October 25, 2014

Maker's Mark Bios: Erik McNish EM

At Portland Growler Company we partner with studios that care about nurturing their employees creative passions. Our ceramic production partner, Mudshark Studios exemplifies this sort of partnership. The creative endeavors, experience and contributions of each member of the team that produces our growlers can be seen in each and every growler they make. Take a look at the bottom of your growler to see the initials of that growler's maker; maker's marks are our way of helping you put a face with a name and show you what true handcrafted quality means to us. We recently visited with our team at Mudshark and we asked each artist the same questions about life, beer, and art and we'll be introducing you to them here.

Meet Erik McNish. Erik trims our growlers once they're removed from the molds. If you see the initials 'EM' on the bottom of your growler, Erik is the guy who made it. 


Name: Erik McNish 

Hometown: Born in Seward, Alaska, but grew up in Portland.

Education/Life Experience:  I started playing with clay (dirt too) as a little kid. I took quite a few ceramics courses in the 80's at Portland Community College, then joined the Army in 90. After 8 years in the military and a few more years trying to find work that didn't make me crazy, I went back to school.  That was in 2004 and I have been working with clay full time since then. I've had a few fantastic teachers:  Allison Bain and Charles Washburn for ceramics and Rick True for sculpture.

What’s Your Favorite Beer or Beverage to Fill Your Growler with?

McRogue Scotch Ale from Rogue Brewery. They only make it once a year as far as I know.  

Why do you like working in clay?

Isn’t that a funny question? I don't know how to answer that… it’s… it’s just what I have always done. And when I don’t do it I am not happy. It’s what makes coming to work ok; it's all about the clay.

What are your goals as an artist/maker?

Well, as an artist… I don’t really consider myself an artist. But as a craftsman, I would like to continue practicing and to be able to make pottery and sculpture that stands on its own.  Just to make something that people like, admire and want to own. I want the pot to speak for itself.  Here at Mudshark, I am devoted to making this institution profitable and helping this place achieve a reputation for high quality work. I want to make Mudshark famous and I’m not going to quit until that happens.

Favorite Spot to get your growler filled?

I don't really have a favorite I like to try new places. I'll fill my growler wherever I am that has something tasty on tap.

If you could share a growler fill with anyone in the world (alive or dead) who would it be and why?

Wow! (long pause) There are a few, but I guess my first two choices are Vincent Van Gogh and the Dalai Lama.

I have a feeling that talking to Van Gogh was probably like watching a train wreck.  I want to see if those glimpses of brilliance we get from his paintings come through in his personality and conversation. Maybe they were only apparent when he closed his mouth and picked up a brush. I feel he and I might be similar.  I can see myself in his self portraits sometimes.  A socially awkward, manic, pain in the butt.  I wish I was as good with clay as he was with paint!

I'd like to hang out with the Dali Lama too.  I'd like to see if I could sponge off some his inner peace and wisdom that  I seem to be lacking.  That and I saw a video of him telling a fart joke once.  The man is hysterically funny.