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En Iwamura Wants to Grab Your Attention with Bright Color and Dark Humor


Age: 29

Hometown: Kyoto

AMACO product he can’t live without:

LUG Underglaze-Black!!! Thank you every time. 

Five favorite examples of Japanese culture in his work:

1) Haniwa figure 2) Jomon pots 3) Comic Culture (Examples: Osam Tezuka, Shigeru Sugiura) 4) Kids Books (Examples: Shinta Cho, Maki Sasaki) 5) Video Games like Megaman

Ceramic artist En Ewamura works mainly with large-scale, coil-built sculptures intended for installation spaces. The surfaces of his work come alive with a combination of bright patches of color and beautiful graphic imagery.

After he demoed at our NCECA booth back in March, En made a big impression on AMACO’s Video Production Coordinator, and ceramic artist, Arielle Day. 

“To build as quickly and efficiently as En does, you have to trust your hands and the clay body,and be comfortable and confident. He’s one of those people who clearly possesses a lot of natural talent but also works really hard at what he does.”

When were you first interested in working in clay? 

When I was 18 years old, I failed the entrance exam to the drawing major at Art school; then I enrolled in the Craft major. I had no idea about clay and craft. When I had to choose my focus, my Ceramics professor told us “There are so many ceramic artists in the world, and you have almost no chance to be a professional artist.” It sounded so mean, but so attractive and challenging for me.

Where do you find inspiration for your work? 

Inspirations of form, color, and subjects of drawings from both American and Japanese historical and pop cultures surround my life. Through my investigation, I try to understand and process the atmosphere of the world in which I exist. And with using little flares of humorous expression. My idea of humor is not only funny or cute but dark. I am not good at talking about serious topics. I try to make people laugh first but also make things weird. I try to make stories (more) funny.

Which artists influence your work and life? 

There are so many artists. First one might be my both parents (who are) painters. I grew up at their studio space. If I can mention only one from the ceramic art field, it would be Jun Kaneko, who inspired me to come to the United States. When I was in Japan as a third-year undergraduate student, I wrote an email to him asking to visit his studio. He wrote me back that I could visit him any time. It was my first trip to the US. He welcomed me even though he didn’t know me. He is super famous for his scale. His work is sometimes eight feet tall. Before I came, I had an idea that ceramics were just small pieces. His studio is enormous, more like four building. So inspiring for me. He was generous and kind even though he was famous. Absolutely, he changed my world of art.

What is most challenging about being a professional artist in the ceramic field? 

I am still a young emerging artist. I am always seeking to get more opportunities to show my works. I think we have a huge gap between fine art and ceramic art.  My challenge is finding the breakthrough between those two fields.

What is most rewarding about working with clay? 

When I came to the United States, I could not speak any English. However, I could communicate with people through my artwork. Ceramics is another international language which (enables me) to speak with people from different countries and cultural backgrounds. Every day I meet many new artist friends and my world is expanding. Ceramic art is definitely opening my world wider and wider.

Do you work with other mediums and does that work overlap with your ceramics?

Recently, I (started) using painted wood and metals in my installation work. The contrast of texture and color reinforces the character of ceramics, (making it) stronger.

Any advice for someone looking to pursue a career in the arts? 

There are so many ceramic cultures in the world and everything is so unique. I advise myself as well. A ceramic artist should be flexible. Do not (be) afraid (to make) mistakes. Ceramics are not easy materials to work with. Mistakes and errors allow you to find new approaches to completing the work. I’ve never made masterpieces— so all my pieces are test tiles for me.That is my attitude. When I make something, my mind is always going to the next one. And travel a lot. I have learned this from many great artists. 

What AMACO products do you return to that inform your work? 

When I was in Japan, I had no idea of bright color in ceramic art. Usually Japanese people use high-fire glazes that (result in) a very calm color. When I came to the United States, I was shocked by the variety of textures, colors and expressions.  When I draw something on the body of ceramic, AMACO products (help me) to be free and prevent a lot of technical issues. Working with AMACO products reminds me to keep challenging (myself for) something new.

En's work can also be found here: