Maker Profile: Pawena Thimaporn
Hi Pawena! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Pawena Thimaporn. I was born and raised in Thailand until I moved to the US when I was 24. I live in LA with my husband and our 2 boys.
What was your first job?
What led you to begin Pawena Studio?
In 2015, the design studio where I had been working at for the past 15 years closed. I had always wanted to start something on my own and it seemed like it was a good time to start. There were many things I wanted to do while I was still working full time; I had been taking ceramic classes here and there and for some reason it naturally, organically became what I wanted to do full time.
You are incredibly talented in multiple creative endeavors (photography, design, ceramics). Did you always know that you were drawn to creative work? How did you pick up all of these skills?
Thank you very much! For as long as I can remember, I have always been drawing or making things. I think part of it have has to do with the way I grew up and was raised. I grew up in a rural area in Thailand. My parents have a plantation in Thailand where I spent my childhood in nature, running around in the forest all day. I played with things I found and made toys out of them. We didn’t have running water or electricity back then, so I spent most of my time helping my mom around the house, drawing, helping the workers planting and fixing things. While that environment and those experiences may not seem like things that taught me to become a designer or artist, I believe that they taught me to have confidence and skill with my own hands and have a good sense of how things work.
Being around people who are doing creative work who are excellent in their fields also helped shaped my skills both when I was in design school and when I was still working full time. I learned so much from people around me, especially those skills that I had not been interested in at the beginning, but they became great tools to help support what I am doing at the moment.
In terms of your ceramics, can you go a bit into your design process? How do you decide on shape/color/etc?
I personally like simple forms. I usually start sketching ideas out on my sketchbook for new projects. Since my work is 3D, most of the time I adjust the pieces while I am making them. I work a lot with simple cylinder shapes. I like to just sit there, stare at them and draw directly on the clay.
I recently came to the realization that I like to use warm colors. I think it might have something to do with where I came from. There are a lot of warm and bright colors in Thai culture, but I prefer a simple and modern look, so I kind of combine the two together.
Why do you think it’s important to shop small and support local makers?
When we shop local and small, we know where the product was made, how it was made, and who made the item. It helps strengthen our community and also give us more choices of unique products besides those we can find from big box stores where everything looks the same wherever you go.
What is your favorite thing about your workspace?
My studio is a small one car size garage at home, but it is right next to my kitchen. I love the fact that I can work while my boys are playing in the house or with me in the garage. Another thing is that I love working alone, but with my garage door open, I can still hear and see a glimpse of my neighbors walking with their kids or their dogs. It is also a space where I am the most “present.” I forget about my past, I don’t don’t worry about my future, and I only focus on what I am doing.
Was there any particular person who helped shape your career in formative way?
There are so many people who have been very supportive since I decided to start Pawena Studio, but a friend of mined, Rudy Manning from Pastilla Studio, is the one who always gives me some good, formative advice about business aspects that I had no clue about before.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
Working with clay is a simple, straightforward process. I like how little the process takes to create something and you can pretty much design and make something all by yourself from start to finish. There is so much potential from just a bag of clay.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you faced when starting your own studio?
I used to work full time, so I would get a paycheck every two weeks for many years. Now my way of working is different and I am still learning about so many things I don’t know about (especially the business side and paperwork, etc.) while trying to work at the same time.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
When I work with other women, I feel like I am with my sisters – younger and older. Women understand each other in a way that men aren’t able to. It is easier to talk to one another, know how the other feels, and relate to similar issues. But, in the end, I think it is important for every one of us to support each other anyway regardless of their their gender.
What creative women do you find inspiring?
I always get inspired when I see someone have so much passion about something that they forget about their problems or any issues they might have. Someone who is able to find positive aspects among the problems they face and still be able to laugh and enjoy life, doing what they love.
What have you learned from owning your business that you think can apply to any creative endeavor?
There is no such a thing as a mistake. Everything is part of the process and it can only make you better and stronger.
What are you looking forward to in the coming months?
I love to experiment and come up with new designs, but I would love to do more of that in the next couple months. I also want to organize my space, which is getting really crowded, since things will be even crazier toward the end of the year.
How do you manage a work/life balance?
It has been difficult since I just started working on my own not too long ago. But, I don’t think it’s easy for any mother who has to work, whether you work full time for other people or have your own business. I am lucky to have such supportive family and friends. My husband always helps around the house and takes care of the boys when he can. My mom, who lives in Thailand, sometimes stays with us here in LA and has been such a great help. She is so good with the boys and I hardly have to cook when she is here with us. I cannot imagine I would be able to do this without their help.
What are some of your favorite places in LA?
My house, Malibu Creek State Park, Pasadena City College flea market, California Nursery Specialties, Cactus Ranch, Descanso Gardens, Leo Carrillo State Beach and Thai restaurants in Hollywood where I go eat with a group of my girlfriends.