Xenia Taler

Xenia and Steven, and their studio space.

Xenia and Steven, and their studio space.

"Xenia and Steven's tiles have been sold and collected for over 15 years and are available in shops across North America. Their work has appeared in various media and has been featured in four books, the most recent being, Print and Pattern by Marie Perkins, Laurence King Publishing, 2010, and Olivier Dupon's The New Artisans, Thames & Hudson, 2011. Their distinctive images have been licensed to create products for companies such as Barnes & Noble and Urban Outfitters."


How did you get into your art/craft?


Steven's mother managed an upscale tile store so when I couldn't find work after graduating from film school she suggested I do custom tile painting for the store. I started in our apartment kitchen but pretty soon I got a kiln and a studio. By then Steven got into it too and he became very involved in learning all about glazes and tilemaking and developed the technical side of things while I focused on designing.

What do you like to listen to while you’re working?

Most days I'm at the computer doing administrative work so I find listening to anything distracting. When I'm helping with production or designing I listen to music. Steven listens mostly to lectures. My music taste runs to folk/rock and Steven is more into high energy stuff like early punk although he's the one who introduced me to most of the folk-y artists I like.

Outside of your medium, what other types of art/design/etc are you inspired by?

All the decorative arts, sculpture and painting, garden and landscape design, fashion, film. Literature is important to me too -it doesn't inspire me directly - but it keeps my mind occupied and gives me a lot of pleasure.

If you couldn’t be an artist/craftsperson, what would you love to be?

I don't think I would love anything else. If I had done something else, I would probably always dream or brood about being an artist. In fact since I do so little creative work as a result ofrunning this business, I brood and dream about that already.  But I might like being a therapist.

Where is your studio located?

North York

What’s your favourite thing about your city?

I love cycling through the ravines and emerging downtown or just exploring on my bike. It's made me re-discover Toronto.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

Somewhere by the sea or Barcelona.

What do you love most about Canada?

It feels safe.

What brand/artist can you not get enough of?

It's always changing but right now I'm very interested in the work of Isamu Noguchi and want to learn how to make lampshades.

What’s one thing you hope makes it big?


Do you have a favourite book?

Chance by Joseph Conrad, also love Moll Flanders (Daniel Defoe ran a tile factory) and Moby Dick, except I haven't actually finished it. It's just sitting there half-read on my night table. It requires a lot of concentration and I need to take breaks with Agatha Christie.

What's your favourite thing to do with your “down time”?

Tinker and doodle and just waste time - it's the ultimate luxury to feel like a kid with no time restrictions.

Porcelain moon ornament

Porcelain moon ornament

If you could go to dinner with ANYBODY, alive or dead, who would it be?

James Marshall the writer and illustrator. Or Kurt Vonnegut or Christopher Dresser or Halldór Laxness.  But really I am fine with just interacting with them through their art. I think I'll just go to dinner with my family.

What’s one goal you’re working towards right now?

For the last 4 years or so (with many interruptions) Steven and I have been working on a book. Its a novel for children with over 40 chapters that Steven wrote and that I illustrated. We're doing the final edit now before we hand it off to the designer. We're aiming to have it published as an e-book in the new year. There's an IG account for it where you can follow for updates and see some of the illustrations @theamazinganimalcavalcade

What’s your favourite thing to do over the holidays?

Read, sketch, watch movies and a little hiking.