After studying digital media, design and illustration, Kenesha Sneed applied her Southern California aesthetic to ceramics. The result is a celebration of good coastal vibes with optimistic bursts of color. Now she works from her home studio in Los Angeles creating carefree designs across disciplines.
You have your own studio where you work alone—was that by accident or by design?
It was by happenstance that a girlfriend of mine had a studio in downtown LA, and she invited me to set up there. I came into her space and it kind of just fell into place perfectly. I ended up sharing the studio with her for the better part of a year before she had to move away.
I took over the space and stayed there for a while before I moved to a more residential location. Now I have a studio here at my house with everything consolidated into one place and I can do all my design and ceramics work from home.
Did going from sharing a studio to working in your own space change the nature of the work?
I think that my work as a whole is constantly evolving and changing. I’m always thinking of different ideas, and I think that’s partly because I have a design and illustration background, enabling me to switch things up all the time.
I can’t help but play with new ideas and I would say that having my own space does leave more room to explore and mentally clear my head a bit. In some respects I have more creative freedom, but that said, it is good to have people around and it’s important to find that balance.
You’ve done a number of collaborative projects—how do they come about?
With motion graphics design, which is what my background is in, I don’t always have an option as to who the client is. But when it’s an illustration job, I mostly work directly with the client, so I know more about who they are. With ceramics, I know exactly who I’m working with because I’m familiar with the shop. I build a closer rapport with those I communicate with and there are always different levels to it, but with my ceramics I like to work with smaller businesses and just all-around nice people.
Some people I collaborate with and some I sell to, so it depends on that relationship, but it’s easier to design pieces for those who I admire. I always try to work with people I connect to, people that share similar ideas.
What is it about Southern California that inspires you?
I grew up in the high desert of Southern California, and I’ve lived most of my life in the LA area. I spent a few years living in Venice Beach, close to where my college was located. My work is a mix of that overall vibe: carefree and fun. I like to make things that emphasize positive qualities, and I think that translates into my work.
What do you make of the line that is sometimes drawn in the sand between high art and low art?
I think it depends on your individual perspective as to what you consider high or low art. For me, with making ceramics, there’s such a craftsmanship to it that it feels like my own sort of therapy. It feels good to create it and if I can share it with other people, that’s great.
I don’t really hold anything I design to anyone else’s standards. If I did, I wouldn’t create anything. You have to continuously go to the beat of your own creativity and let that drive you.