Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Lauren Kearns – Artist Interview


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Lauren Kearn is now based out of Ventura, California, she just recently moved from Carbondale, Colorado.  Lauren and I met while I was teaching summer workshops at the Carbondale Clay Center.  While living in Colorado she made these beautiful pots about the sea.  Now that she lives closer to the ocean, I wonder if she will make art about the mountains. 

Lauren’s website:

Tell us a little about yourself!

I have been an artist all my life. I am also a teacher. Currently living in Ventura CA, having recently moved from Colorado, where I was the director of a clay center for the past 5 years. I have been working in clay for the past almost 40 years, as I did start in high school. I wanted to become a painter when I went to art school, but was very drawn to ceramics, so I concentrated my studies there, with Ken Ferguson and Victor Babu being my teachers. I loved to draw and have just taken my first printmaking course of monotypes and loved it. That is my next area of concentration.

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How did you become an artist? 

I was born an artist. I announced it at age 4, much to my parents upset.

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How would you describe your style? One of the hardest things for artists to do is to stand apart from everyone else. How long did it take you to come up with your own style and signature look?

Well, Ferguson put it best, you have to make pots on the type of person you are. When one is young, you really are in formation and you are discovering who you are as a human being and artist. In school, I think everyone is highly influenced by all that is around them, and mainly other students and teachers. In my opinion, it is often when one is out of art school, on their own, that they are free to discover themselves as individuals. We are constantly evolving and changing, so work will be a reflection of this process.

It did take me a long time to discover and have confidence in my own artistic pursuit of my ‘voice’ /my style. I have gone through many phases of development and interests that influences my work. I have realized I walk a fine line between strictly functional and decorative. Both influence me and both have inspired me. Now I am more drawn to sculpture and surface, so we will see where I develop from this point.

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What is your inspiration for your pieces?

My latest work was made while in Colorado. I started with the work and realized I was missing the ocean. I saw an article on fish, and how they see color and that was the beginning of the inspiration. Fish are so beautiful in their color and patterns. I do love to cook so many of the shapes I have created are designed for serving. The sculptures I have done are inspired by the life of the sea rocks.

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What keeps you motivated?

I don’t really know. I simply have the desire to create and make art. It is a constant driving force.

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Are you a full-time artist? How do you come up with your creations? Can you walk us through your creative process when dreaming up new pieces?

I am not a full time working artist at this point. I discovered teaching about 13 years ago and feel very strongly that I have a strong talent for teaching…. So I have pursued that aspect. I was a full time studio artist for many years, and it has been important in my development as a person to do other pursuits, such as dancing and teaching art.

I have no idea where ‘it’ comes from. It just comes and I don’t question it. I go into my studio and just start working and let it happen. Sometimes I have drawings, first, sometimes I bring in pictures…. Sometimes I look at books. And then I start.

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What was it that made you want to start creating? Did something specific trigger it?

I don’t remember. I just started at 4 and have not ever really stopped, except for certain periods of my life…. That took that creative drive/focus to use that energy in another direction.

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What or who inspires you?

My teachers have inspired me. Periods in history have inspired me. Victor Babu, Kurt Weiser, Engish porcelains, the art of the Asmat, Indian weavings, Japanese lacquer ware etc.

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How do you maintain a healthy work and life balance?

I try, that is all I can say – I try to have a balance in my life, while pursuing my passions. I am certain of one thing. That having a priority of creating helps in creating a center from which all other necessities and interest fall in line. I fell in love with training dogs, and wanted to become a horse trainer, but realized I would have to do that in another life. Same with dancing – I was too old by dance standards to become a dancer, plus I have no desire to be on stage or be a performer. But it is essential to know that all one does in life only adds to their artistic life.

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You, like most people enjoy the process of making and crafting and didn’t get into it for the sake of “business”. But eventually you found yourself having to make the transition from crafter to a businessperson. What have you learned so far and what advice can you give others in the same situation?

Here is the advice I can offer now:

1. Have great pictures taken, invest in good photography 2. If you do wholesale craft shows: lighting is of utmost importance, and having good brochures for buyers to take with them is really important. 3. Visit the galleries that you think you would best promote your work. 4. Take advice from everyone and discard what is not useful to you.

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What advice can you give aspiring artists struggling to find their own voice and look?

Keep working. Go into the studio no matter what. One has to make bad art to make good art. Don’t be intimidated, as everyone is going through the same thing.

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