012 – Who Has Influenced Your Work?

MudTalk Podcast
MudTalk Podcast - Pottery, Ceramics, Business
012 - Who Has Influenced Your Work?

In this episode we will discover who has had the greatest influence in our work.

The Biggest Influence On Your Work


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Jim Rohn quotes


Thank you for listening. This is episode number 12. In this episode, many of you shared who has had the biggest influence on your work. This is an interesting question to me because most of us are influenced by so many different people. There were a few responses about the influence of nature and family. A couple people noted the influence of teachers or instructors. Most of the responses mentioned other potters as a dominant influence. We’ll hear those comments and at the end I’ll share a few of my favorite responses and try to pick just one person as the biggest influence for my own work. Before we get started, I just want to apologize again for any mispronunciations that I have surely made and will make. If I mess up your name, let me know. Now, let’s get to the responses.


Mimiho_cat,  Dowidat.ceramics, and Tselut_official all said that nature is their biggest influence.

Teerraku The universe


Jeikobu_jeikobu My mom.

Teachers / Professors

Studio2ceramics Our college ceramics professor has had so much influence on our work. His compassion and generosity is something we want to always express in clay. ❤

Octopusceramics Definitely my art teachers, mainly the one I have now at the studio I go to! Now that I’m on Instagram too, there are so many potters that inspire me every day

Other Potters

A majority of the responses mentioned other ceramic artists and potters.

Claybylaura It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve had some incredible teachers and influencers along the way. Most recently, @amysanderspottery opened my eyes and taught me incredible hand building techniques that I use in my current creations. She is a warm, funny and very giving instructor in addition to being a fantastic clay role model!

Judykepes As a kid it was Durer, as a young adult I worked for Richard Shaw and studied with Ron Nagle both of whom influenced my world view not just my art. Huge debt of gratitude to them.

Jude_prevost_ceramics I have had many teachers who influenced me and watched a wide variety of ceramic artists for inspiration… My husband brings me textures and tools he creates at work that have a big influence on what I decide to create… But I took a workshop a few years ago from #judyweeden and as a handbuilder her tips and info were priceless. She taught me about timing, about leather, soft leather and how to join pieces at any stage… That by far was the biggest influence on how I treat the clay and how I work with each piece

Mudsmoke Deborah Shapiro is a legend.

Claritatrucco To me @tortus

Jpiercepottery Without a doubt @jenallenceramics is the person that has influenced me the most!

Gnome_island_studios I’m learning a lot from my fellow sculptors @redbrickceramics This weekend @tom_michelson gave me a lot to ponder. @joethrows helped me save a piece recently. In the past @medicatedlimbs and @artknok taught me a bunch, as did @ryanmccullen

Sallyannesadler Soji Hamada. Marianne de Trey. Bernard Leach. Peter Lane. John Takehara. And Lucie Rie.

Woodywood250 Susie bowman!

Skunke1 Jean-nicolas gerrard

Laura S It’s hard to pick just one. I’ve had some incredible teachers and influencers along the way. Most recently, @amysanderspottery opened my eyes and taught me incredible hand building techniques that I use in my current creations. She is a warm, funny and very giving instructor in addition to being a fantastic clay role model!

Anna R I think Lucie Rie and Diana Fayt. The first for shape the second for decoration.

Maggie T ron meyers


Tracymurphyceramicartist Myself. I’m the only one I do this for.

Anyguelmann As a child and teen, my mom, the artistic polymath. As an adult, working at @etsy and watching incredible Etsy sellers make a living off of their creativity and talent.

Pathwaypottery To be honest I’ve learned more from YouTube than I did at school. I didn’t realize how much I hadn’t been taught until I got out on my own.


Ginger barr heafey I am surprised by my own answer…my husband. He gives an honest critique, is encouraging, and appreciates my labor of love. Thanks for making me think about this!

You’re welcome Ginger. I’m glad that you shared your answer with us. And I have to agree. After thinking about it, one of my biggest influences is my wife. She says she doesn’t have a creative bone in her body. And maybe she doesn’t influence my actual pots that much. But her overall influence is amazing. She supports me and my work, in many ways. She is always encouraging but isn’t afraid to be honest if she doesn’t like something. She takes care of the family finances so I can focus on my business finances. She takes care of the kids and the housework so I have time to work on my pots after my day job if I want. I haven’t talked her into actually helping make pots or mixing glazes or loading the kiln but she will share ideas for new work or tell me why she likes or doesn’t like pots that I make or we see from other potters. She even helps me run the booth at some shows. So thanks to my wife and Ginger’s husband and all the other supportive partners out there.

