Interview: charm LA

Academia sometimes gets a bad rap from artsy types—after all, how can you teach creativity? However, sometimes a university environment is the perfect mix of a safe place for experimentation and just the right amount of challenge. Such was the case for Sarah Sherman of charm LA. Here’s the story of how she came up with her brilliant Sumba mixing bowls (which appeared in one of my gift guides last month), started her etsy shop and graduated—in her own words.

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
Sumba was created for my senior thesis project at Otis College of Art and Design. I graduated last May. As someone that cooks frequently, I noticed that there was a disconnect between how kitchen tools are designed and how they are actually used. This came to my attention one day when I was cooking with my Aunt Sarah who has arthritis in her hands; she spilled the batter to a cake everywhere because it was hard for her to hold. I designed Sumba so it would do three essential tasks at once. Make it easier to pour, it incorporates a tilt to make it easer to mix, and has a lip to make it easier hold.

How did you learn your craft? Tell us about your process.
I learned about ceramics while at art school, so I have only been working in clay for about 3 years. Believe it or not, I had never touched clay in my live till my sophomore year in Product Design. I soon fell in love with the medium and took 3 semesters of ceramic classes with my teacher and my mentor, Joan Takayama-Ogawa. During this time I also became the ceramics departments TA and kiln tech.

In the classes, I learned new ceramics production techniques as wells as hand building and throwing techniques. I designed Sumba in a 3D program called Rhino. Then it was prototyped using a 3D printer, form that I made the molds, slipped casted and fired all the work at my school.

Where do you work? What type of environment stimulates your creativity?
Currently I have been creating my ceramics in my kitchen. I am in the process of converting my basement in to a proper ceramics studio. I don’t have any specific environment that stimulates my creativity, but I like to have a clean working enjoyment. As a ritual I always clean a space before I work. Other wise its hard to focus when there is visual clutter everywhere.

How has your work evolved?
I think my greatest evolution I had in school was my concern for my audience. It is important that my work has integrity, durability and beauty. I would like to believe my work is more user friendly. It is important that my work has integrity, durability and beauty. I now create work for many, when used to paint in high school, I painted my work was only for a small audience and myself. I am now more interested in making things that have utility.

What is your greatest challenge?
My greatest challenge since graduating has been losing my community. Although I still see my friends from school I miss the environment at Otis. There is something special about being surrounded by people that are all creative.

What inspires you?
Other people inspire me, anybody that is masterful at what they do, not just artist or designers, but people that have passion and dedication. They can be found anywhere, from that mom making all of Thanksgiving from scratch, to those surfers on the beach that always seem to have a smile on there face.

Tell us about your etsy business. How did you discover Any beginner mistakes?
I started my etsy two months ago. I heard about it threw word of mouth. I would say that my beginner mistake was not having a pay pal account set up. I had lost a few sales because of that.

Etsy is not my full time job but I would like to make it that way. I am currently a working as design junior for small design firm based in LA. We hope to have a show coming up late march next year at the Pacific Design Center.

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