Augusta Smith | Episode 855
Augusta Smith is a multi-medium designer and artist based in Phoenix Arizona, primarily focused on ceramic vessels. Native to Edgefield County, South Carolina, Augusta uses his background in production scale ceramics and traditional functional forms along with his engineering research discipline to produce wares ranging from vessels and tableware to sculpture.
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How important is the design when it comes to making for a restaurant and for ease of use for the kitchen staff?
It is, in my opinion, as paramount as the design of the form. The design of the function and the design of the form are equally important to be formed specifically for that restaurant. So you need to know what’s going to be served on this thing that you want to make, how it’s going to be treated when it’s being cleaned, and when you put those two things together that’s when you can really find exactly what that person needs.
How much room do the customers typically give you when it comes to the design of the work?
Because all four of the restaurants that I am working with right now are because of Rene. So they all share pretty much the same level of, We trust you to do what you want to do. But I will only take on jobs that I feel like I can be expressive in, while fulfilling their needs.
What work do you turn down?
If they want to me make something that looks like you can buy it at Target, you know, if that’s there reference that they are sending me. Some people know exactly what they want and they expect that exact thing and in ceramics it’s very difficult to exactly replicate something when you have limited means of kilns and materials and time. I will turn down things that are outside of my scope or what I am interested in working on in that moment.
When they are coming to you with an order of 450 plates how do you go about budgeting for the work?
If it’s an order of a thousand dollars or more I get 50 percent upfront and that allows me to pay for my materials and if I need help, to pay for help and equipment. As far as budgeting goes in a general sense, and I’ve had to work with out as I have taken on commissions for different things, but you want to know roughly how much space it is going to take up in your kiln, how much clay it is going to take to make it, how much glaze is going to go on those pieces, and the space that you have available as far as how many can you physically make and house in your workspace. So those all went into my calculations.
You were told to get a real job. Do you now see working with ceramics as a real job? That art is a real job?
I think my definition of a job has changed significantly. My previous definition of a job is so intertwined with my definition of success and as I’ve gotten deeper into art and deeper into the meaning of art in my life my definition of success has changed dramatically. And I definitely see this as a viable means of supporting myself and even more so a viable means of bringing something important, contributing something important to the world. I think the most benefit that I could do for my community is this job, this path.
The Thinking Hand by Juhani Pallasmaa