"Deep down I wanted to experience the feel of making a bowl."
Jim Franco is a ceramicist, lifestyle photographer and filmmaker based in New York City. He has traveled the globe shooting imagery and video for hotel and publishing clients including Conde Nast Traveler, Apartment Therapy, Whole Foods Magazine and Food Network. After an initial lesson, he taught himself the craft of ceramics and now makes them professionally.
Curiosity about the craft of ceramics made me take a lesson. I have appreciated ceramics for years and I co-own a prop house with an extensive collection of ceramics and would use ceramics when I shot food pics. Deep down I wanted to experience the feel of making a bowl. I hoped to understand the thought process that goes into shaping a ceramic piece, the aesthetic decisions that make a bowl pleasant versus not so nice.
I am basically in the same place but the ceramic pieces I make now listen to what my hands say. At the beginning my hands and the clay spoke different languages.
Advice on a transformative step really depends on the person. Some people just need to open the door and walk through it without planning. Others, myself included, feel more comfortable planning the change. With ceramics I had nothing to loose since I was / am a working photographer. My partner offered to sign me up at a nearby ceramic studio for my birthday and that was the start of my obsessive relationship with clay.
Years before, I did make the transformation from a full-time job as a photo editor to becoming a freelance photographer. For that transition I planned and shot and compiled a portfolio and saved money for the first year I would be without a corporate paycheck. In this case, planning made me feel comfortable about the change I was making.
Anyone interested in exploring another creative path and work identity just has to start taking the steps necessary to open the door to the new challenge. Taking a class. Saving funds. Buying equipment and materials. Seeking advice from professionals. All these efforts make beginning easier and more fruitful.
I did not have any one ceramic person in mind whose career I thought would be a good template for me. I have a self-reliant personality, which comes in handy when freelancing. There were styles of ceramics I felt reflected my aesthetic but no one person I knew who I could use as a guide.
I am basically self-taught. Took two lesson and then just devoted hours and hours at the wheel and hours watching ceramic artists on Youtube.
Hawaii for the lifestyle, Japan for the craftsmanship and design.
The nature in Hawaii is on overdrive. The sky is intense. The clouds seem always to be fantastic. The air is like a perfume. The trees and flowers so rich. And deep down I am a flip-flop sort of guy.
Japan takes nothing for granted, style-wise. Always exploring ideas and tweaking crafts. In the US we might pick something up. Turn it over once or twice and think we have seen it. To me the Japanese would pick something up and turn it over and over and over trying to get to the inside of the piece.
Right now I am editing some videos I've done, so I'm into the process of film-making. But it's just one of the crafts I love to do. Film-making, photography, painting, ceramics. I don't feel like I am neglecting one practice when I do the other crafts. To me they are all stepping-stones across the river of creativity.
All images used with permission of Jim Franco.