July 25, 2024


Art Shines Through

Peddling Skulls | Nicole Pangas | Episode 881

Peddling Skulls | Nicole Pangas | Episode 881

Nicole Pangas | Episode 881

Nicole Pangas is a full time artist and studio potter living and working in Detroit, Michigan. Nicole has been a studio artist for over 30 years, and an Etsy Seller since 2010. Nicole earned her BFA in ceramics, printmaking, and painting from The Cleveland Institute of Art. Nicole studied drawing and ceramics at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, and stone carving, poetry, and photography at the LaCoste School of Arts in LaCoste, France. Nicole moved to Detroit after her studies to become Artist-in-Residence at Pewabic Pottery where she also worked as master potter and ceramics instructor. Nicole’s work has encompassed the realms of printmaking, painting, collages, handmade tiles, sculpture, pottery, and drawing. Nicole was introduced to art first as a draftsman while in high school. She found her love of clay as an art major at the Cleveland Institute of Art.


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This time of the year skulls are amped up but how is it that skulls are seasonless? They are welcome any time of the year.

I mean, how do I say this, death is a part of our lives, like everyday and I think that everybody relates to it in their own way and sometimes it’s decorative and sometimes it’s ritual. I don’t know how to put it, it’s part of our everyday and it’s mortality, you know, there’s always war going on and illness, it’s just part of our cultures.

Are you a person who has a dark goth type of theme for your life or is it just the skulls?

(Laughter) It depends on the day. There is a darkness. My work was always dark. I( just was reminded my grandfather started a meat business in downtown Akron back in the fifties and he came over from Greece and so this meat plant was one step up from the slaughterhouse and he died pretty young and so my dad took it over. It was the family business. And so as kids we would run around this meat packing plant and there would be sides of beef in the cooler and always some kind of carcass around the house. This might be off-topic but you grow up in this realm of dead animals and meat. I don’t know, I think it just sort of snowballed and I think I had a lot of anxiety as a kid. My sister taught gross anatomy and would show my parts in the freezer and you know you study figure drawing and I think all these different little channels kind of came into my work.

Are you surprised at the success of your work? 

Yes and no. Sometimes I’m like, Wow, look what I do for a living. It’s kind of odd. Part of what I really like is meeting my buyers and I get to know what kind of pottery they like and what kind of skulls and glaze and why people are attracted to particular skulls. It’s really curious, it’s like a cultural investigation. Different societies have different skulls in their art and rituals, ceremonies, what not. I’m always drawn to all kinds of cultures. Anthropology was always interesting to me and architecture and you are dealing with spirits and the past and it’s all very interesting.

Why do you sell on Etsy?

So you know, Etsy has come under fire recently for their hike in fees and stuff like that and a lot of people have jumped ship from Etsy but I like Etsy because they take care of everything for me and I have been on there long enough and I have the whole thing down, it’s completely seamless for me. I just have to take the photos, make my listings, and sell and ship it and Etsy takes care of the buyer’s and seller’s protection, there’s all the regulatory stuff that happens, they take care of sales tax. If you are doing international shipping, all the customs, everything. They do it all. So I just feel like for me it’s completely seamless.

Do you still dress up for Halloween?

(laughter) Yes.

And what are you going to be this year?

I have a few weeks, I don’t know. (laughter) Good question.


The Collected Poems of Emily Dickenson


Etsy: NicolePangasCeramics

Instagram: @nicolepangas