In honor of the 20th Annual Northeast Artists' Studio Tour, we've interviewed our super talented artists to share how they got where they are and why they make the work that they do.
First up is potter Rick Scheffert of Spirit of Clay Pottery. Rick's studio is location #42 on the tour, at 2089 Union Prairie Road in Calmar. This year's tour is Friday through Sunday, October 13th to the 15th, with all locations on the tour open from 10am to 5pm each day.
Who are you and what kind of art do you make?
My name is Rick Scheffert. I am a potter. I make a wide range of pottery. It is mostly thrown on the wheel but a lot of it has decorative or sculptural elements.
What’s your background? Briefly describe your path of becoming an artist.
I studied pottery under Dean Schwarz at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. As a student at Luther, I was required to take an art class. My wife, who was then my girlfriend, encouraged me to take a pottery class. I became an art major shortly after that and took all the pottery classes I could during the remainder of my college years and continued to take pottery classes after graduation.
What do you enjoy most about being an artist? What part of your process do you most enjoying doing?
I enjoy the creative freedom of being an artist. I enjoy the whole process of making pottery but the magic of the fire and seeing the pots as I take them out of the kiln still amazes me every time.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the world around me. I live in a beautiful valley and much of what goes onto my pots are inspired by the nature that surrounds me.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
One of my favorite responses was at an art fair. A man was walking down the opposite side of the street and saw one of my large sculptural pieces and came running over to see it exclaiming the whole time that it was the most amazing piece he had ever seen. Another favorite was a girl who was probably about 12 years old who came into my booth at an art fair and was just so excited to look at everything I had on display.
Describe what we’ll see when we come to your studio. How do we get to your studio/Tour location?
You will see a lot of highly decorative but still functional pottery. You will also see some pieces that are less functional that, while still being pottery, lean more toward sculpture.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I worked at a group home for adults with mental disabilities for 4 years and then I taught special education for 19 years.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Keep working on your art. Never be satisfied with where you are artistically. You always need to strive to improve.
More about the Northeast Iowa Artists' Studio Tour:
The Northeast Iowa Artists' Studio Tour is a unique opportunity to explore artists studios for an intimate look into their creative process and a chance to purchase their newest works right out of the kiln, hot off the presses, paint freshly cured...you get the point! This year, you can experience 51 artists at 38 locations while also taking in the charm of Northeast Iowa's small communities, local fare, and the breathtaking scenery of the Driftless. Each artist is different, but they all share a passion for imagination and each one welcomes their guests with gusto. Visit the Tour's website to download a brochure, map, or GPS coordinates for each location.