Words by Sheila Lam
Photographs by Justin Chung

Danny’s Mud Shop

Los Angeles, CA

Panthers, cowboy boots, flaming hearts, and pretty ladies. The motifs found in Daniel Dooreck's ceramic works feel intimately linked to the contemporary, living tradition of classic mariner tattoos. Each of Daniel's pieces exhibits a fun old-school flash that illustrates the dynamics of the art's cultural expression and has become his defining calling card among the vast array of ceramics offered today. He jokes, "I love putting elaborate designs, really quite intricate and time-consuming detailed work on clay with a stupid caption next to it." Though the words may be nonsensical, it's hard to say they don't mean anything at all.

Phrases like "it's all a darn tootin' dream" on a flower vase or "to be bad or to be good" on a doggy treat jar read like a sage remark. "It's like all those comics for the New York Times," he says. To distill whole concepts down to something digestible, silly, and that everyone can laugh with is, in itself, a talent. Coupling that with the materiality of ceramics brings it to another level. "It took me a long time to figure out that you can do a lot of things with clay. That it doesn't have to be just one thing," he says. "There are a few tattoo artists playing around with ink on clay, they're amazing, and they influenced me a lot to try something different."

We all crave belonging and that feeling of being a part of a community. Originally from the West Coast, for Daniel, returning to Los Angeles has proven to be the welcome anyone would hope for. After studying Kinesiology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, he took up residency in Toronto. Working in hospitality and partnering in a successful restaurant business was going well. But as the pandemic loomed in 2020, Daniel packed up his things and drove his fire engine red Toyota Land Cruiser across the continent back to California. After a triumphant Instagram fire sale of his first vases out of his garage, Daniel dropped everything and started Danny's Mud Shop.

It's remarkable to learn that he officially launched his pottery business just a year ago. Dedicating upwards of 30 hours a week to throwing clay at the wheel even before he embarked on the business full-time. Since establishing Danny's Mud Shop, he's made over 1,500 pieces, each with a story and its own little funny on the face. Daniel's a one-man show working hard behind the scenes and in front of house. He's been featured in Mr. Porter, appeared in a Vans campaign, has nearly a dozen retail partners across North America, and has quickly become a familiar face among the artisan and design crowd in Los Angeles. "I've been meeting the most amazing people who come to the studio, especially photographers," he says. "I'm weirdly in this community and don't even know how to load a camera. I don't even know what a shutter speed is. But they're all incredible people. I think it has helped the brand's image, and they've become great friends and a huge support."

Speaking with Daniel, getting locked into a conversation with his excitable spirit is easy. And that's perhaps a driving force behind his success. There's a constant momentum behind his work, not just in its production but in community involvement. Whether it's a rooftop crab boil, a Valentine's Day studio sale, or his participation in a plethora of local markets, he makes an effort to be engaging, and it pays off. Creating ceramics may be a solo endeavor right now, but being a part of a larger community, be it tattoo artists, photographers, or other artisan buffs, makes everything—like his creations—a bit more fun.●

Director: Justin Chung

Editor: James Messina

Colour Grading: Zach Calvello