Nick Moen founded The Bright Angle as we know it today in 2016, but that is nowhere near the beginning. He first found his love of the craft as a child and the journey continues from there. Here, he tells the story...
I was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, taking classes at the Northern Clay Center and visiting the St. Croix Pottery Tour. This all helped foster my appreciation for ceramics. I took my first ceramics class as a freshman at Central High School in St. Paul Minnesota.
I got my BFA in Ceramics and Engineering at Alfred University where I initially thought I was going to study engineering, art, and design. It turns out that engineering just wasn’t incredibly stimulating for me. There typically weren’t enough dynamic solutions to problems, but rather one answer rooted in logic. I supposed I needed to find a way to create more problems for myself to solve. The heart of my creative practice has become problem solving - an easy thing to do with ceramics. (It’s pretty masochistic.) There are so many variables in the process, which I have become enamored with trying to figure out.
My work schedule often requires me to work late and on weekends to make sure that everything gets done and done well. In my time off I love to eat with friends, especially if it is a wood oven pizza party. I find it very important get outside to fish, paddle or hike to a favorite swimming hole or waterfall. When the weather is good we also take canoe trips down the French Broad River, which runs through Asheville.
I love to travel. I get a lot of ideas from being on the road, visiting many places, meeting lots of people and getting glimpses of their lifestyles. I have travelled to 48 states in the past 6 years selling pots I had transported in the back of my Prius and teaching workshops. I ended up in Asheville, North Carolina because of the thriving community.
Western North Carolina has an amazing community of artists and makers who love to bring a digital design perspective to this epicenter of craftspeople. If I need anything made using nearly any craft material, I can look to my friends and neighbors, send my technical drawings, and have a precise object made in no time. Many of my friends have digital prototyping tools as well such as laser cutters, plasma cutters, CNC mills and lathes. Being invested in a network of master craftspeople that have a strong design mentality and a firm understanding of their materials has become central in my relationship to my studio practice.
Since moving to Asheville, I have spent 18 weeks at Penland working with incredible ceramic artists like Matt Kelleher, David Eichelberger, and Heather Mae Erickson. I have completed a number of residencies - most notably at Penland School of Craft and a 3 year residency at Odyssey Clayworks in Asheville, which greatly helped me develop my business strategy. Additionally, I have taught many ceramics and design workshops across the country.
By this point, I had started my career as a studio potter. One of my first projects was organizing dinners at restaurants with a number of other artists to offer a handmade dining experience. Presently, my focus is bridging the gap between design and craft by adding digital technology to the practice of the studio craftsperson. I am a collaborative design facilitator that inspires American craftspeople to design and produce innovative kitchen and home decor goods.
In 2014 I was simply a studio potter slipcating porcelain pottery and driving across the country in my Prius packed with pots to sell my work at craft fairs. I know there had to be more to it. Pots are undervalued in 21st century America due to the masterfully efficient systems that are able to manufacture ceramics at dirt cheap prices across the globe. So, what could I make that would utilize my love for design, craft, and technology and showcase the intrinsic value of porcelain, a.k.a. White Gold? This is precisely thought process that brought us The Bright Angle.