STORY BY RACHEL SCHWARTZMANN – SHOP Martina Thornhill– PHOTOS BY NICHOLAS PETER WILSON FOR THE STYLE LINE
Sincerity is top of mind for Portland-based ceramic artist Martina Thornhill.
Whether this idea extends to her professional work or her personal style, our featured interviewee is all about keeping it real. Coupling these efforts with her distinct artistic point of view, we’re not surprised that Martina has found success in all aspects of her life. As she explained in our interview below, “The physical objects of art we create should be an extension of the art of living. They can emphasize the good parts or the bad parts or whatever feels most true at the time, but if they are separate or disparate, I think it the insincerity is noticeable. When working on new pieces, I try to keep the importance of sincerity in mind. Am I trying too hard? Am I forcing the work in a direction that doesn’t feel natural or organic in order to fit in with some certain trend? Listening to that inner voice is so important…”
Speaking more to the above, this has proven to hold true for Martina, as evidenced in her beloved collection of plates, mugs, and other interior objects – all of which are tied together with signature design elements including a neutral speckled pattern and her unique play on textures. Not to mention that Martina’s consistently thoughtful design process has helped to cultivate a growing online following of individuals around the globe who constantly champion her work. Even still, Martina remains grounded and contends that at the end of the day it’s all about doing what feels right as an artist. “I feel like many new makers start from the other direction, and I know that I did at first too,” she explained. “It wasn’t until I ‘gave up’ on trying to force it and just started playing with clay for the fun of it that it organically grew into a business.”
To learn more, we recently visited Martina at her studio where she kindly showed us more of her process firsthand and shared her advice for the next generation of makers. Without giving too much away, discover our full conversation with Martina below, featuring exclusive images from our time captured by Nicholas Peter Wilson for The Style Line.
Formally, I’m a ceramicist
based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on hand built functional ware primarily using slab and coil construction, but in reality, I spend the vast majority of my time chasing my toddler child around. I enjoy spending as much time as possible outside and with my family, reading old sci-fi books, digging through thrift stores, gardening, obsessively throwing myself into new projects, and being creative wherever and however I can, whether it is creating art or helping Dodge make the most insane train track we can. I’ve always really valued the importance of actually living your life. Having it be comprised of the things that make you happy and filled with intentional time spent with family, friends, or alone. It doesn’t always work that way and much of the time I feel like I’m failing to meet the normal markers of what a successful adult person should be doing or have at this age, but becoming a mother really amplified how essential that intention and freedom is for my happiness and the happiness of my family. I heard the phrase “it’s important to be a human being, not a human doing” a few months ago and it’s become my new mantra for whenever I get caught up in the trap of being busy.