Ceramic Artist Spotlight: Wil Labelle

Wil LaBelle has been a professional potter for over a decade. His functional pottery is modern and refined, featuring  sgraffito carving with a noir theme. He currently lives and works in Portland, OR. You can find his work in a number of Portland venues, such as Jasmine Pearl Tea Merchants, StuStuStudio and Made Here PDX. You can contact Wil with questions or commissions at wlabellepottery@gmail.com

1. What inspires your creations?

I get much of my inspiration from other art mediums such as film and music.  Attending a live show and witnessing another's divine genius, or honed discipline is a great honor.  It typically fills me with ideas and motivation to apply them to my work.  The fresh air of a natural setting and rigorous bike ride and the expansion of mind and body that brings will often bare the gift of a new idea.

2. What is your artistic process?

Get the idea - sketch it down to paper - build it.  I'm a thrower; so I'll try a few different versions of an idea and fire them all to completion.  I'm also a functional potter; so, to me, that means I put to use everything I make, before it's put up for sale.  If a piece doesn't quite function correctly, then it's donated and a new, improved  piece replaces the old one.  I usually begin to sell the second model.  I'll then use customer feedback to improve upon that design.  I'll sometimes improve a design years after the first one was thrown…constant use, examination, and comparison.

3. What techniques do you use?

I use the potter's wheel and a wet clay medium to make functional pottery.  I throw, alter, attach, close the form, and often carve for decoration. or sometimes draw right on the pot.  I had humble beginnings as an illustrator while in college, so that need to convey a story through drawing is a reoccurring theme in my work.

4. What is your background? (Where you are from, education, etc.)

I grew up on the coast of southern Maine, and have been drawing since I was a tike.  There were some old detective novels in the house in which I grew up that were slightly above my reading level, at the time.  I remember trying to make sense of this very adult story line and attempting to illustrate pinnacle moments in the plot.  Later,  I attended Franklin Pierce College in New Hampshire where I nurtured drawing and painting skills, and discovered Clay and the wheel for the first time.  I began working in the industry right after school: Large factories, small production houses, taught wheel throwing classes, and sold at shows whenever possible.  I am currently instructing continuing adult ed wheel throwing classes at the Oregon College of Art and Craft, as well as Georgies ceramics.  My work can be seen in  a number of shops in Portland, and at my website.