Nicholas Hartmann- Full Artist Spotlight

Nicholas Hartmann's ceramics are an elemental abstract experiment in traditional forms.  Earthy and metallic, they are both functional and beautiful.

Nicholas joined MADE's artist roster at the end of 2023, and it is always exciting to see what new, unique designs will come to us next!


What is your favorite part of the maker’s process?

The very first thing I made when I started learning about ceramics was a pinch pot: a lump of clay that I shaped, in my own hands, into something that had an inside and an outside and became a useful container. That process of creating space out of lumps of clay still fascinates me.


How do you go about starting new designs, do you plan ahead or just jump right in?

I always know the general form I'm going to make -- a bowl, mug, vase, tumbler, whatever -- but sometimes a specific piece behaves unexpectedly as the wheel turns. I'm OK with that: clay has a mind of its own, and as a potter I need to respect and work with it. My attitude toward surface treatments is similar: after much experimentation I have developed a palette of glaze combinations that I know will look good despite the many variables of the firing method that I use. That tension between control and chance is a deliberate choice, and a constant source of surprise and delight.



Do you like a tidy work space or functional chaos?

I'm definitely tidy. All my procedures, materials, and tools have been carefully selected and organized, partly to pacify my inner control freak but mostly because that lets me work more productively. I also keep detailed records so I can remember what works and what doesn't.


What has been your biggest challenge as a professional artist?

My biggest challenge is confidence: "Is my work any good?" For a long time I knew that it wasn't, despite kind words from family and friends; but not long ago an experienced and perceptive artist and teacher answered the question for me by asking in turn "Do you think it's any good?" And by then it was, as confirmed by its presence at MADE Art Boutique and by my own ever-expanding awareness of what constitutes good work.


What brings you the most joy outside of the studio?

Since my wife and I moved to Arizona over a decade ago we have put lots of time and effort into gardening. We cultivate oranges, tangerines, peaches, grapes, and figs, along with lots of colorful desert shrubs and prickly things that produce amazing flowers. It's a never-ending process with huge numbers of unpredictable and uncontrollable variables, just like with ceramics, and we have learned to work with plants in much the same way: select carefully, control what you can, trust your materials, and be happy with the results.


What do you wish to see in the future to support artist owned small businesses in AZ? 

The Phoenix art scene seems to be lively, diverse, supportive and welcoming. Keep up the good work!


Anything exciting in the works/coming up for you this year? 

Apart from always trying to make taller forms just because they're fun to work with and look impressive, I'm hoping to branch out in terms of surface treatment. Abstract and unpredictable colors and textures will continue to be my focus, but I also want to start using ceramic pieces as canvases for graphics, both representational and geometrical. I have developed some promising substrates and mark-making methods, and now it's time to start drawing.


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Until a few years ago I made my living as a technical and scientific translator -- a highly specialized technical writer. It was a rewarding but very demanding profession: most of my clients were patent attorneys, who make their living by winning intricate arguments about words. My job was to sit at the computer and supply them with exactly the right words, every time. The practice of art, and especially of pottery, liberates me from the computer and from words; now I can explore the world of real things, where I can create my own definition of what is exactly right.


You can check him out around the web:

My gallery website contains images of my ceramic output along with some of my photographs and drawings.

Shop his collection of items at MADE :)