Enjoy the portfolio of versatile artist Andrew Montrie, who sells his own work and also promote other artists.
ABI: Tell us how you got started as an artist.
AM: When I was very young, I was enthralled with the idea of making things. I was often in my parents’ garage with nails and duct tape. I was about 12 years old when I discovered clay at a small pottery in Maryland. In high school, I focused on learning to throw at the potter’s wheel, learning both American and Asian techniques from my gifted instructor, Arline Ferris. I continued my exploration in clay at Frostburg State University under the instruction of professor Jackie Brown while earning a degree in economics.
ABI: How has your work changed over the years?
AM: Working in the craft industry, there is often opportunity to learn and collaborate with other artists. I am always seeking to nourish these experiences and delve deeper into other mediums. I have worked in a silversmith’s shop, as a brick mason, glass blower, landscaper, house builder, in marketing, and in retail. Each job gave me more than just the ability to buy more clay. As I learn to bend and form metal, cut and smooth wood, and heat and bend glass, I absorb the feeling, motions and techniques for later use with the clay. Clay has this amazing ability to react to each new technique or idea and become something completely different.
At some point after college I realized that my work was lacking a consistent thread that made it uniquely mine. I started to brand my work with a loop consisting of a small bit of extruded clay turned back on itself. I use it for handles, on vases and most notably, in an ornament line I have designed and continue to produce. At about the same time I realized I needed a website to promote my work. I spent hundreds of hours on Lynda.com learning how to build and market my site. I studied Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver and still love working on all sorts of digital projects.
Though my work in clay continues to evolve, the biggest change to my work in craft has become my collaboration with other artists. My downtown Asheville artists’ market, Asheville Art in the Park, is now in its fifth year. Artists have made over $700,000 at the market. This year there are over 150 member artists. Artists interested in becoming members to vend in the market can visit the website for more information.
ABI: These days, you wear a lot of hats. What else are you involved in?
AM: Last year I opened The UpDraft, a collaborative gallery space in downtown Asheville representing only local artists. This month I am hosting a show by the Western Carolina Sculptors Guild entitled “One Cubic Foot”. The show runs through the first week of November. If you stop by to visit Friday and Saturday nights, you will often find me in front of the lampworking torch.
Just recently, I have become the Southeastern representative for the Buyers Market of American Craft. This market is where you will find the best artists showcasing to buyers from galleries all over the country. I am honored to be chosen as their first regional representative of the American Made Show.