At the age of 20, Gabriel Ángel has created the most popular TikTok account on Lanzarote. The young ceramicist from Teguise spoke to us recently, and also agreed to appear on our cover.
How did you start doing ceramics, Gabriel?
My father is a well-known craftsman on Lanzarote, and a few years ago he bought all the equipment for creating ceramics – a wheel, a kiln and other tools. But he never got round to using them, so one day towards the end of 2019 I decided to learn myself.
How did you learn?
By myself. I started watching videos online, then took some online courses. I’m still very much starting my career in ceramics, but I absolutely love what I do, making the pieces and experimenting with glazes, learning about firing temperatures and other aspects.
I’m also fascinated by Canarian ceramics, and have been surrounded by them all my life. I don’t use clay from the island because it’s actually illegal to extract it from the Famara clifftops without a special licence, so I get mine from Barcelona and Valencia. But Lanzarote influences my work, with the red, yellow and black glazes I use to reflect the lava.
Did the lockdown and pandemic affect what you did?
It’s been terrible for the island, but for me it turned out to be an opportunity. It gave me the time to get established and focus on what I do. I worked incredibly hard during the lockdown and afterwards, making and posting several videos a day, and giving live pottery demonstrations. It was exhausting, but it helped me to earn some money and raise my profile.
Tell us about the TikTok videos.
I started on TikTok and found it fun and easy. It’s a way of raising your profile quickly. More recently, I’ve started accounts on Instagram, Twitch and YouTube. They’re a little harder to break into, but it’s still early days.
How many followers do you have online?
At the last count, around 1,400,000. There are some in the Canaries and many more in Spain, but I also have followers in Mexico, as well as Colombia, Argentina, Chile and other Latin American countries.
ASMR videos, which show satisfying processes, are very popular online, and pottery is a perfect example. Did this influence your videos?
I saw another potter online who was posting ASMR videos, so I decided to try and do the same, and posted some videos of me just creating ceramics works with no talking. It’s not all of what I do, but it’s certainly an element of it.
Creating a video is an artistic process just as much as making a pot. Have you learnt much about video-making?
Yes, but again I taught myself. Videos need planning, editing, music, and I had to learn all that, too. Like the ceramics, I’m still learning. You have to watch which videos get a good response and observe trends.
Do you think you’re a celebrity?
(Laughs) No. I wouldn’t go that far. I’d say I was well-known. Most importantly, I’m doing something different and I’ve made a lot of friends doing it.
What items do you prefer to make?
I like making small pieces – coasters, small plates, glazed shot glasses, fridge magnets – and I like what I make to be practical and useful.
Where can people find your work?
I sell online, but if you’re on Lanzarote you can find them at the ARTeguise workshop in Teguise and our shops in the Biosfera Shopping Centre and the El Pueblo Shopping Centre at Las Coloradas in Playa Blanca.
What about the future, Gabriel?
I’ve got lots of plans, but mainly it’s about getting the system right. As I said, I’ve just started, but I’ve created something that’s already bearing fruit, and I’m doing something unusual and different.
Many thanks, and the best of luck, Gabriel.
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