EVOLVER | Anastasia Tumanova

Anastasia Tumanova

ceramic artist | @anastasiatumanova_

San Francisco Bay Area 


 

imagine mother nature 

as a ceramics artist

and you just might be able to imagine the kind of quietly stunning artwork that Anastasia Tumanova creates. but to see it (even on Instagram!) is even better: those natural hues! those organic shapes! the sheer scale of it all! the effort, and care, and dedication to making the world a better and more beautiful place! but her path was a conscious one. “i was a graphic designer for a decade,” she says. “making a lot of design projects on my laptop, turning my creations in digitally. back in the ceramic studio, i felt all those digital barriers melt away — it was just me and the clay. it felt so primal and the creative possibilities seemed endless.” hear, hear.

 

where do you live? 

“i was born and raised in Moscow, Russia, and currently live and work from my home studio in Alameda, California with my sweetie Cameron. i’ve lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for nine years, which feels amazing to say, given how many people come and go around here. i stay because this area is just flat-out gorgeous. the landscape is so dynamic and invigorating to the spirit. you have everything from rugged coasts and sandy beaches to lush forests and sun drenched hills.”

 

what do you do — professionally, personally, passionately? 

“i’m a ceramic artist with a big love for the great outdoors. i make ceramic wall installations out of hundreds of individually cut pieces of clay, inspired by what i observe in nature. my clients range from small private collectors and galleries to interior designers and large corporate offices. i love my work because i get to harness all my creative skills, and work with some really talented people.” see more of her work on her site HERE and follow her on instagram HERE

 

what path led you here? 

“before i became an artist, i was a graphic designer for a decade. what drove me to ultimately change my path to become an artist was two things: 1) an inner knowing that my creativity was not being fully harnessed in my occupation and 2) a desire to spend more time outside.


my art practice stems from my outdoor foraging habit — i love to gather bits of leaves, flowers, pebbles, and admire their texture, shape, and color. it’s something a lot of people do when on the trails, because it’s delightful and adds to the sensory experience of being outdoors. i wanted to be able to capture these foraged objects more permanently with my art, to bring the outdoors into the home. ceramics felt like the perfect material to convey this with, because it's literally making things with earth.


i started my journey in a little community ceramic studio while studying design in 2006. i got on the wheel, threw down a ball of clay, cranked out some wobbly bowls, and i was obsessed. at the time, i was making a lot of design projects on my laptop and turning my creations in digitally, or printing them on huge Epson inkjets. back in the ceramic studio, i felt all those digital barriers melt away — it was just me and the clay. it felt so primal and the creative possibilities seemed endless.”

 

how do you approach your work? 

“i approach my work as both an artist and designer. i’ll often make sketches and ceramic prototypes of an idea before actually making the idea in my head at full scale. i’m currently working on an artwork that captures the Ginko tree when it sheds its leaves. i want to capture this delightful moment, so developing the perfect yellow color and capturing the essence of that fanned leaf is important to get right. my process definitely takes a lot of patience as it involves sketching, making models, trying different shapes, testing glazes and color, and troubleshooting kiln firings. yet, i’ve found maintaining persistence in this process results in some of my most cherished artworks.”

 

something you’ve realized “on the job”?

“the sound of ceramic is magical. i was adding more pieces to a loom wall hanging, and it started producing the most light, clear ringing sound. i realized that i had not only made a beautiful artwork, but a giant indoor wind chime! i love the surprises that come along with the creative process.”

 

one work you created that’ especially meaningful to you?

“i’m particularly proud of my Terra Cotta Mandala. it’s made up of many intricately carved pieces of sumptuous red terra cotta clay and features elements that i drew from traditional Russian lacquerware called Khokhloma. from a distance it looks almost like an enormous wood craving you would find on an old dacha in the Russian country.”

 

any advice for aspiring artists?

“invest in yourself. i think many artists are afraid of spending money on their art, because they don’t trust in themselves or their process. have faith! invest in materials and tools, a dedicated art space, time, coursework, a website, and anything else you need to thrive. see every spenditure you make on your art as an investment that will pay dividends in the long run.”

 

we are living in crazy — but important, for so many reasons — times. what is life like right now for you?

“my heart goes out to anyone reading this who has lost a loved one due to the pandemic, or has faced racial discrimination personally. i feel fortunate that i’ve had a loving partner to keep me company — i’m so beyond grateful to him for bringing joy and love to an otherwise stressful pandemic year.”

 

what are you looking forward to most this year?

“it feels calmer to me, without the drama of the election or Trump’s tweets. three weeks ago i moved from San Francisco to a new space in Alameda, which has been a welcomed life shift. i sold all the artwork i had in my old studio, so the walls are empty and full of potential right now!”

 

what's the single best thing you bought, read, did, listened to, saw, cooked and /or dreamed up so far this year?

“read: Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. did: made a ceramic loom inspired by Mt. Hood, Oregon. listened to: Ulla Strauss’s Big Room. saw: Lake Tahoe’s Secret Cove. cooked: Pizza Focaccia, inspired by SF’s Liguria Bakery.”

 

piece of époque on current rotation?

“i’m a lover of all things cozy, so i’ll be in the essential wool cardigan all day. i have my eye on that all-in-one belt bag in whiskey for my forages.”

 

three random items you can’t live without?

“1. tape measure: i’m constantly measuring things and never seem to have enough of them. 2. All Trails app: i love to download trails ahead of time on this app. makes hiking feel more safe, and helps plan my weekend adventures! 3. my hiking boots: i wear a pair of soft suede Danner boots and they seem to be able to handle anything on the trails.”

 

shop anastasia's picks

all-around life hack you swear by? 

“i use Shippo to mail just about anything that isn’t a simple envelope. they let you buy labels online for all the major carriers and print them out at home. i print the labels to Avery half sheet shipping labels. this means all i have to do is drop it off at the UPS / USPS and go about my day.”

 

not-so guilty pleasure?

“my Nespresso coffee maker. i don’t know why it should be guilty, but it just feels a lot fancier than a French press. it makes café-level coffee, super fast. i also got the Nespresso Aeroccino milk frother that makes perfect lattes and cappuccinos at home.”

 

mantra?

“find the joy within yourself.”

 

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