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Spirit Profiles

Animal Spirit Profiles: Martina Thornhill

Martina Thornhill and the Deer card from The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit

We interviewed and photographed Portland creatives we admire to find out a little bit more about their work.


Martina Thornhill: Deer


Martina is a self-taught ceramicist who builds functional vessels — think mugs, plates, pour-overs and incense holders — in organic shapes filled with personality. The power of her work comes from her dedication to consider each object she creates as individual in its own right, always incorporating her own experiences as inspiration. Arriving in our studio only four days after the birth of her son, Dodge, her absolute gentleness and compassion embodied the receptive and nurturing energy of the Deer.

  1. What is your medium? Ceramics 
  2. Where do you find inspiration? Road trips, old books, folk art, nature. When I'm really feeling stuck I'll go through a list of students from the Black Mountain College and study their work during that period, playing connect the dots with their colleagues until my brain feels re-energized. 
  3. What's your biggest struggle as an artist? Maintaining momentum. 
  4. How do you rise up against that struggle? I try to keep a regular studio schedule to force myself to work even when I'm not feeling motivated. Creating deadlines and agreeing to projects with deadlines to keep myself focused and productive. 
  5. Do you have a secret talent or super power? My work ethic. When it comes to meeting a production challenge I can't be stopped. Ill work from 8am to 3amnonstop for weeks when I'm trying to reach a goal. It's a little crazy and maybe obsessive, but it's a wonderful super power to fall back on when the going gets tough around the holidays. 
  6. What do you think your animal spirit is? A house cat. I wanted to pick a more exciting animal, but that really is the one I feel most connected to. They have such a great balance between independence and desire for social interaction.