Cym Warkov, the artist behind our favorite ribbed porcelain vases, took time out of her busy schedule to answer some of our questions on her circuitous journey into ceramics, working in isolation, and her creative process.
WW: Tell us about your journey to start Cym Warkov Ceramics. What were you doing before and what prompted you to start your own business?
CW: Before starting my business, I had been working in the landscape architecture profession and had dreams of opening an outdoor furniture store. I took a circuitous route when an opportunity to partner in a high-end furniture and lighting store opened up to me. During that experience of meeting and working with designers and makers, I realized that making and creating was where my passion was. I set out to design a line of ceramic-based lighting but got sidetracked while making prototypes that resemble the decorative vessels that I'm most known for.
WW: How did you come to define your aesthetic as an artist?
CW: My aesthetic is primarily influenced by my love of architecture, the human form. I'm attracted to the order of architectural design juxtaposed with the perfect imperfections of nature and the flow of the human form. Another significant influence would be the simplicity and austerity of growing up in and around a Zen Buddhist community.
WW: Can you walk us through your process for creating your beautiful ribbed vessels?
CW: I start with a sketch and then work out the "engineering" of the forming/mold and sculpting process. Each piece is a sculpture with multiple stages of work and finishing involved. I often think I know what I'm setting out to accomplish only to be sidetracked by an urge to do something else altogether.
WW: What do you enjoy most about running your own ceramics studio? What do you find most challenging?
CW: I like working in isolation. I work seven days a week, and my mind is on my work even when I'm not at my studio. I enjoy total immersion in my work. I feel fortunate to have such supportive retail stores and interior design clients driving my business.
The most challenging part is that I do it all myself - making, shipping, billing, schlepping, etc.
WW: What is an object in your home that has particular meaning to you and why?
CW: A pencil drawing by my mother, Lynne Lockie. It is simple, elegant, and straight to the point, just like her. My mother is the most influential person in my life creatively as well as emotionally.
WW: How does living and working in Minnesota influence and inspire your work?
CW: Living and working in Minnesota allows ease and freedom not found in larger metropolitan cities. Minneapolis is a clay town, so it's easy to get supplies and find kindred spirits. The change of seasons is a marker of time that I missed while living in Los Angeles. That marker pushes me to grow and expand my work.
WW: What have been some recent sources of inspiration for you?
CW: Non-binary identity has been the most significant influence lately.
I am questioning what femininity and masculinity mean. What is learned, and what part of gender identity is a performance versus what’s biological?
WW: Any words of advice for aspiring artists or entrepreneurs?
CW: Only take advice from people that have been successful at whatever you are trying to achieve. Avoid controlling people. "Success means never having to work with assholes" ~John Waters
WW: We couldn’t agree more!