The Story of Growlerfest | Brad Klem | Episode 362

Brad Klem | Episode 362

Bradley Klem has lived much of his life in Arizona and was first introduced to clay while studying painting at Arizona State University. Since completing his undergraduate degree in 2014 with a focus on ceramics Brad has been regularly exhibiting his work in national and international exhibitions as well as hosting workshops and presentations across the U.S. In 2015 he partnered with Alexandra Jelleberg to co-found, coordinate and direct “GrowlerFest 2015 East and West.” As a founding director of GrowlerFest it is his aim to emphasize the link between the craft brewery movement and the vitality of handmade pottery. Currently he is an MFA candidate at Penn State University.


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From your perspective what is creativity?

Creativity is the ability to think about things in a different way. It is the ability to question the world around us and to visually or audible, in some form that is not a typical way of communicating those ideas and those questions.

How does innovation interplay with creativity? 

It is interesting because I think that sometimes as artists we are sort of given this ultimatum to innovate or perish. And I think it is really motivated by an industrial or commercial way of thinking and I think that by being creative in some ways you are already innovative.

How do you merge two ideas together when you collaborate without one becoming the boss of the other?

Well, I think it depends on who you are working with, you know. Sometimes it just doesn’t work. You need to mesh well. I don’t know, I guess my answer in some ways is that it doesn’t always work and sometimes it does. I did a collaborative piece with Stephen Mer and I look back at that one as being extremely successful. The cool thing about it is when you have a really successful collaboration you end up learning a lot from the person that you collaborated with. So she made these pots and sent them to me in the mail and I decorated them. I learned so much just from the form she created and the surface that she created and intrinsically there was this problem for me to solve, a different surface, you know. Because I had to work around that it changed my work.

Can creativity be something that a person can be trained in or trained towards?

Oh man, I think that is such an awesome question and I’m not sure. I hope so. I think that is what a good art teacher tries to do and it is what I try to do with my students to get them to think outside of the box, to think for themselves, to question things. I suppose that is what art school should be about. But yeah, how do you teach someone to be creative? I don’t know. I am working on it.

What is something that has you frustrated about creativity right now?

I’m frustrated a little bit by galleries and installations and I’m frustrated about making objects and then making displays for those objects and where does one stop and the other begin. When does it become installation and no longer an object? I think I am at this point in grad school where I am frustrated with a lot of things. (laughter) You now what’s really frustrating is finding enough time in the day to do all the things that you want to do.

What is something you are really stoked about in your creativity?

So I just started some brand new work. I have scaled up the size of it and just trying out new things. Changing the things that I’m doing and just playing with the clay a little bit. That’s exciting.

You mentioned earlier you and your dad would go fishing. What is the best fish to go fishing for?

Oh man, trout. I think trout. Pound for pound they fight the hardest. They are acrobatic. They often come clear out of the water doing flips. They are beautiful. They are delicious.


Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein 


Instagram: @bradleyklemceramics

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