Conversations with an Artist: Tina Frey
We can identify the exact moment we fell in love with Tina Frey's serving ware. We were at a dinner party and Tina was also there as a guest. We were admiring the tall pedestal dish that reminded us of Alice in Wonderland, the long trough filled with chocolate covered almonds that elevated them so, the pedestal pie plate that made the oozing blueberry pastry more extra... And we ended up talking with Tina about her engineering background and how that informed her art. We couldn't get the porcelain-like resin fresh, modern and organic forms out of our heads, and wanted to bring more of her delightful and elegant collection to Marin.
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
I realized this at a very young age. My whole life, I was always creative: drawing, sewing, sculpting, and making things. It was a consistent part of my life–what I did whenever I had an opportunity. Something I considered fun and it was easy for me to be creative. This is still something I cannot live without.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
I like simplicity and minimal forms. I like to create something with the littlest embellishment possible while allowing the items to be functional. I also like the idea of wabi-sabi and imperfection when creating my pieces. Many pieces are sculpted in clay before being molded and cast as I like a human element. You can see where your fingers create an impression on the clay that translates to the final design.
Tell us about what influences the direction for your collection.
I am inspired by soft organic forms and shapes found in nature. At the moment, I am really enjoying being inner focused and reminding myself of what is the minimal that one would need to function. Therefore, I like the idea of creating simple pieces that are multipurpose and that one can get creative with its use. When the item is not in use, I like it to be sculptural when empty.
How has your work developed over time?
I used to focus on mainly making things with a function or purpose. However, I have recently started to appreciate that things without function can also be beautiful and it is nice to make something purely for the sculptural nature.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
My Nikon D750 camera. I really enjoy taking photos of my designs since this is the best way to share the overall creations with everyone via images.
Do you collect anything?
I didn't think I really collected anything. But when I look around my studio and at home, there seems to be a lot of animal sculptures, figurines, and sheep. I seem to gravitate to these inanimate objects because my inner child channels a personality to them and they become animate to me. I also collect and love fashion and have a huge closet of shoes.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
I love looking at architecture and design. I love architecture by Tadao Ando since he is supposedly self taught and I like how it is possible to come up with ideas of your own that do not follow the conventional school of development and creates something new. I am also currently obsessed with the Teshima Art Museum by artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa. The museum resembles a water droplet at the moment of landing and seems so incredibly poetic.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
One should always follow their heart and instincts and don't be afraid to dream. I had a winding journey to end up where I am now and I am thankful for the breadth of experience coming through this route. But it is also important not to be afraid to steer away from the safe path to the unknown to create your own path.
We love the element of surprise in Tina's designs: the forms that are meant to delight and the bright colors and translucency she experiments with.
Come check out our Tina Frey collection of hand-sculpted tableware and smile for yourself.
~ Bonnie & Jeffrey
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