ARTIST INTERVIEW: Beth Katz of Mt Washington Pottery
Company: Mt Washington Pottery
Artist: Beth Katz
Beth Katz of Mt Washington Pottery is a veteran Echo Park Craft Fair artist whose elegant ceramic designs are must-see at every event, especially her famous bells. We spoke to Beth about her background and the path that led her to her passion. When a creative existential crisis led Beth to a graduate school program in Spiritual Psychology she hadn’t anticipated it would lead her to the thing she had always loved, clay.
What was the catalyst for you becoming a ceramic artist?
I worked for many years as a make up artist in advertising, film and commercials. At a certain point I started to feel a desire to be more involved in the creative process and took a job as a creative director at an L.A. based national woman’s magazine. I loved the work but when the magazine was relocating to New York I knew it was time for me to make a change. I was ready for something new but really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I started exploring things, which let me to a program in Spiritual Psychology. It was fascinating and challenging and I loved it. Early on when confronting the “what’s next” question the feedback I received was “do what you love”. That sounded so irresponsible to me at the time and I spent my two years there moving to the place where doing what I loved was a possibility. Mt. Washington Pottery came directly out of my second year project work in graduate school.
How would you explain your style of work as well as your philosophy behind your work?
I have always been drawn to craft and I love the idea that the everyday things can be as beautiful as they are useful. My intention is to make work, infused with the happiness and positivity I experience while creating, for people to use, love and enjoy in their everyday lives.
Can you discuss your approach to creating and how you go about making something unique and different?
I‘m inspired all the experiences of my life, fashion, nature, poetry, art and design. I make things that bring me joy to make and to touch and use. I’m a tough customer and I feel if I can please myself that other people will appreciate the work too.
Can you talk about LA, what you like and dislike about the city and how the city has an influence on you and your work?
I grew up in L.A. and I’m a big fan. Los Angeles has a wonderfully rich diversity of people and culture and the best food. I also love that the ocean, the mountains and the desert all relatively close and accessible.’
Where do you get inspiration from on a regular basis?
I find inspiration by spending time outside in nature, having quiet time by myself, and traveling. I practice doing these things on a regular basis. These are the things that keep me happy and inspired to create.
Tell us about your work space and what makes it special for you to create your work?
I like a pretty quiet place to work with not much color and lots of natural light and fresh air. I moved into a new space at the beginning of the year and painted the studio white and had very simple birch plywood cabinetry made for the shop. I also added two ceiling fans to help combat the heat from the kilns. Besides my pottery I have a beautiful Danish clock, a Japanese calendar and a few special pieces of art, made by friends that make me happy to look at.
What ambitions do you have going forward? What do you want to achieve in the future?
I’ve starting a five year plan to search for where I’d like to live next. I’m dreaming of a less congested environment where I can have my studio next to where I live and host workshops in clay and mindfulness and self-care.
Finally, words to live by…
I try to smile a lot. I think happiness is a choice we get to make for ourselves.