Interview Series: Lorien Stern

There’s a part of me that will always love simple aesthetics coupled with irresistibly adorable concepts. This leads me to believe that there will be apart of me that will always love Lorien Stern‘s work. Originally from the small nook of a town known as Ojai, Lorien embodies a sense of adventure that is evident within her work. Ceramic cats, sharks, bears and other cute animals live alongside batik egg portraits while a knack for printmaking effortlessly transforms hand-drawn graphics – Stern has dipped her toes in a variety of mediums resulting in light-hearted yet emotive work.


Currently living on The Land, a family owned property nestled on the edge of the Mojave Desert, Lorien is focused on constant creation, inching towards a self-sustained lifestyle and plans to open up artist residencies at her desert hideaway. She was kind enough to have a chat with Live FAST and fill us in on her current musings, inspirations and endeavors. Check out what she has to say below!


LF: Hi Lorien! Give Live FAST an introduction to yourself.

LS: Hey! I was born in the little town of Ojai, California. I went to California College of the Arts, in Oakland, for my BFA. I work in a wide variety of mediums, including egg batiking, wood turning, ceramics, screen printing, painting, and paper mache. Currently I live in the Mojave Desert and I love stars, watermelons, and whales, among other things.

LF: Your work varies in terms of medium and style – from ceramic dishware to ceramic cats to egg portraits, you craft each individual piece to have its own personality. How would you describe your creative approach?

LS: I try not to think too hard about what I should be making, and I pursue an simple idea more based on an interest or an attraction. Having a fun, honest approach to work is very important to me.


LF: You have a series of ceramic cats that have stolen my heart. What is the influence behind this particular series?

LS: This series is actually an homage to time period in my childhood. My father passed away when I was eight years old and within the year of his death I adopted seven cats. Looking back it sounds excessive, but they were tremendously helpful in aiding my healing process. They were great friends and occupied most of my time. I had never had cats before because my dad was very allergic to them. Ever since then cats have symbolized a feeling of comfort to me.


LF: What’s your favorite medium to work with and why?

LS: Currently I have the ceramics bug. I enjoy making three dimensional object based work, and the added dimension is a fresh means for experimentation of color and pattern. Working with ceramic glaze is still something I’m learning about and there is   exciting territory for me to uncover.


LF: Would you mind introducing our readers to “The Land”?

LS: The Land is my family’s 40 acre property in the northern tip of the Mojave Desert. Its main purpose over the years was to be a holding place for good deals and large projects my family has acquired over the years. Out here you can find just about anything. To name a few – there are over 50 vehicles of all kinds including boats, an old fire truck, army truck, a big rig, a reach fork, tractors, motorcycles, and trailers, all of which are in various states of function and repair. There’s a lot of potential out here. In the past year we have set up a screen printing studio and a music room inside of an old double wide trailer. We also set up a ceramics studio inside of a shipping container that once functioned as a military control room. I live here in a restored single wide mobile home. We have our own well and we are soon to be all solar powered, forever leaning towards being “off the grid.”


LF: How do you feel that living in the desert inspires you creatively?

LS: The colors out here are amazing, the sunsets are to die for, the stars are super clear, and the summer evenings make you feel like nothing else matters. I go on small runs through the sand to the neighbor’s pistachio farm and every time I see something different. Be it a pile of bones, old rusted tin cans, white thorny bushes, or beautiful piles of broken lavender, green, and blue glass. I also find it very refreshing to be in a creative environment without too many distractions.


LF: What are your top three inspirations at the moment?

LS: I can’t narrow it down to three so I’m going to do five! Whale sharks, cool children’s stickers, dead people, Papo Toys, and William Basinski’s album “Water Music.”


LF: What’s the last adventure you went on?

LS: My last big adventure was to Japan with my aunt. She is Japanese herself, so she is the best travel guide I could have asked for. We went to the Churaumi Aquarium on the island of Okinawa, where they have one of the largest aquariums in the world that houses three whale sharks. We then met up with my uncle and went to the island Yakushima, which contains the enchanted forest from Miyazaki’s animated movie Princess Mononoke. It was mind blowing.


LF: What can we expect to see from you in 2014?

LS: I’m in the process of making a variety of ceramic buttons, with designs from watermelons to “cool guy” emojicons to grass patterns. I will be sewing these onto vintage shirts and putting them in my online shop. I just invested in a 22 cubic foot kiln, so I’m thinking large! I’m also looking forward to inviting artists out to The Land to share the space and facilities with me.


LF: How fast do you live?

LS: Kind of slow actually… slow and steady. Patience is a big part of my desert life style. I often make trips to LA and the Bay Area for business and pleasure, so I get my regular dose of the speedy life.

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