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The Fair
March 18, 2024

Sunshine Thacker escaped the High Sierra Desert prison town of Susanville, California, to pursue architecture studies at Texas A&M University, which she followed with a career in commercial real estate development. After 15 years of “navigating lawyers, liars, and leeches,” as she puts it, the ceramic artist and designer returned to her first love: clay. Her pieces include lamps and vessels as well as well as upholstered versions of her signature sculptures, fashioned into the shape of club chairs, chaises, and sofas.

As a kid, what did you answer when asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
An artist. My uncle told me I had my work cut out for me, which was rude and unsupportive. I was afraid I’d be a starving artist, so I spent 15 years developing commercial real estate before somehow extracting myself and pursuing what I love. I feel lucky to have come through that experience with my soul intact.

Which designer and/or piece of work inspires you?
I try not to follow others too closely. I’m afraid it will pollute my mind with ideas that have already been executed.

What is your design philosophy?
Go big or go home. I’m into taking risks and I want to see if I can accomplish an idea. Thus, I spend too much time on research and development.

Give us some context about where you live: How long you’ve been there and how does it influence your work?
We moved from San Antonio, Texas, to the Hudson Valley [in New York state] in the summer of 2022. My work since moving has largely been about the home and adjacent studio that I designed and am building. It has been about creating that environment—less about a collection and more about the entire diverse experience of designing and decorating that space. Thus far, I’ve personalized it with over 1,600 square feet of handmade tile. I’ve also  fabricated or designed everything in the home, including the furniture, rugs, light fixtures, front door, handmade quilts, and headboards.

Was there a moment when you realized you wanted to be a designer? If so, what was it?
I knew I wanted to be an artist when I was 6 years old. Design came to me through architecture. When I was a kid, I would draw scale models of my dream house. It’s difficult for me to separate art from design.

Which of your pieces, products, and/or projects are you most proud? Why?
I love different pieces for different reasons. The translucent porcelain lamp shade I make was a particularly big technical challenge. I am proud that I figured that out. Now that I know how to do it I’m not so into it anymore. I like pursuing new challenges.

Sunshine Thacker

What’s now?
Right now I’m writing a lot of checks to construction-related trades, coordinating materials, pricing things, gathering dimensions and specifications, negotiating contracts, etc. It’s all house, all the time.

What’s next?
I’m launching a rug line with one of my immensely talented friends.

And just curious: What is your favorite movie, band, or song?
My favorite musician is Leonard Cohen, and my favorite song is “King” by Florence & the Machine