I first came across Chris Long‘s pottery at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar.
I was drawn to it by the hand crafted elements and simplicity and eager to meet the artist behind the work. A few weeks later we met Chris at his studio—an unassuming space hidden among Austin’s east side.
Ceramicist and Drummer
“Just do what makes you happy.”
Chris mentions that he probably would not have pursued art had he not be given the chance to draw on the walls of his childhood bedroom. (Let that be a lesson to parents out there). As an only child he had to entertain himself, and found happiness in creating. He started to experiment with ceramics in high school, finding ease in working with his hands and making functional art. The fact that he could use something that he had made completely opened up his experience. He continued honing his skills at ACC, though he dabbled in graphic design for practical reasons. A close professor told him, “just do what makes you happy,” which sounds simple enough, but offered some poignant life advice for Chris moving forward.
These days, Chris balances his work with his other passion, music. Both music and art fulfill separate needs within him. He plays drums in the band Hikes and tours at least half of the year. Music keeps him in motion, “it’s what’s happening right now,” and makes him feel alive. On the other side of the spectrum is pottery, which he calls a “slow-burn” and allows him the solitude he needs to continually create. Both still involve putting yourself out there. Chris considers sharing your work as the final process to his art making because before that “the shit just lives in your head.” He said he got over it out of necessity, it is his job after all. The goal is for more people to have handmade pottery. “I want my work to be affordable and approachable, not intimidating. It’s made to be used.” For him, it’s more important that it goes out into the world.
Chris has reached the point in his life which all creatives strive for—independence. This does not mean the hustle is something of the past, it just means he can enjoy it. “You can get used to living off of nothing,” he shares, which is worth it when you wake up and can choose exactly how you’d like to spend your day. Chance also defines his process, whether it’s through learning new skills for a commissioned work or adapting to a new space, “I do what I have to do to make it work.” He further explains that as an artist, creativity must leak into how you structure your life—from the lifestyle you lead to how you provide for yourself, “You have to be creative and crafty and imaginative in how you string your fucking life together.” He calls it a means without an end. The goal is simply to create for the sake of creating. That’s enough for him.