Rainbows, dancing cacti, illustrated animals: the work of Philadelphia-based Jarmél by Jarmel just makes us happy, ok? Get a peek at what goes into each piece in our studio visit.
Photos by CJ Harvey
Can you introduce yourself — tell us more about who you are, where you’re from, and what you do …
My name is Jarmel, I'm from Philly, and i mostly do ceramics. I do illustrations and paint signs. I make art to earn my happiness, and functional ceramics to earn my way. I put art on my art.
How did you first get into ceramics?
I spent a lot of time making things with modeling clay as a kid and my love for creating things that way never went away. My first ceramics class was in 7th grade and I fell in love with that instead of some boy. I spent a lot of time with it in high school, took a break, and then picked it back up again 4 years ago and can't really put it down. For a few years I was trying to figure out what I really wanted to concentrate on for my career. I thought I wanted to be a personal gardener, but would get too emotional when I'd go back to my hard work not being watered properly. I wanted to hand paint signs and do screen printing, but instantly had a hard time working with people on the ideas in their head. While I was going through this process of figuring things out I was doing a lot of ceramics because it's what made me really happy. It took me like 2 years to be like "oh snap, this is what I'm supposed to be doing." Now I just work on the ideas in my head.
What themes do you like exploring in your work (curious about the idea behind the rainbows and other repeated motifs comes from!)
I really love illustration and it's important that i can incorporate that into my ceramics. I enjoy adding colors, rainbows, sunshine, and joyful things to everyday stuff that we use or get to see. I love giving "mean" animals a new reputation....having an alligator hold a balloon or having a snake be in love with a frog on a coffee mug seems like an important thing to me. I've always been inspired by Pennsylvania Dutch hex signs. I've been creating creatures and little worlds in illustration for a long time and I really enjoy smooshing them into functional things. I love when things, like a planter or a sponge holder, get to come to life and just be there, living life with you. I like to incorporate captions...sometimes it will come from something I'm glazing or sometimes I'll glaze something inspired by it. I enjoy making things that evoke happiness.
I like to explore magical possibilities of the things all around us. And if something is beautiful and makes you feel good, glaze more than one on the same thing!!
What are some current projects you’re working on?
This week I am making a pinata for my nephews birthday party. He's 8 and I make one every year. I'm doing some exclusive planters for Field, which is an amazing pop-up plant and lifestyle shop in Philly. I'm working on some plates from the sizes of tiny to dinner. I watercolor a bunch of ideas and then try to glaze them on ceramics and I'm working on Mother's Day and summer time ideas now, so I'm hoping to have some new fun stuff soon! I am practicing getting really good at airbrushing. I'm gonna make 2 piece outfits in the very near future. I'm also working on some Jarmél By Jarmel commercials that have been growing in my head for a while with the help of the amazing Emily and Austin of Born Lucky Studios.
What’s a dream project for you ?
A dream project of mine would be to make an insane amount of tiles for someone's house. They would all be colorful and different. They would basically be everywhere. From inside to the tiled pool outside...possibly with a tiled waterslide...you'd go so much faster on it than any other slide. I'd love to do some murals, especially in Philly. I would also love to make a play. Making costumes, and a set, and trying to drive passion out of the people who are in it as well as those who are watching it. I don't want to be in it, I just want to create it. My fingers are crossed for Rose Luardo to be the star.
Who are some other artists (in any medium) who you look up to?
The artists that I look up to the most are the talented friends that surround me. I live in a house full of artist. My boyfriend Andy Black is an insane bass player and I get to hear him play with amazing friends like The Dove & The Wolf, Dominic Angelella, and The Outside Eyes (which I did the most recent album art for). I also live with James Labold who does really cool glass sculptures and some neon, and Cat Park who is always turning out new illustrations that are gorgeous. My friend Tyler Held is a mad legit artist who is the head sculpture painter for Jeff Koons, but I like Tyler's art a lot more. Greg Labold's whole life is an art project and he's the most inspiring person on the planet as well as an incredible comic maker and screen printer. Jon Bobby Benjamin is an fabulous illustrator. Dan Hughes just keeps getting better. Alison Lee Chapman does the most detailed and beautiful watercolors. My friend Jesse Hale Moore just put an album out that I can't stop listening to and everyone should listen to it rn. Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast is a brilliant woman to look up to! My friend Gabe Slavitt who currently lives in LA is one of my favorite artist. Nana Venter from Cape Town is one of the most talented artist I know. They're all doing such great things. And I wish Steve Powers was my friend, but I've been looking up to him for so long I feel like we're good pals. Actually, my neck hurts from looking up to him.
What advice do you have for others who are looking to begin their own creative endeavor but are unsure how to start? What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Start with your hands, or your voice, or your sick dance moves. Put yourself out there even if it's uncomfortable...which it is, and is one of the hardest things for me still. Keep creating and show the world- we want to see!!! Especially if you're a woman! The world needs more female artists. Some of the biggest lessons I've learned are not to compare yourself with anyone else's success. It really just gets in the way of who you are and makes it harder for you to become what you're meant to be. Instead concentrate on all the wonder going on in your mind and make those things come to life. Butterflies are caterpillars first and caterpillars don't all have the same lifespan. Some take a lot longer to become a butterfly.
What are some other current curiosities for you (related or unrelated to your work — things that generally have piqued your interest recently)
I've always loved to dance to hip hop, but recently I want to listen to classical music and learn some disciplined dance moves. I guess I want to learn some ballet so I can mix it with what I know now and make "Save The Last Dance" a real part of my life. Also, sci fi books written by women.
What are you looking forward to this season?
This will be my 3rd year trying to grow peanuts, so I'm looking forward to starting that process. Bike rides to the Wissahickon, baseball catch, leaving the city to go on hikes. I'm very excited about grilling with friends, backyard bonfires, working on my garden. Everything comes to life this season. It's important to be outside and be a part of it.