Behind The Scenes With Kristen Saksa Juen

I've said it once and I'll say it a million times more, but my favorite thing about being a "blogger" (worst word) is the people I've head the pleasure of meeting through my blog. I've made "internet friends" and formed relationships, and overall have had an incredibly positive experience by sharing bits of my life online. (If you're looking for more on the positivity that can exist in the online community, check this out.)


Speaking of people that I'm glad to have met via the online world, enter Kristen Saksa Juen – a ceramic artist and designer based out of the always-awesome Austin. Kristen's work came across my radar during a Good Reads Favorite Finds in May. She reached out afterwards, and today we're going Behind The Scenes and taking a closer look at her beautiful work:

Tell me about your background. How did you get to be a ceramicist and a small business owner?

I have always had an urge to be creative. I’m also naturally drawn to the beauty of nature and the outdoors. These passions combined when I started creating in clay – I simply loved it and couldn’t stop. When I moved to Austin, the transition felt like a good time too take the leap into my own small business.


Forgive my ignorance, but what's the difference between ceramics and pottery? 

Good question! My understanding is that ceramics and pottery are both the products of clay hardened by high temperature. Pottery is a type of ceramics, referring primarily to the vessels and utilitarian items you typically see made from clay (such as bowls and cups). Ceramics is a somewhat broader term, which also includes industrial ceramic building materials. I suppose I refer to my wares as ceramics because of this slightly more encompassing feel, since I create both functional and sculptural hand built wares.

Behind The Scenes With Kristen Saksa Juen | Second Floor Flat

You live in Austin – an amazingly creative city that’s grown a good amount over the last few years. Are you from Austin originally? If not, what brought you there and how has the city’s growth affected you creatively (if at all)?

I am not from Austin originally, but I feel fortunate to have been brought here by way of my husband’s career. My move to Austin marked my decision to officially start my own small business, so Austin definitely had a big impact! Meeting like-minded friendly creatives here in Austin has definitely encouraged and supported me toward my creative goals.


What’s your favorite thing about being a designer and business owner? Least favorite thing? 

My favorite thing AND my least favorite thing about being a small business owner is being in charge of myself. I am a hard working gal and it feels so great to put all my energy toward my own goals, which I love. Although, sometimes it also hard to be the only one making all the decisions. So far I love it, I just have to remember to also ask for help when I need it.

What’s something about your job that people would be surprised to hear? 

Some of the random tools I keep at my studio include a rice paddle, a fork, and a toothbrush.


Your work is often inspired by nature and a love for the outdoors. Can you tell us a little more about your inspirations, and the role they play in your work? 

I really began to find my creative voice when I was working in Hawaii as a natural resource management field technician. When I headed out to field sites, I used to dream up ideas for ceramics forms.  The more I embraced organic inspired forms back in my studio, the more expressive and exciting my work became.

Behind The Scenes With Kristen Saksa Juen | Second Floor Flat

I love your use color – it feels very subtle and intentional. Can you talk about color in your work, and tell us about where and how you come up with your patterns and color choices? 

I love embracing the clay itself as a color choice. I work with both light and dark clay, often using the raw color in my designs. I also experiment regularly when it comes to selecting glaze colors. I test new combinations paying close attention to subtle variations to generate new ideas.


If you could collaborate with any person or brand, who would it be?

I love colorful, earthy, plant inspired designs that make a space feel both unique and at home. I would love to collaborate further on these ideas with Justina Blakeney and her inspiring design sense.


What’s the one thing you’d want people to walk away knowing about your pieces?

When people see and hold my wares, I hope they can sense my sincere joy and passion for creating handmade ceramics.

Behind The Scenes With Kristen Saksa Juen | Second Floor Flat

Just for fun:

What’s one book everyone should read? One movie?

How about a podcast instead? It’s great to listen to while creating. I love to stay curious about our world with a few episodes of RadioLab. [Editor's Note: Me too! More podcast ideas here.]


If you weren’t living in Austin, where would you live?

Colorado or Hawaii


Who do you think is killing it right now?

Lindsey of Foxwares Ceramics brings so much positive energy and enthusiasm to her beautiful work. No question, she is killing it. 


Thank you, Kristen! Learn more about Kristen's work here, shop her pieces here, and follow her here, here, and here.