Alex Beck works out of a studio in the Castro, in San Francisco. His pieces are heavier than you might expect before picking them up, and are created with inspiration by the nature, architecture, and sights of the California Bay Area where he grew up.
Tell us about your artistic background.
I was the art kid growing up. Art was always one of my favorite classes, whether it was drawing, painting, multimedia, you name it. I likely enjoyed it and was somewhat good at it. I was fortunate that my high school had a fully developed ceramics program, thanks to one of our art teachers who had studied ceramics in college. We had access to clay, glazes, wheels, a kiln and art classes. I quickly fell in love and signed up for every class I could. I took AP Art Studio and used the course to put together a portfolio of wheel thrown ceramics.
What do you love most about the medium you work in?
Tactility is one of the main things I like about clay and something I try to incorporate into my work. My work, especially high fire, tends to be carved with meticulous textures. For that reason, I like to encourage people to pick up these pieces. Unlike paintings or drawings, this builds on an additional sense and really makes clay unique. I like to make my work on the thicker side often for this reason. I love getting reactions from people when they pick up a piece and it's heavier than they expect. In a sense, it's a way of showing them it's handmade and different from the mass produced versions.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I get inspiration from everyday life, seemingly everywhere I look. A lot of my work incorporates patterns and I draw inspiration from nature, architecture, and the world's natural patterns that you sometimes overlook. Being part of community studios, I get inspiration and advice from my fellow ceramicists peers as well.
How does where you're from influence your work?
If I didn't grow up where I did, I may not have ever discovered ceramics. I'm extremely grateful to have grown up in a public school system that invested in the arts. That Bay Area has some unbelievable nature and architecture. I can be on my way to the studio and a colorful flower, local to the area, may inspire a new palette I want to incorporate into my work, or the side of a building I haven't seen before may inspire a new textured pattern I want to try out my next face. Plus – the ceramic artists in the area produce unbelievable work that inspires me on a daily basis.
What do you hope people feel when they interact with your work for the first time?
Well, all I can hope for is that my ceramics bring a smile to your face. I want my work to feel one of a kind, unlike anything they've seen or owned before.