While working in restaurants last year, Danny Dooreck realized he was good at throwing pots – or, as he likes to say, ‘turning mud into really nice ceramics’.
Classically trained in wine with a ton of certifications, he had just left Toronto, where he loved the hospitality business, to Los Angeles, where he didn't. ‘Also, I realized I didn't like working for anyone,’ he says.
He'd been a pottery ‘hobbyist’ back in Toronto, joining a studio a couple of years before his big move and making vases whenever he got a chance. He was making pottery in his home studio every day before and after work, soon filling his garage with pieces. So, he held a sale on his personal Instagram, making some money but losing a fair bit on shipping. ‘I didn't really know what the fuck I was doing!’
After some convincing from friends, Danny quit his job. He took a month off and started taking ceramics seriously, doing everything from building a website to hiring an accountant. He only launched in April 2022 but, with a handful of wholesale clients and plans to open a retail space in the near future, he's well on his way to building the sustainable income that he's aiming for.
While simple cups and plates are ‘what keep the lights on’, the style that Danny has developed over the past few years is unique (or, in his words, ‘weird’). He takes custom orders, and the pieces that he loves making the most are inspired by the American West, particularly California. Cowboys, pool tables, snakes – he spends time carving his designs into the pots before painting. ‘It's an entire extra step, but it adds depth and texture and grain,’ he says.
Danny has lots of tattoos and finds inspiration in tattoo art. He connects with local artists and puts their work on pots, recently trading a vase for a tattoo. ‘I love being in that community and finding cool artists,’ he says. ‘I've tapped into different communities: younger people, tattoo artists, western people, truck guys.’ He makes a lot of connections on Instagram. ‘You can go anywhere and get ceramics but, when you buy from a person [who] you know is working hard and is real – people want to support that.’