Glaze_thepotterystudio Hands Down, my family and life all around me. Just can(‘t) pick one. ? so many influences floating all around us!

I think this is my favorite response because it’s closest to what I would say. It is natural for the people that you are closest to, to influence you the most. It has even been said by Jim Rohn that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. I’m not sure of the specifics but this idea seems to make a lot of sense. Growing up I spent a lot of time with my parents. And considering my very DNA came from theirs, they have had a tremendous influence on me. Both have been very supportive of my own creative endeavours and provided me with plenty of opportunities. My dad had a pole barn while I was growing up and it was filled with woodworking tools and materials. My brother and I got to go out there a lot and build things and destroy stuff and just explore a lot of things. My mom was always engaged in some kind of creative activity from oil painting and stained glass to basket weaving and quilting. They were both always working on something and I think that has shaped my own idea of self worth being related to creating things. So in a foundational sort of way, my parents and other family members have set me on a path to create and eventually I found my way to clay.

All the teachers I’ve had have influenced me to varying degrees. I’m sure my ceramics professor at Huntington University has influenced my work more than I can even imagine. Professor Coffman taught me how to throw, mix clay and glazes and fire kilns. It would be interesting to see if my work would be much different if someone else had taught me with their own spin on the basics.

As for directly influencing my work, I’d have to say that other potters have had a lot of influence. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve incorporated into my own work some things that I appreciate in work by potters that live near me. Listen to episode 5 if you want to hear more about that. I’m also inspired by plenty of potters online. Sometimes it’s not even an exact technique or a certain design element. Sometimes I just look at all the amazing work on Instagram and Pinterest and think, “Look at the detail on the bottom of that mug, I should put a little more effort into mine instead of just a plain clay foot.

If I had to pick just one person with the most influence, at this point, I would have to flip a coin with Dick Lehman on one side and Justin Rothshank on the other. You may not be able to tell at first glance if you looked at my work alongside Dick or Justin’s. At least I hope it’s not too obvious.

work by Justin Rothshank via rothshank.com
work by Justin Rothshank via rothshank.com

But I probably wouldn’t be making antique world map mugs or maybe not even using decals at all if it weren’t for Justin. I learned the technique from him years ago during classes and workshops and then I’ve had a chance to see how far he has taken the technique in his own work. He didn’t teach me just the technique, he has inspired me to think about how the decals can be part of the whole surface, all the way around. I also like his loose throwing style. I still throw relatively tight forms to begin with but I like to add a little “wonk” to make each piece a little different.

work by Dick Lehman via michianapotterytour.com
work by Dick Lehman via michianapotterytour.com

Dick has had a similar influence. I’ve started to experiment with a little more texture on my pots after seeing some of his techniques. He has also inspired me to develop some glaze combinations that work well on texture and really add a lot of interest to the surface. Some of his wood and soda fired pots are just unbelievable. I don’t fire in these environments a lot but I like to put glazes together that will add a certain randomness to the surface. I also am fascinated with the way he can tell a story with his work and include such organic forms and gesture. I still like I’m focusing most of my attention on the details of function so I haven’t advanced that far yet. But I do think about it a lot.

So, these two guys have been the biggest influence on my work so far. But with technology, I feel like there have been, and will be, many potters that influence my work that I haven’t even met in person. Too many to name right now. Maybe we’ll have to have a topic about your favorite potters of instagram.

And speaking of influence, if you didn’t listen to the last episode, I have a couple ways that you may be able to connect with some other potters and clay artists. On the Expert Clay blog we will start a featured maker series. If you are interested in sharing about yourself and your work send a note to brandon@expertclay.com so I know you’re interested and I’ll send you the details. By the time you are listening to this episode, I hope to finalize a place to send your information.

I’ll also be starting an Expert Insight series. This will be a little different and will highlight part of the process that you really enjoy or that makes your work unique. And I’m open to other ways to allow other people to participate and share their thoughts and work. So let me know if you have some good ideas.

Remember, you can leave a review for the MudTalk Podcast on itunes or the Play Store. You can also share your thoughts at expertclay.com/mtp about any of the topics that have been covered.

Thanks for listening and thanks especially to all of you who shared your biggest influence. In the next episode we’ll discover what kind of clay many of you use and why you use it. Until then, stay muddy.

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