Making Bright Marks: How One Brightmark Employee is Making a Difference for Ukraine

by Brightmark March 22nd, 2022

Pottery is a beautiful form of art. Watch our interview below with Brightmark design engineer Maksym Katasonov, about how he is supporting Ukraine through his pottery craft. If you’d like to support his efforts, see his Instagram handle and Venmo below.



Instagram handle: maksymkatasonov


Provide a little background on yourself and what you do at Brightmark.

I started working at Brightmark in May of 2020 as an engineering intern; I continued my internship through my senior year at Trine University. After graduating with a degree in design engineering, I started working full-time as a lab technician, running a small pyrolysis unit to test different plastic streams. Since fall, I’ve been involved in the Fuel Upgrade System (FUS) startup, and during this process, I’ve moved up to a design engineering position. For now, I will be heavily involved in the FUS startup and slowly transitioning into my engineering role, which involves managing the drawings for the plant and its equipment and designing anything that may be needed for successful and safe operations at the facility.


How did you get involved in creating pottery?

I took a ceramics class during my freshman year in high school; at first, I hated it because it was messy, and the teacher made us stay after class to clean up after finishing class (which was very hard!). I signed up for sculpture and ceramics 2, and that’s where I began to hone my ability with clay. After seeing the improvement, I signed up for the next class, and I ended up taking all five levels and being the TA through my senior year. Since graduating high school, it’s been my dream to open a pottery studio where I could be creative and teach others.


What sparked the idea to help raise money for Ukraine using your pottery as a channel?

There has been a lot of inspiration that led up to this point. It started with Bob Bieber: my friend, mentor, and teacher (my high school ceramics teacher). During my time in high school, I participated in the potter’s marathon, a 24-hour event where the students stayed at the school for 24 hours making pottery. This has been an annual event put on by Bob for over 20 years. The funds raised were benefiting the Riley Children’s Hospital. Through this, Bob taught me how pottery could be used as a conduit for helping others.

My next inspiration was my wife, Brenna, and a couple who are great friends. They’re always trying different business ideas, and they motivated me to be more proactive about my dream. Brenna was very supportive of the concept, which inspired me even more.

And finally, my sister-in-law, a fantastic and talented artist, was selling her paintings to raise money for Ukraine. I thought I could do the same thing with my pottery.


How can people directly support your efforts?

There are a few ways, the easiest of which is to share my posts with the pottery I’m selling. They can buy and preorder pieces they like. They can send donations through Venmo, which will be forwarded to our contact in Ukraine. People can also help me with the cost of supplies (which is not the priority, I can manage that myself as part of my contribution, but if someone wants a particular color glaze that I don’t have, in that case, it just allows me to raise more money for Ukraine).


Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I would love to share some good news, I’m sure you don’t even have to look, and you’ll hear of the events unfolding in Ukraine anyway. The negative stuff always screams louder than the positive stuff; I guess it gets more attention. So what I want to share is that despite the hardships, there are people showing love to strangers. There are store owners who open their doors and give away food to those who are hungry. Some people have given their lives to God and accepted Jesus. So Glory to God, who has everything under control.

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