One of the first designers that joined our vendor club was Angela Venarchik. Her work is clean and functional with touches of exciting patterns and color. Her work is timeless, classic with hints of modern furry. We are excited to be getting a restock of some of her tea sets as well as some new items coming in the next month or two.
We wanted to catch up with her to find out a bit more of how she got started, her hopes, dreams and fears in life. Here is what she had to say!
1. How did you get started?
I learned in high school and had a teacher that really took me under her wing. She submitted some pieces to shows and her coaching really inspired my love the craft early on. I went to college and studied studio art focusing mostly on sculpture but switched back to functional ceramics my final year. I haven't missed more than 2 weeks in the studio making art since i was 18 :)
2. What did you do before you made ceramics? I had many jobs connected to the organic food industry: I was an organic farmhand every summer in high school, then I worked for Green Grocer, a little boutique grocer that gets almost all it's produce from local farms, then I managed at Whole Foods and Allegro Coffee for a few years. Ceramics was always a side hustle until I jumped in full time March of 2018.
3. Favorite music/artist?
Oh man, I don't think my taste in music has grown much since college but the most frequently played in my studio have been Built to Spill, John Moreland, Jose Gonzalez, Joanna Newsom, Bajjer and my Bach pandora station.
4. Favorite Peer designer?
I'm really impressed with Ashley Linn Pottery. Her glazes and simple shapes are just so good.
5. Favorite piece that you make?
I love doing tea sets. I'm pretty happy right now with the Frozen Lake Michigan series.
6. Hardest piece that you make?
Tea pots. There are just to many attachments and so many things to consider for it to be functional. From the shape of the body, to the angle of the spout, to the lid there a lot of small adjustments to make it work well. They are also the hardest to glaze and when they are almost finished i custom bend brass handles to fit each pot perfectly.
7. Where do you find inspiration?
I grew up in the Chicago Suburbs next to a large tall grass prairie reserve and then moved to Chicago after college and have lived lakeside in Rogers Park for the last 8 years. I draw inspiration from these iconic Midwestern landscapes and see them inform my aesthetic choices in the studio. My work is minimal and clean like these open spaces and i like to combine rich, saturated colors (like the bright blues of Lake Michigan or vibrant yellows in the prairie) with subtle or pale colors (like those found in a dormant winter prairie or snow covered urban landscapes). It might sound childish but I think that adult life is really enriched by some of the routines we had as kids....play and quiet, almost in ceremony. I hope to encourage curious play, exploration and enjoyment in the beautiful landscapes that surround Chicago by highlighting them, celebrating them and then giving back to them. I donate 5% of all profits from my Great Lakes and Prairie collections (launching fresh again at the end of the month) to foundations that help protect and preserve the natural areas around our city. I also hope to encourage quiet ceremony by creating pieces that aid intentionality, mindfulness, rest and contribute to beautiful meals with friends and family.
8. If you weren't a ceramicist what would you be?
I used to think I would still be some sort of craftsperson, I've always wanted to make furniture. But the older i get, the more nature nerdy I become. So I would love to be involved in some of the research or planning that goes into the restoration and preservation of the natural habitats in the Chicago area.
9. Favorite recipe with link or instructions?
We don't usually use recipes, we always just wing it. But our go to quick summer dinner is curried chicken pitas with as many fresh veggies as possible topped with avocado and a dollop of greek yogurt.
10. What has been the most challenging thing for you during this Covid Pandemic?
Honestly my daily work routine has not changed much. But I really miss being with my family. My little sister had just moved back from a few years in Austin and I was so looking forward to hanging out all the time.
11. Why did you choose clay as your medium?
The process is so exciting to me. This craft is about the objects more so than most other mediums. You don’t necessarily look at a painting and think, “wow, those are nice globs of paint”. You are probably more captivated by the composition or the subject matter than the material itself. But most of us DO look at a cup and think, “wow, that is a really nice glaze!”. The material is what is so obvious. And the task of mastering it and understanding it is a challenge that I enjoy and look forward to everyday.
12. What is the coolest thing that has happened to your career since starting ceramics?
My favorite part has been finding a community of people who truly love the Midwest and are stoked to share about the sweet memories they have exploring and playing in our region.
13. What of your pieces is your favorite and why?
I have a little blue cup that I made maybe 2 years ago and it is just perfect. The proportions are just right, the surface of the glaze is really dynamic and it fits in my hand perfectly. I have tried to replicate it over an over again but it is uniquely perfect which makes it even more special.
14. What is keeping you happy during this stay at home time?
Hiking around a bunch of forest preserves enjoying nature and all the migrating birds who are stopping through. I'm in the process of creating a list of my favorite spots with some photos so keep your an eye out for that if you are looking for some great local places to enjoy nature.
15. Any advice or recommendations you can give people to find happy time?
Look outside and focus on the beautiful things in nature that carry on and bloom despite us. Go for a walk in our forest preserves and you'll be reminded that there is abundance. Play, be active, or help someone. These things take my mind off myself and help quell anxiety and depression which can sneak up on anyone these days.
16. If you could eat at any restaurant right now, what restaurant and what would it be?
I am really missing good ole fashioned burgers and fries. So probably the Bad Apple.
18. Something you love? The Midwest!
19. Something you hate? Snakes. I'm unreasonably scared of them!
20. What does the future look like for you (in your hopes and dreams)? I hope to continue learning and growing technically in the studio. I also hope to continue to grow my community of Midwest lovers by reminding and celebrating with people about how beautiful and precious our region is. I would love to continue collaborating with designers and I dream of future collaboartion with non-profits who are the on the ground restoring and preserving the natural habitats that I enjoy so much.
Thanks so much, Angela, for letting us know a bit more about you!