At MODERNBEAST, we are always working to offer products with a clean, modern aesthetic, beast friendly and Made in the USA. And our BEAST BOWLS, made by Joshua Bailey, owner of Marina Del Clay in Venice, CA, are the perfect example of everything we look for.
Joshua throws each BEAST BOWL by hand, one at a time on a pottery wheel. His passion and creativity, rooted in tradition, has a distinctly modern flare. His attention to perfection is evident in everything he creates. Our beasts love their new BEAST BOWLS, and we love how they look as well as the fact that we can just toss them in the dishwasher. Check out Joshua’s other stunning creations at marinadelclay.com.
We spoke with Joshua about his art, pups, and more. Enjoy!
MB: First of all, thank you for doing the interview, Joshua. We know you are incredibly busy, so this means a lot. As an artist, why were you attracted to working with clay? How were you exposed to – how did you learn - this amazing art form?
Joshua: It seems odd that I am busy at this time but to tell you the truth, I have never been producing more than I am now. I suppose some of it has to do with our pandemic situation, but during this time there is also less temptation and social engagements happening. Freeing up time for art, music, or whatever we have all been putting off.
I was first introduced to clay in high school. There was a one kick wheel (non-electric) in the art room and the teacher showed me the basics. Before long I was measuring the inside of the dusty kiln we had to see how big I could make things. Not to date myself, but this was pre-internet. There was no YouTube or any means of instruction other than figuring it out on your own. My art teacher knew a little bit but I surpassed her in skill pretty quickly. Honestly I just got it right away.
I have taught classes and many studios here in LA for a few years and some people just pick it up quicker than others. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely not easy and everyone struggles, myself included, but some just get it faster than others. It’s really all about following basic instructions and guidelines of physics. There’s no box around what you consider art, but there is definitely structural support that needs to be tended to. Being a hands-on or DIY kind of person helps tremendously. As well as being able to visualize a finished product before you have even started.
So to answer your question directly, I learned pretty much on my own. I excelled my senior year when I was given the art room an hour a day by myself. Without distractions (which was nothing compared to today) I was able to focus, or ‘flow’ as some people call it. Also looking back on how vintage that setup was and an extreme lack of tools, I learned the old fashioned way. Mostly by experimentation.
MB: What inspires you in your work?
Joshua: What inspired my work then was anything out of the ordinary, a lot of nature, and bold colors and shapes. What inspires my work now is perfecting the things I have learned along the way, and a lot of international travel. People work with clay all over the world. And they have done it for thousands of years. There are not a lot of professions you can say that about.
Seeing pieces from B.C. (Or BCE) that have perfect symmetry and are still standing is a pretty unique experience. All art forms from ancient times are, but rarely are they so similar to what is made today. I can’t imagine having to learn chemistry, firing, and physics before those were even common terms.
MB: Do you currently have any beasts in your life?
Joshua: I have no beasts in my life at the moment. I lived abroad for several years before moving back here to live on a sailboat (hence, Marina Del Clay). Most docks won’t allow liveaboard boat residents to have pets. Which I understand considering how much sound travels on the water.
I recently moved to dry land after my most recent trip to Asia. The idea was to resurrect an old guest house as a live/work space, leaving less time commuting and money spent, and more time for travel. The studio and tiny house are complete but unfortunately travel is a distant dream at the moment. I suppose it could be done but given the circumstances it seems better to wait.
I also have only had a motorcycle for the past decade. Which plays a part in what kind of beast one can acquire. It can be done but given the other challenges I thought it better to wait. Whenever I have a cabin in the mountains I’ll think about a creature friend joining the team.
MB: While we know everyone will want your Beast Bowls, your work for humans is equally stunning. Where can folks find your work? And how could someone commission your work?
Joshua: You can find my finished pieces for sale on my website marinadelclay.com. I was also doing the farmers market in the Marina on Saturdays as well as local art fairs and shows but that has been put to a halt in recent months unfortunately. It has given me a chance to focus my energy more to online sales. The tech/marketing/branding world has never been a good friend of mine but I try to embrace it as much as I can as business evolves. My goal is to be primarily online eventually. (Back to that cabin dream...) but what I have now is more than sufficient. I rarely set an alarm clock. I never drive to work. That sounds like success to me. Especially in the art world in Los Angeles.
To be honest, I get more inquiries and custom orders from Instagram than anywhere else. Most of the time people will see what I am making and want a variation of that. Right now it is just me, but I try to entertain every idea people throw my way. It’s exciting to see someone else’s vision and collaborate. It changes things up and keeps it interesting.
MB: What is the best part of being a maker?
Joshua: The best part about being a maker is taking materials from the earth and making something with your hands that will last a thousand years or more.