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Published Sun, 14 Jun 2020
Artist Profile – Bzippy

We had the pleasure in visiting Bari’s studio in Los Angeles in 2018, it was amazing to see how everything is made, there is a great calmness in her studio as well as huge creative energy. Bari visited NZ in 2019 and we saw her present her inspiration and journey in an intimate art gallery setting. Seeing she was inspired by so many of the same things as us, it seemed only natural to ask her more and to share one of our favourite artists work with you…

What is your first memory related to creativity?

When I was little, I drew on restaurant placemats - those paper ones with the scalloped edge. My dad would give me a pen and assignment of what to draw; a house, a car, etc. I’d get angry if the paper placemats got stained with food or salad dressing. I also used to dress up in my mom's closet and put on her makeup. I also think of the countless pasta noodle mosaics and painting on rocks.

When did you start working with Ceramics?

I still have my first ceramic piece that I made in elementary school when I was a girl scout. It’s a small piece of a girl’s head with a little bow in her hair. The head is opened as if her head is split in two - it’s a well worn treasure.

What does the process look like before it is made into a finished concept?

The works typically start as a sketch on paper and translate to a small clay model. Once we determine dimensions, my lead fabricator and I figure out a cut list for the individual pieces that come together from slab rolled and extruded elements. Once we make a prototype, fire it entirely, and approve the overall design the piece is translated into a formal drawing and manual detailing its production.

How would you describe the aesthetic of Bzippy pieces?

BZIPPY ceramics are bold, clean, and architectural with elements of color and surprise.

When or how did you know you wanted to make this into your business?

Before I started BZIPPY in 2010, I was a teacher. A tenure position was increasingly difficult to find, and I began noticing the challenges of unsustainability in the fine art world. Around that time I was commissioned by a major retailer for an order that took three weeks to complete. It made me realize that creating something that was entirely my own was a possibility. It seemed like a great project to get off the ground, and I knew it would be satisfying. It also offered the opportunity to embed my ethics into a brand that was my own.

What or who inspires you?

I’m inspired by Brutalist Architecture, and concepts around architecture at large. I’m also inspired by travel, the desert, gardening, and cooking. I love shapes and collaging in real space. Cooking and gardening have that quality as well.

What are you most proud of?

I’m proud to run a woman owned, artist owned company that serves as a model for parallel practice in fine art and entrepreneurial endeavor under the same roof. We provide stable, good paying jobs with benefits to our community of artists who are often subject to precarious employment, housing, and healthcare coverage. Our products add a woman’s voice to the male-dominated fields of decor design and architecturally scaled ceramics. It’s important to stress how difficult it is to earn a reasonable living as an artist in the U.S. I’m proud of having surmounted this obstacle by starting my own successful company that I can run under the same roof as my fine art studio, and I’m proud that my work is taken seriously in both the design world and the art world. I’m also proud of being a female founder building a business that will be a legacy company for my son and his children.

What are your favourite ceramic objects?

My Grandma's cookie jar shaped like a train with a face on it.
A Lladró porcelain figure of a puffer fish from my mom.
A ceramic model of a Cadillac convertible my dad commissioned an artist to make him when I was a kid.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I was so enamored with New Zealand when I visited in the Fall of 2018! I got to travel to many different cities as the Portage prize judge for ceramics. It was amazing to see the diversity of the country in terms of landscape and the different kinds of artists the country is home to.

See & Shop BZippy here.

Check out photographer Eddie Cachon here