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The Rarest Combination : Artist and Designer

Apr 27, 2017
The Rarest Combination : Artist and Designer

 Lime & Leaf interviews Judi Tavill of Judi Tavill Ceramics 

There are artists and there are designers, and then there’s a small percentage of people who are both.  Judi Tavill is, without exception, one of those people.

Judi Tavill started her career in many ways the moment she graduated from  Washington University in St. Louis.  She arrived at Lilly Pulitzer in the early 1990s when the brand was laying out its strategy for re-emergence, and became a key designer there, focusing on fashion, fit, strategic design direction as well as illustration and print design.  After Lilly Pulitzer she moved forward briefly with her own clothing line, and eventually changed course to have two wonderful sons and become a full-time mom.  

But, as with all artists, her creative fires were burning and they were not going to stop…

 

Lime & Leaf: 

Hi Judi!  After that introduction we have to ask you, when did you decide to move toward sculpture and ceramic art?

Judi Tavill:

Hi! It was shortly after my second son was born, I think he was about two or three years old.  I started taking classes in the Monmouth County park system, I think it’s called the “Creative Arts Center at Thompson Park” now.

Lime & Leaf:

Wow – that’s a big shout out for the Creative Arts Center, they had no idea at the time they were helping to launch your second career!

Judi Tavill:

I’m not so sure I did either, but I quickly fell in love with the medium, and began to see all the things I could do.  The timing was right and we actually built an entire studio here at our home, including our kiln.

 

Lime & Leaf:

We’ve seen the videos of your studio – its incredible, like your art.  How did your style evolve?

Judi Tavill:

I always feel the need to alter the clay in some way.  I developed my own style and it’s working.  I love working in clay – and like to make many of my pieces functional – but with a twist.  I think of it as “sculptural art” but again, decorative and functional.  There are many “rules” in ceramics as in all types of art, but if you are persistent and have a vision, you can do anything.  Over time I’ve invented new techniques that are quite complex but yield the results I am seeking – aligning with what I see in my mind that is possible.

Lime & Leaf:

Can you tell us more about what you mean when you say “altering the clay”?  Also, can you talk more about the evolution of your designs?

Judi Tavill:

Sure! I was playing with texture, a key element in what I do, and it just sort of happened as I was experimenting.  I started working within a framework – a lot of people see “coral” type textures in my work, but its really my own interpretation of a myriad of textures that I see and aggregate into my own unique result.  It’s helpful as an artist to create a framework for yourself to give yourself direction, and it’s certainly been helpful to me.

Lines and texture are endlessly fascinating to me, and over time I have done my best to find little tricks to make things work.  Artists evolve, and it’s a natural and exciting journey to do so.  I think I have violated all the tenets of ceramic work to achieve what I see – but as I have heard, you have to master all the rules before you start breaking them! 

Judi's inspiration is derived directly from nature

Lime & Leaf:

Well, keep breaking them because the results are simply beautiful!  What’s next for Judi Tavill?

Judi Tavill:

Thank you! I’m thinking of continuing what I’m doing – but you can see where I am going off in a direction that’s inspired a little by mid-century modern, introducing glass color, coloring the clay – there’s a side of me that wants to go all color, (laughs) but I think I have to let things simmer and see where this exploration takes me!

 

Lime & Leaf:

We can’t wait to see where it does take you!   We are delighted at Lime & Leaf to present some of your beautiful one of a kind pieces – thank you so much for speaking with us today!

 

SHOP OUR EXCLUSIVE JUDI TAVILL VASES!