Friday, July 20, 2012

Ceramic Artist Emil Yanos

Emil's design for the Kitayama Cup
Today's interview is with Emil Yanos, AIFD; ceramic artist, florist and all around amazingly creative guy. I visited his ceramics studio not long after we both participated in the Kitayama Cup Floral Design Competition.

KM: Thanks for having me over to your studio. It was fun to see you at the Kitayama Cup competition. I was really surprised that you didn't win! There was a big AIFD presence. You are the outgoing president. Can you talk a little about the AIFD? Everyone seems friendly.

EY: Yes, I'm the outgoing president of AIFD Northwest.  If you don't know AIFD is a professional floral organization whose purpose is to promote design excellence, floral education and professionalism in the floral industry.  We try to put on programs that educate the public as well as our current members.  Subject could range from design techniques to shop practices.  Of course we want to promote people in our region.

Emil at his studio.
KM: Well, I love flowers, but I'm really intrigued by your ceramics. You tell me that the floral designs and the ceramics are really separate disciplines to you, but I see lots of organic forms here, especially this cone-shaped series you are working on now.

EY: I really see flowers and ceramics as separate entities.  I'm not saying that either can't be incorporated together.  I would like each to be able to stand on its own.  I have made containers for flowers.  The aesthetic for those were determined by function.  Of course you can put flowers in my other work but their primary function is art.

In general my work deals with texture and contrast.  You can see a juxtaposition of rough with smooth, shiny with matte, and everything in between.  In many cases, color is kept to a minimum because there is so much visual interest.  At the same time I occasionally will add a vibrant color when I feel the piece needs it.

Ceramic candle holders by Emil Yanos
KM: Can you talk a little about these Illuminations candle holders? I love the texture of these, rough on the outside and smooth and shiney on the inside. Another interviewer commented that they reminded her of lava, personally I'm a big sci-fi fan, so they look like dinosaur eggs to me. What was your real inspiration?

EY: Its funny my votives remind you of dinosaur eggs.  Thats what they remind me of.  If you go to my ceramic page on Facebook, you'll notice the photo I use.  I had those pieces shot with eggs.  To me its kind of like an egg fossil.  As I told you, my objective was to work within my capabilities.  When I first started doing ceramics, my pinch pots (which is what these are) did not retain moisture, they became dried and cracked.  I decided to use that feature to my advantage, instead of working against it.  It comes down to knowing you skill and materials and how to use each to its full potential.

Large "coconut bowl" by Emil Yanos
KM: I love these bowls and platters made of strips. You told me an interesting story about these.

EY: I began making the "Coconut" bowls when I developed tendonitis and I couldn't thow.  Making coils was the only thing I could do without injuring myself any further.  The coils are pressed into a form then smoothed out.  I wanted to high light the exterior so I decided to put on a wash of iron oxide, which fires to a warm toasty brown, and keep the "color" on the interior.  When they came out of the kiln they reminded me of coconuts.

Two photos of works from Emil's Maui series.
KM: You told me that you've had a space here at Ruby's Clay Studio for a long time, and that a different artist's work is shown in the upstairs gallery every couple of weeks. Do you have one coming up soon?

EY: Ruby's has a new show every two weeks.  I was part of the Open Studio show last October.  Every October San Francisco has its open studios.  I participated in open studios the last two or three years, featuring my latest work, the Maui series.  This is the series that was inspired by the back of leaves.  I've used used this inspiration and transformed it into the varying shapes.

There is a great interview with Emil on the Handful of Salt design blog, and you can see the wide range of his ceramic work on his web site limegreen.

If you can't see the slideshow above, click here to see it on Flickr.