Jason Outlaw and Rosalie De Fini Outlaw founded Outlaw Pottery in October 2008 and teach pottery classes for children and adults at the Newton-Conover Auditorium's NewArt school. Here is their interview for Aroma of Art...
What is your background/how did you get started in your medium?
Jason started throwing pots in high school and fell in love with clay art. He wanted to go to college for an arts degree, but his family couldn't afford that type of education. Instead, Jason received a work study opportunity to attend the Disney Culinary Academy and focus his creativity on the culinary arts. He worked in four-star restaurants as a sous chef and executive chef in Florida, including NASCAR and Disney - for 16 years. His ice sculptures for NASCAR and other food sculptures were one way he took his love for sculpture and used it in his culinary career. Ready to change lifestyles from the hustle and bustle of the late nights running restaurants, he moved to North Carolina near his family and embarked on a second arts career as a potter.
Rosalie grew up influenced by painters on her mother's side of the family and photographers on her father's side. She learned to paint from her artist mother who used to own her own painting business creating accessories for the Broyhill Furniture Galleries in the 1980's. Rosalie studied art photography and photojournalism at the University of Florida. After a long career in nonprofit management, Rosalie joined Jason in the pottery business in 2009.
What effect are you tyring to have on people through your art?
Freedom of expression is very important to us, and we run Outlaw Pottery in a way that allows us to create one-of-a-kind pieces of art instead of strictly functional pottery production. We love to commune with other potters and exchange ideas. There are a million and one ways to throw a pot, and everyone has something to share. As teachers at the NewArt School pottery studio, we have an opportunity to share our love of clay arts with the community. Our personal motto is "peace, love and pottery!" We have to that on a tee-shirt right away.
What drew you to your particular medium?
Clay is about feeling. You can't just look at the pot you're throwing. You have to feel it all the way through the process. Sometimes when you throw a ball of clay on the wheel and get started, it tells you what it wants to be and surprises you! Other times you know exactly what you're aiming for and set out on a path to create it. Of course, one of the best things about being a potter is that our daily uniform is muddy jeans and tee-shirts. It's down and dirty.
Who were your mentors/inspiring artists as you began to discover your art?
Jason's first art mentor was his high school pottery teacher, Mrs. Farmer, from whom he took classes for three years. Rosalie's art inspirations come from her great-grandmother and mother who are painters and the mend in the De Fini family who are amateur photographers. We both consider every potter who shares with us a piece of our art. We have learned so much from spending time with local potters like Hamilton Williams, Gary Lee, Varian Swieter, Betty Gardner, Jesse Rivera, Roger Corn, and so many more! Each one of them inspires us.
What was your first piece of art you created and what inspired it?
Neither of us can remember our first piece of art since we have been artists since we were children. However, we have a great story about the first piece of art that inspired our love affair and eventually the logo for Outlaw Pottery. On our second date, Jason asked me if I could refresh him on the tale of the Frog Prince because he had a concept in mind for a piece of pottery on which he could sculpt the frog. As an english major, I told him the tale and then read the original story to him out of my copy of Grimm's Fairytales on our third date. The story of the Frog Prince inspired a piece of pottery that Jason created as a gift fro me that we not call the "The Frogs of Grimm." A year later when Jason started Outlaw Pottery, we worked together with our artistic friends and family to create a logo inspired by that piece of pottery.
What are some of your favorite projects and what are you working on right now?
Right now we are addicted to Raku pottery! We can't get enough of this technique. Raku pottery is created with a specific ceramic firing process that uses both fire and smoke to create unique patterns and designs. It is the post fire reduction stage that creates the unique look of raku pottery. The resulting patters are colors are unpredictable, as they are created thought he natural process of oxygen removal. Each piece of raku pottery is therefore one-of-a-kind. We really like the effects we can achieve with the metallic raku glazes. We purchased our raku kiln in November 2009 and have become addicted to raku firing. So look for lots of raku creations from Outlaw Pottery in 2010! Our raku pottery is for sale at our new Etsy.com online store.
Outlaw Pottery's donations to Aroma of Art are up for auction at Taste Full Beans Coffee House through the auction finale on March 4th.
More from Outlaw Pottery tomorrow chronicling the beginnings of Aroma of Art and some of the great potters donating to the auction this year.