Born on the East Coast and now residing on the West, Vanessa Lang is the artist behind Wade Studio. Her line features thoughtful, meticulously crafted, and artfully organic ceramics and floral designs. We visited Vanessa (and her magical munchkin cat, Walter) in her home studio in the Seattle, drank sparkling water, and talked ceramics. She has since moved to Los Angeles and currently is in the process of setting up her new studio.
Photography by Rachael Lang and Vanessa Lang
How did you get started as a ceramic artist and designer? Tell us about your collaborations with jewelry designer Rachel Ravitch and other Seattle based artists and makers.
I started experimenting with clay a few years ago after meeting multimedia-artist Aleksandra Pollner. She was selling these porcelain fortune cookies and I would sand them in exchange for slip casting lessons. I carved out a little studio zone at my apartment and started playing around with different techniques and designs. I would ask a million questions at the pottery supply store and do a lot of self-educating online. I love letting my imagination run wild, my house is filled with way too many ceramic knick-knacks.
I met Rachel Ravitch when I was interviewing her for a designer feature for a boutique’s blog. She immediately struck me as a smart, generous person. We became friends and I started assisting her in the studio, making jewelry around the same time I started experimenting with ceramics. She suggested we collaborate on a few necklace designs incorporating porcelain beads. I love the result of our combined aesthetics. Working with Rachel really has inspired me to start my own line.
Describe your studio practice. What does a typical day in the studio look like for you? Do your day jobs inform your practice at all?
Studio practice = NPR, podcast, or music (I’m no fan of silence and will have music or the radio on in every room of my house), sketches and a list of what I want to achieve that day, sparkling water, and snacks, an organized studio and my phone in a different room. I like to have a specific purpose and think about new designs, problem solving, and supplies I need throughout the day. I keep a lot of lists and doodles that I may or may not look at again.
Developing a strong work ethic is key to any studio practice. I’ve had a lot of day jobs: artist assistant, florist, café manager, shoe salesman, farmer… I could keep going. Every job I‘ve had has forced me to adapt and grow in some way or another.
Who and what is inspiring you currently?
My friends who are artist and designers, their creativity is a constant inspiration. For visual references, I’m all over the map: ancient Greek vessels, the home décor aisle at thrift stores, mid-century architecture, spending time in nature and, of course, Instagram is a good time thief. The Wabi-Sabi aesthetic has also really informed my work. Each piece I make is unique, the handmade quality and quiet imperfections imbue each piece with character and warmth. In a world of mass-produced materialism and non-stop media, there is a calming and grounding force to a handmade object.
What is next for the line?
I recently moved to LA and in the process of setting up my studio and getting my bearings in my new city. I also have planter and recreational accessory designs in the works. I’m really good at procrastinating and it took me forever just to start an Instagram account, a website is my next step.