This week, the internet lit up with images of Seth Rogen’s most recent batch of ceramic vases. These psychedelically colored and shaped pots look vaguely alien-like with their pocks of radioactive yellows, reds, and greens. “I love the pink and black one,” wrote Roxane Gay on her Twitter. “Seth you are definitely having fun … very nice work,” David Crosby of Crosby, Stills & Nash confirmed. Other responses ranged from the dazzled to the horny.
One thing is certain though, no matter how much you might love Seth Rogen’s ceramics, you definitely don’t love them as much as Seth Rogen does. The Long Shot actor spoke with the Cut about his pottery practice, which he now has a dedicated home studio for, complete with two kilns, in his home in Los Angeles. And no, unfortunately, no Seth Rogen originals are up for sale (yet).
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
So tell me what it is about ceramics specifically that got your attention.
There’s something about how you’re literally trying to center something. [Laughs.] The metaphors abound. But there’s inherently something meditative about it. I do like tactile things; I like to produce tangible work. With movies, we spend years on them and then they’re very intangible. They don’t have weight, they don’t occupy a physical space. You used to at least get a DVD or a Blu-Ray, and you don’t even really get that anymore. I don’t like to keep my own movie posters around because those are just advertising for the product, not the product itself. I do really like being able to create an artistic expression that is a thing that I can pick up, hold, show to people. It is just so different from what I normally do which has no mass to it.
How would you describe your style of ceramics?
[Laughs.] I don’t know if I would. I mean right now, I’m experimenting. I don’t have a show that I’m working my way up to or anything. Which is also I think what’s such a joy about it. There’s a real microscope on the movies I make, and, well, I probably do more than I should, but making an experimental movie is not really something that people like to give you $30 million to make [in the] hope that people will maybe like it. But with this, it’s been fun because I can just explore and play around and try different things. If something turns out terribly, it’s not ultimately damaging to my overall reputation as a ceramicist. [Laughs.]
But honestly, one thing that I saw a lot of with pottery in general is earth tones. I’ve always just been drawn to very colorful art, for lack of a better way of categorizing it. I think very unnatural colors have been something that I’m very drawn to in pottery.
Right, I was going to ask why you thought this most recent photo you posted really grabbed the internet’s attention specifically. My guess was the bold colorways.
Yeah, I think that of all the things I’ve posted, it seems like the most cohesive grouping of work. It is not a style I created by any means, but it’s a style that I really like because there’s a hand-touch to it. It’s impossible to recreate any one of those exactly, and that’s what I personally think is interesting about it. Also, I think that if you’re in the ceramics world, it’s a style that you’re probably familiar with, but if you’re not deeply entrenched in the world of ceramics, it’s maybe just something that you haven’t seen that much of. Most ceramics that have proliferated in our society are very neutral in color.
Is there a name for the style you used in those pieces?
I don’t know if there is a name for it actually. There’s an abrasive element to it, but it’s just honestly a really poor man’s version of what Ken Price is doing.
Interesting. How so?
His process is honestly somewhat mysterious, and I don’t think there’s documentation of him achieving the effects. But from my understanding, he used up to 75 layers of what I think was car paint. Then he somehow stripped away layers of it in a method that is truly bewildering. Especially if you yourself have tried to strip away layers of paint from a ceramic piece. The way that effect is achieved is truly beyond my understanding.
Who else do you look to in the visual arts?
In high school, my friends did graffiti, so I grew up reading Juxtapoz magazine, so honestly guys like Barry McGee and KAWS and Banksy were the first artists that, when I was a teenager, I was paying attention to. As I get older, I still love their work, I love Ai Weiwei, I love Keith Haring. Sean Landers is an artist I really love. Mark Ryden, I’ve loved his work for a really long time.
From a cursory glance at your Instagram, I see that you follow a lot of tags of different types of glazing, firing, etc. It’s pretty amazing the breadth of technique in ceramics.
I think it’s a sign of a good art form. There’s unlimited possibilities. Which is also frustrating! It’s a similar thing I have with movies, honestly, where the more you learn about an art form the less you feel you know about it. I’m about to take a three month online glazing workshop, which just shows how little I know about glazing. It’s very flattering that people have responded to my work and that I’m able to bring attention to this thing that not a ton of people have paid attention to, even though it’s one of the oldest art forms on the planet. But it’s embarrassing how little I truly know about how to achieve great achievements in the art form. To that end, it’s amazing when you’re able to see someone who’s able to carve out a niche. To me, and to a lot of ceramicists I think, Ken Price is like a Picasso. He’s someone who was able to blow the whole thing wide open.
So do you have any ambitions to sell your pieces? Or are they staying close to home? Do you give them as gifts? I imagine you have a critical mass of them by now.
I give them away, I trade them with other ceramicists and other artists from time to time. Which is an incredible way to acquire things. I currently have no plans … Honestly I’ve been approached by galleries. But I don’t know what to say! It’s such a bizarre thing for me to wrap my head around right now: how to incorporate commerce into this at this moment. Which is why I’m much more comfortable if people just reach out to me and are like “Hey, this is great!” and I’ll send them one. Or if an artist or ceramicist comments on one of my things, I’ll say, “Wanna swap me a drawing?”
I mean, how many pieces do you think you have in your home right now?
That’s the other thing. I don’t know how other artists reconcile this. I have a really hard time deciding which ones I’m even willing to part with at this moment. They are very personal to my growth, you know what I mean? If I have a bad one that I don’t think represents my abilities, I don’t want to give it away. But if I have a great one that I truly think epitomizes what I’m trying to achieve, I don’t want to give that away!
That sounds like a sign that you really actually care about your art.
I do! And I think I’m still in a phase where I’m so enamored with the novelty that I’m creating something physical that I can use and interact with. I put flowers in my vases! I rest my joints in my ashtrays! I don’t think I’ve gotten over that. I’ve never had a particular affinity towards any things, and now I’m creating vases that I really actually love.