Artist Profile: Malia Landis
Nestled up in the quiet hills of the East Bay, Malia Landis waves from her garage studio. Malia ceramic business, Salt and Earth- is a collection of mugs, plates, bowls, salt and pepper shakers and a cheeseboard all overlayed with historic maps of constellations and gold embellishments. The vibe? The vintage map in the second hand store meets refined ceramics.
Malia’s collection has been a huge success, featured in Anthropologie, and eventually made into a ceramic line with Magenta.
Here we chat with Landis about her process and inspiration, and take a look at where the magic happens.
Magenta: Tell us about the process of creating the constellation collection.
Landis: "I started screen printing on the thrown vessels in 2012 and that's when I had started working with the constellation pieces. This was mostly out of love for cartography, the love of maps.
I love the process of screen printing and the transfer of the image from paper, the translation fades a little bit and then transferring to the ceramics that fades a little bit too - each piece becomes unique in that process. Then using a stitch tool to mark a path against the night sky, and the elements of the gold highlight the stars"
Magenta: How do you find these maps for your ceramics?
Landis: "When i source the images, i like vintage maps in general because there is that human interpretation and its not tightly rendered, the maps i source are either 50-100 years old. Especially the regional maps, in my research i get to see how places have evolved and changed. Sometimes I find versions at the library, and i transfer it to black and white and then I do some digital rendering in photoshop. "
Magenta: What influenced you to create a collection that focuses on the natural world?
Landis: " I grew up with my hands in the dirt, out in natural world. As a visual artist I am always trying to interpret the world around us- and recreating beauty is kind of like something that I need to do, it makes me happy. I am lucky to do it.
I was born in the rural hills of St. Helena, Northern California, and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii. My past times included tromping the woods, gathering plants, gardening with my Dad and picking flowers with my Mom.
Magenta: How does that translate to your work?
Landis: The wonder of the natural world is something that translates to my work. I think clay is a medium that it captures my interpretation, the mark of the maker- my fingerprints are in there, all of the little imperfections and hiccups, i love that each piece isn't perfect. Perfection is overrated, and there is nothing more satisfying than making something that you utilize every day."
Magenta: How have people reacted to the constellation pieces?
Landis: "The constellations is something that the individual finds themselves in. They might connect to the sky because it represents their zodiac sign, or might be because they imagine themselves on a camping trip. There is this nostalgia for the night sky.
It's amazing how people have this connection with constellations. It's like a tie to a time and a place and through people's story I discover the night sky in a different way."
Magenta: What made you fall in love with clay and ceramics?
Landis: I love clay's inherent ability to take on any form, recording the maker's touch and mark.
Magenta: What's your favorite part about working with these mediums?
Landis: "I love creating beautiful things that get to be enjoyed on a daily basis. The ceramic objects I make become alive when they are used and enjoyed by others."
Magenta: What’s been the biggest challenge of running your business?
Landis: "Making everything come to life that is in my mind! I have so many ideas that are just brewing... my hands can't move fast enough!"
Magenta: Where can you be found when you're not working?
Landis: Hiking in the woods or at the beach.
Magenta: Tell us one thing you're excited for.
Landis: My baby boy coming this September!
Magenta: Any advice for others who are looking to begin their own creative endeavor but are unsure how to start?
Landis: Work hard, and always make. In moments of doubt, this is especially the most important.
Magenta: Finish the following sentences...My most prized possession is____?
Landis: my health
Magenta: If I wasn’t an artist I’d be ___?
Landis: a botanist
Magenta: Weekends are for ___?
Magenta: Happiness is___?
Landis: a fresh bag of clay
Magenta: A great day begins with___?
Landis: hot coffee and the radio
Magenta: I’m proud of___?
Landis: the tomatoes in my garde
Magenta: My dream dinner party guests include___?
Landis: farm animals
Love Malia's work? Shop her collection HERE