Liz Pechacek is a Minneapolis-based ceramic artist with a foot in two worlds. She loves the humble intimacy of a mug, and the rich legacy of early historical traditions — especially Mimbres and Neolithic Chinese pottery.
Yet there’s nothing rigidly traditional about her work. Her approach to surface design, sometimes playful and sometimes starkly precise, feels more akin to contemporary illustration than a folksy, small-town art fair.
In late 2016, Liz decided she needed a new visual identity and website to convey that complex approach to craft.
Goals & Strategy
The biggest goal for the rebrand process was to broaden the audience for Liz Pechacek Ceramics to a younger generation of pottery enthusiasts: specifically, style-conscious individuals in search of an artfully curated life.
Liz and I knew that handmade ceramics are often hyped up as rareified, luxury finds in fashion-forward boutiques. We wanted to find a way for her branding to fit seamlessly into stores such as The Primary Essentials, Steven Alan, and Forage Modern Workshop.
With that said, Liz didn’t want to trade mainstream appeal for recognition at more traditional fine craft institutions (where much of her work is already sold). And she didn’t want curators to wonder if her retail ambitions had eclipsed her desire to produce ambitious, sculptural works of art.
So it was crucial for the branding to feel like an authentic reflection of pottery as a serious craft.
While brainstorming how to creatively approach these needs, I learned that there is a long tradition of using abstract marks to identify ceramic art.
Some artists rely on stamps to uniformly mark their own work, but Liz prefers to sign each of her pieces by hand (with her name and a intersecting matrix of lines), by dragging an X-Acto knife into the hardened clay of a semi-finished piece.
I asked Liz to draw me an example of that mark — and for permission to explore producing my own version: something that would feel clean and precise yet still reference the ancient handbuilding methods that she uses on a daily basis.
When the mark was finished, I paired it with Graviola Soft, a font designed by Brazilian graphic designer Henrique Beier under Harbor Type. With its ample, wide curves, it feels remarkably feminine, and some letters even appear to ape the silhouette of cafe mugs.
Web Design and Development
Liz needed to get a website off the ground relatively quickly, in advance of the trade show season that helps art entrepreneurs stay financially afloat. In addition, she needed the website to function just as well as an artist’s portfolio as an online store.
For these reasons (and Liz’s prior familiarity with the platform) we decided to launch the website on Squarespace.
Sanchez, used in headings, has beefy slab serifs that match the physicality of Liz’s hand-built, functional objects.
Soleil, a precise yet friendly font used in navigation and body copy, communicates the seriousness of Liz’s work as an artist.
Product Photos: Louisa May Photography
Film Stills: Guy Wagner
My Role: Identity Design, Web Design and Development