Q & A With Ceramic Artist Bari Ziperstein

Bari Ziperstein

Angelina: What was your very first job and how old were you?

Bari: Babysitting and camp counselor for sure, probably sixth grade at the neighborhood kids’ house. But my first real job was in high school and summers between college, where I worked at a local Chinese Restaurant with all of the neighborhood kids. It was a tight family run business run by the Moy Family, where they took such good care of all of us, and in return I moved from working the phones to running the carryout in the kitchen to hostess to eventually being a waitress. To this day, I still have nightmares about waitressing on a busy Saturday night and not getting the correct food or missing a table. There was fabulous Holiday parties, field trips to the Sox Games, and general teenager partying. That job single handedly taught me how to speak to anyone; you know people get very grumpy about their Chinese Food orders!

A: Before you started doing ceramics, did you make other things?

B: After graduating from CalArts in 2004 with an MFA, I mainly made site-specific sculptures, public art, and photography works, showing in both museums and galleries. All the while maintaining a full time job in the LA Gallery world then gradually starting to teach sculpture at the University level which gave me more time to commit to my practice. After the market crash in 2008, I started to develop a new way of working; clay became an increasing more important part of my practice which developed into the design line and large-scale totemic ceramic sculptures. Since 2010 I’ve had a dual practice of a ceramic design line under B.Zippy & CO and a fine art practice under my name. But yes, I’ve been working in clay since high school, with a concentration in undergrad at Ohio University.

A: In your day to day work week, are you into keeping strict routines, or do you prefer spontaneity? What does an average weekday look like?

B: With a young family, and a three year old, my day to day is very routine with being woken up at 5:45 am by my son crawling into my bed to snuggle. It’s a mad rush to get them out the door. Hubby and son leave by 6:30 for daycare down at hubby’s aerospace gig, trekking across LA for that essential corporate daycare. That morning alone time is essential for the start of a long workday, but I’m at the studio by 7:30-8 am daily with a four block commute from my house. My daily routine is filled with a lot of administration work, email, invoicing, client relations, sales, maintaining website, on and on, as well as managing fabrication team, packing orders, glazing, studio visits, and yes, working with clay. I’m usually home by 6:30 pm when the family gets home but it’s so hard to wrap up at days end with loading the last pieces in a kiln or finalizing the production boards for the next day. 

When home we harvest from our seasonal garden and decide on dinner.  Then it’s bedtime routine for my son, which is that sweet time where lots of stories are read and we go over his day. Sharing a beer over at Huel Houser or Twin Peeks is a great end of day routine or me finalizing those last administrative emails before trying to relax for the night.

Bari Ziperstein

A: Current inspiration?

B: After a long hot day in the studio, walking up our 65 stares to various seasonal garden beds; it’s such a pleasure to harvest daily with my son. 

A: When dressing, who leads your heart or your mind?

B: Oh my, at this point, it’s really about what fits over my chest.

A: What is your favorite high-brow indulgence?

B: I love shoes, clothing and jewelry. I don’t think my taste is expensive for LA’s high-brow community but it’s something that can be very indulging. Including Feit shoes, Perfect 69 shirts, Kathryn Bentley fine jewelry and Marimekko apparel.

A: What is your favorite low-brow indulgence?

Trashy reality TV shows, my husband thinks I’m crazy for watching that shit, but honestly I may run a ship all day long with big and small decisions. To watch a little mindless TV drama over lunch is just the fix. Now am not I going to tell you what I watch, that would be a no!

A: Something you have yet to figure out?

B: Learning how to delegate more for the sake of continuing to grow the business.

A: Something you have figured out?

B: That nothing is stagnant, the business is ever changing. Sometimes you are pushed from outside circumstances and other times, it lands in your lap. Handing on tight to my commitment to my fine art practice, and design business with in those times, is key to survival and ultimate sustainability. 

A: Wouldn’t it be weird if…

B: So want to make a Trump joke here, but……..

Click here to see Bari's pieces at Beklina.

Bari Ziperstein