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Posey Bacopoulos – Artist Interview

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A few months ago I received a letter telling me that Posey Bacopoulous had images accepted to the upcoming book 500 Vases, (due out next month). I was very confused. I looked back at the envelope and then again at the letter. The envelope was indeed addressed to me. At first I was extremely disappointed, I thought my application had been rejected, and somehow  I got  Posey letter, instead of my rejection letter. What diabolical trick!!  As I went through the rest of my mail that day, I found another letter also address to me from Lark Books, this HAD to be the terrible rejection letter. But amazingly, it was not!! I had also been accepted to 500 Vases!! Now the mystery is how did I get Posey’s letter? I have no idea. I did throw it in another envelope and mail it to her. Thus our conversation started and I asked her to be interviewed on my blog. This is one of the more interesting stories of meeting an artist’s to be interviewed on this ol’ blog.

For more information of Posey’s work visit her website at www.poseybacpoulos.com 

Tell us about yourself

I am a studio potter living in New York City. I have lived in the New York City area all my life except for a time when I went to college in Madison, Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin. My apartment is in Greenwich Village. It is in a big tall building and I am on the 14th floor so I have great views of the Empire State Building and west to New Jersey . My block is really lovely with lots of trees and beautiful old brownstones. My studio is in Long Island City and I get there by subway. I do not own a car. The trip door to door is about half an hour and I use that time to catch up on my reading._poseyMG_8499How did you become an artist?

When I was in school in Madison I studied European History. When I graduated there was not much for me to with that degree so I went back to school to get a masters degree in elementary education. I came back to NYC and started to teach elementary school. I was a classroom teacher and taught everything-reading, math science etc. One day I decided it would be fun to take a class at night and be the pupil instead of the teacher. I called a friend and asked her if she wanted to go with me. She said she had always wanted to take a pottery class. I did not really want to do that because I did not think that I was artistic. I had never had any art classes in high school or college. But she convinced me to go and that was it. Clay is very seductive and I was hooked very quickly. Teaching school I had my summers off and I started going to all the craft schools-Penland, Haystack, Anderson Ranch.posey1178How would your describe your style

Living in NYC it would be very difficult If not impossible for me to have a gas kiln or a wood kiln. So after spending a semester in Italy in the University of Georgia Studies Abroad program where we did majolica I decided to continue working that way. It is suited to my city life as it only requires an electric kiln. My style is a contemporary approach to the majolica of the Italian Renaissance. I have been working with majolica for the past 15 years. The floral motifs on my pots are patterns rather than actual representations that serve to divide the space in interesting ways.posey4066What is your inspiration for your pieces?

I like to look at Japanese Orbie and Mimbres Indian pots. I am inspired by the way that they use their decorative techniques to enrich their pots. Whenever I see a “good pot “ either old or new I am inspired to make my own pots.posey4073What keeps you motivated?

I am motivated by the search to make “better and better” pots. I love to make pots and I love to decorate and I combine these two loves in my work.posey341079-R1-E002Are you a full time artist?

I am a full time studio potter. I find that one pot leads to another. If I try a new form on a mug and it works I will then try it on a pitcher and then on other pots. There are so many variations on single idea. It keeps me going. It seems there is always something new to work on.posey341079-R1-E007What made you want to start creating?

I took my first pottery class and was quickly hooked on clay.Posey%20%20Bacopoulos%20Flower%20BasketWhat or who inspires you?

I was lucky to be able to go to various craft schools when I was learning to make pots. I was inspired by the many teachers I worked with during these summer workshops. Also I have a large collection of pots in my apartment which I look at and use everyday. I am constantly inspired by them.posey_bacopoulos%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20%20scalloped%20PlateHow do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

I do not always. I try to work during the week and take off on the weekends but it usually does not work out. I am often in the studio on Saturdays and sometimes on Sunday. I do take time to exercise and do Pilates two mornings a week. But my life does revolve around my studio.I enjoy being in the studio and working.posey_MG_5747You like most people enjoy the process of making and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

I think of the business aspect as part of the whole process. It completes the pot when someone buys and uses it. The “business” is not as much fun as making pots but it is the end of the process that gets the pots to the user.poseyBAC-P-174What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice?

Make lots of pots and then make more. It is through the making that you find your own voice. It’s a process and lots of hard work but in the end it is worth it. 

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4 Responses to “Posey Bacopoulos – Artist Interview”

  1. Emily W. Says:

    I got a check for my wedding made out to another newly-wed couple. Being extremely young (22) I think I just ripped it up not knowing wanting to embarrass the sender by sending it back. (Duh!)

    Also, I thought you might like to see my latest blog post.
    http://actegratuit.blogspot.com/2010/09/labor-day-weekend-second-third.html
    I went to a really cool pottery studio/gallery here in Japan!
    :)

    Emily

    BTW, I followed your recommendation and ordered Pottery Making Illustrated and I really love it!

  2. ron Says:

    I love Posey’s work and it was neat to learn a little more about her. I have at times wanted to live and work in a big city. I don’t know that I’d last long but I like hearing that others do it. I regret that I missed my chance to go to a workshop of Posey’s not long ago. I hope to get to see her make and decorate pots another time.

  3. Connie Says:

    H Emily
    That’s a great story!! I went to your blog, I love the pots. I hope I can go back to Japan some day soon.

  4. Connie Says:

    Hi Ron
    I used to want to live in NYC, “way back when”, I when I was in college I would go to the city for all my breaks. After several years of this I could only handle about 3 days. I still love going to NYC, but living in such a quiet place I know after my 3 day limit, all the noise starts to get to me.