When moving to a new city, particularly a big urban one, denizens-to-be are often given dubious advice: never take the bus; don’t make eye contact with strangers; dress like other city dwellers, not according to the weather, and so on.
Upon his arrival in Los Angeles in 2010, Ben Medansky was advised to get physical. “Someone told me to join a dodgeball team. And I was like, ‘What? Okay,’” Ben recalls. “And everybody on the team has ended up doing something phenomenal in so many different realms.” Ben, a graduated of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, included.
Technically speaking, his realm is ceramics. And as it turns out, one of Ben’s teammates was Simon Haas, half of the popular contemporary art duo, The Haas Brothers. Simon and his brother, Nikolai, had just gotten a kiln and were looking to get into ceramics. Ben, who would ultimately work for the brothers for about a year, quickly engaged his teammate mid-game. “Then I got hit on the face with a dodgeball because we were talking, and I learned that this wasn’t the best time to have that conversation.”
Getting in a little face time, as it were, is incredibly important to Ben, who works out of a cavernous, albeit homey and thoughtfully-organized 3,000-square-foot studio in downtown LA. (A crew of five, plus two alert, adorable rescue dogs round out the team.)
In fact, the admittedly outgoing Ben cites the ability to establish a community and grow word-of-mouth in real life as the most critical component of building a business today. “If you’re not going out there yourself and meeting people in real life, then you’re missing out on a big part of what’s happening,” he says.