Tom Jaszczak – Artist Interview
What is the biggest change in your work or life since your emerging artist talk?
I don’t know that I have made a major change in my work since my emerging artist talk. Things just keep rolling forward right now, I would like to make a momentous change soon and have ideas that I am putting on the back burner. Right now, and probably for the first time in my life, my family is in the driver’s seat and my work is second. I have a one year old and am looking to buy a house/studio. So, the most important thing is setting the three of us up to succeed since we live off the sales of my pottery. I have made a lot of new bisque mold trays, some drape molded pots, a new white and black surface, a few new surface solutions like using a vinyl cutter to cut shapes and for some reason I have gotten back to making teapots.
How would you describe yourself? How would your friends/family describe you?
I am steady, determined and have a dark sense of humor. My wife would probably say I am steady, willful, maybe stubborn and most important to our relationship is to be funny/goofy.
When were you first introduced to ceramics and by whom?
I was lucky enough to get an education in MN where public school generally has a lot to offer. Including having a high school teacher who predominantly taught ceramics, Jon Holtz. He was a Randy Johnston student and I took all the ceramics electives offered in school. We also were fortunate to take field trips to the Northern Clay Center, the Weisman, Walker and Minneapolis Institute of Art. These places all were informative, especially NCC. Later I would take ceramics as an elective in college and slowly it willed me into pursuing it full time.
What do you listen to while you work?
I listen to music, podcasts and sports. The podcasts I enjoy most are Bill Maher, Democracy Now, Ear hustle and anything Radiolab produces. My favorite thing to have on in the studio is any Minnesota sports team, I love sports in the studio. There is nothing better when I need to work late then a baseball game, a beer and a few pots to trim. I wish I was a better music fan, but I tend to just let pandora do the choosing. I just don’t have time do research all the things I wish I could.
What kind of creative patterns, routine or rituals do you have?
For being a self-employed artist, I am very routine oriented. On a day to day basis I tend to work 8am to 8pm and I use a making list to give myself goals and fill the kiln efficiently. I have developed a making cycle where I have wet working days for the first 15 days of the month. I bisque, decorate, glaze, fire and clean pots the second half of the month. Whatever time is left at the end of the month is my free time (usually 2-5 days). This seems to be the right amount of time to leave me wanting more of all parts of the process and allows for two kiln loads of work.
What informs your work?
A lot of things. I share a studio with my wife (Maggie Jaszczak) and that is always informing my work. We steal ideas from each other frequently. Last year I started looking at minimal tattoos and that has come into play. A lot of graphics come into my work intuitively. Contemporary potters that inform my work are Mark Pharis, Michael Simon, Randy Johnston and Lucie Rie. I have mostly focused on contemporary pottery and have not dug into historical pots. One reason is I had such great pottery around me in Minnesota to handle it had to make its way into my work. It also works for me to be ignorant, I don’t spend much time looking on social media or in books. It keeps me feeling my work is authentic and there is still so much to inform me with those pots.