HOMETOWN HEROES: CERAMIST RAMI KIM

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We’re back to celebrate more of our Hometown Heroes, aka local makers, designers and creatives we love all across the country. Enter: Rami Kim, an LA-based animator-turned-ceramist whose whimsical work (featuring lots of faces and cats) is right up our alley. Find out about her process and inspirations, plus the advice she has for other artists looking to turn their hobbies into full-time gigs.

Tell us how this all started—what sparked your interest in ceramics?

When I was at UCLA working on my thesis (a stop-motion animated short), I played around with clay to make tiny heads and sculptures. It was just Sculpey baked in the oven, but that made me want to try something different with other types of clay, like earthenware and stoneware. So I started going to local ceramics studios to explore. As soon as I touched the clays, I knew that I would be making ceramics for a very long time. I fell in love and couldn’t think of anything else.

What do you do when you feel like you need a little extra inspiration?

I feel fortunate to be living in Los Angeles, where there’s always something happening. I try to go to art exhibits that interest me. I also like to go on trips to places close by and see the nature around me, feel the colors each town has and visit little shops. I don’t always realize it at that moment, but these experiences come back to me as inspiration later.

Trying new things helps too. I recently did an artist residency in Vermont that was so amazing. It helped me cultivate my skills and knowledge and to appreciate the community of artists around me.

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What are some must-haves you keep on hand while creating?

Coffee in the morning to help with concentration. Good music is essential too. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass—especially the Whipped Cream & Other Delights album. I also love the How I Built This podcast. The day always ends with hot hojicha, which helps me sleep well and get ready for another day.

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Speaking of, can you share what a typical day is like?

I usually get to the studio by 10ish. Sometimes I show up with my dog, Gus, who mostly just naps. It depends on what I’m focusing on that day, but if I’m making and building, I try to finish reading emails and shipping orders in the morning before doing production in the afternoon. I walk to the local kebab place or drive for a bowl of pho with my friends or eat a light lunch I bring from home. I take my dog out and go back to work until 6 or 7 when I’m not busy. Then I go to a Pilates class because I do my best to take care of my body.

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Any advice for other creative people out there looking to start a business?

Do what you love and what you believe in. I didn’t start ceramics thinking that I wanted to do something with it professionally. It all came naturally by playing around and exploring. If you enjoy what you do, it shows in your work. And don’t be afraid to share what you create with the world. Try to make friends and stay connected to the community!

Thanks for the inspo, Rami. Check out more of her work here. Plus, get to know past Hometown Heroes or learn about upcoming store parties with local makers near you (including special events around Mother’s Day—hint, hint, time to start thinking gifts).