Diving Deep into the World of Ceramics with Christopher Scamehorn
An Affair with Clay: Chris Scamehorn's Origin Story
For Christopher Scamehorn, affectionately known as Chris, art is more than just a career – it's a lifelong passion. As a renowned artist, Chris has spent a significant portion of his life working and molding clay, leaving his unique imprint on the world of ceramics.
Born and raised in the small town of Union, Michigan, Chris discovered the allure of clay at a tender age. His fascination started when he first experienced clay in school, compelling him to bring some home in his pockets. "It was so familiar to me," Chris recalls. "Over time, I realized that this is not the first life that I have made art out of clay."
The rest, as they say, is history. Under the tutelage of the same art teacher from 1st to 12th grade, Chris found his true calling in clay. He spent the next 11 years pursuing an Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's degree in Fine Arts, focusing on Ceramics.
However, art school, while a great experience, didn't provide him with the financial literacy required to monetize his passion. Chris had to navigate this facet of his career mostly on his own. "Art school doesn't really teach how to financially make a living doing it," he shared during our interview.
Constructing a Notable Career in Ceramics
Chris's journey to becoming a recognized ceramic artist is a testament to his perseverance and dedication. Over the past 23 years, he has painstakingly invested in equipment and established a studio gallery, with several incarnations in Makanda, Illinois, and Fairfield, Iowa, before finally settling in the Pacific Northwest at the end of 2013.
In the Pacific Northwest, Chris became a ceramics lab tech at Shorline Community College and a teacher at both Everett Community College and Seward Park Clay Studio. Apart from teaching, he has been using his home studio to create unique ceramic pieces and selling them at Pike Place Market since 2019.
The Stratascape Series: A Signature Blend of Art and Imagination
Perhaps what sets Chris apart from other ceramic artists is his unique "Stratascape" series. For the past 13 years, he has been meticulously crafting these remarkable mugs that meld colored clays to produce a marbled effect. Chris described his style as "from the heart, technically complex, and imaginative."
Inspired by his surroundings, Chris added scenes to the base of the mugs over the years, using the marbled effect to depict the skies in these scenarios. "I had never seen this done before, but it's what I kept seeing in my designs," he explained.
Connecting with the Audience
Engaging with his audience is an integral part of Chris's creative process. He has made it his mission to educate the public about the intricate process of creating art. While at Pike Place Market, he conducts live demonstrations, allowing people to witness art in action. "There are parts of my making process that I can do at the market so the general public can watch and see art in action," Chris stated. When he throws on the wheel, it always draws in a crowd, helping him make sales.
Looking Towards the Future: Glow-in-the-Dark Glaze and Large-Scale Murals
As for his future plans, Chris intends to take his art to new heights. He aims to create large-scale murals and incorporate his recently developed glow-in-the-dark glaze, which interacts with laser pointers and any light source. He is also planning to teach workshops and classes from his home studio in West Seattle.
Overcoming the Challenges of the Art World
Like many artists, Chris's biggest hurdle has been transforming his passion into a financially viable career. However, he found a way to circumvent this by selling his art at Pike Place Market. This strategy allowed him to avoid the typical 50% gallery commission and keep the majority of the sales from his creations.
His advice to emerging artists? Follow your heart and imagination. As he puts it, "I didn't copy anyone. I followed my heart and imagination, which led me to where I am now as a successful entrepreneurial artist."