had to develop the power of saying NO and deciding on 3-5 things to focus on, then letting the rest fall away.
What fuels your inspiration?
Good film, good art, seeing kitties move about the world, good architecture, Richard Devore.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Do the work then find a place for it. Perseverance and patience are key.
What’s a typical day for you like during quarantine?
Up sometime between 5am and 9:30pm. Feed kitties. Feed myself. Shower, then off to the studio. Work 6-15 hours. Home. Tend to kitties. 30min – 4 hours of Admin. Dinner. 1 hour of Hulu, Netflix or Mubi. Sleep, then repeat.
Do you have a daily ritual giving you solace at home?
Exercise, reading Chekhov, petting kitties, my partner.
Form or function?
Both; they are inseparable.
Four things you can’t live without?
Good books, good movies, my partner, kitties.
What’s next for Tracie Hervy?
For several years I have shared a space with 7 other potters. In 6 weeks I will be moving into my own space that I can customize to suit my needs.