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Art & Life with Kristina Kotlier

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristina Kotlier.

Kristina, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
It was fall of the second year of my Master of Architecture program, and I was ready to push through another semester of classes when I happened across a class that really spoke to me. It was an interdisciplinary course cross-listed between the Architecture and Ceramics departments, and I was thrilled to find it.

I had taken some ceramics classes as a kid and jumped at the opportunity to get my hands dirty again. I quickly fell in love with creating my own mini-masterpieces from clay, the immediacy of the process, and the vibe of the ceramics studio. Learnings in the studio carried over to my architecture work, like incorporating casting and adding fast experimentation techniques into my practice.

After graduation, I dove in head first and opened up a ceramics studio of my own in Berkeley with a similarly impassioned classmate. When we weren’t at our architecture firm jobs, we were at the studio creating and collaborating late into the night and on weekends. We wanted to share our magical discovery and so began teaching classes to people in the community who wanted to get behind the wheel. We learned a lot about how to run a studio and developed great connections.

At the same time, I started a collaboration with ReCheng Tsang, a local artist whom I greatly admired. We were drawn together by a shared aesthetic and a desire to design engaging, site-specific installations for interior spaces. Through our collaboration, we’ve created a series of wall hangings and explored an entirely new side of design that stands at the intersection of architecture and ceramics.

Since then, I had an opportunity to move to Los Angeles with my wonderfully supportive boyfriend. I have a studio in the arts district now and am still splitting my time between architecture and ceramics and enjoying every inch of that middle space. Making is always the best part of my day, and I feel really lucky to have that.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I create architectural wall hangings made of delicate, hand-cast porcelain as well as functional pottery. I throw pieces on the wheel, make and cast molds, and hand build pieces. I’m process-focused and challenge myself to re-think and rework each step to effect unique, innovative outcomes.

I aspire to make things that feel good to have around you. If someone has a pot of mine in their home or at their desk, I hope they look at it and smile a few extra times throughout their day.

My work is a product of all the things around me, hand built into pieces that embody the art, architecture, and design that I’ve studied.

Artists rarely, if ever pursue art for the money. Nonetheless, we all have bills and responsibilities, and many aspiring artists are discouraged from pursuing art due to financial reasons. Any advice or thoughts you’d like to share with prospective artists?
I wish I had a great answer to this, but I would say to pick your side hustles wisely and enroll a few mentors into your life. I think many of us vacillate between pursuing our passion full-time vs. relegating it to a night and weekends gig. It can be scary to dive in, but you have to follow your heart and spend your time fully pursuing what is fulfilling to you. I freak out sometimes, and I’m thankful for my mentors for helping me to refocus and move forward. Great mentors have a wonderful calming effect, and as exemplars, show you that what you’re striving for is truly possible.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
You can find some of my work installed around the Bay Area and coming soon to LA. For visuals, you can find my latest work on Instagram at @kristinakotlier, and to support me, check out my webshop at!

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Gallery Lulo
Liana Hee

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