Surving Studios designs and produces bas-relief art tile with a nature theme. The tiles with frogs, lizards, bugs and fish were introduced in 1991 at the Crafts Fairs and in 1992 at the International Tile Exposition in Miami. At that time very little tile art was available and none with frogs and lizards. It was an immediate success.
Natalie Surving sculpts the animal designs and Richard specializes in the human form. The company also does custom sculpture and tile for major installations.
Surving Studios evolved from the careers of Natalie and Richard. Natalie was an art teacher. In 1971 she opened a pottery school and workshop on Staten Island, NY and evolved her own way of working with clay. By 1974 demand for her ceramic animal sculptures required her full time attention.
Richard was a NYC advertising art director and part time inventor. He joined the company in 1979 when they moved to the country and the Studio required his talents full time.
The Survings have worked together since they graduated from The Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles in 1960.
Natalie has been a full time ceramist since 1969. Natalie’s pottery slowly evolved from being pots with animal designs into realistic sculptures of animals. In 1981 she began to specialize in reptiles, amphibians, insects, and fish. Her methods and her subjects were unorthodox. She used potter’s techniques to create realistic porcelain sculpture.
Natalie’s methods of using porcelain combined with her spontaneous style of creating animal sculpture earned her an international reputation. Her sculpture has received three awards from the Society of Animal Artists, has been sold at Christie’s Animal Art Auction, and reproduced in limited edition by Boehm Porcelain.
Richard worked for many years as a graphic artist and professor of graphic and computer art. Originally he assisted Natalie by building the studio and the displays and by designing the marketing materials. He sculpts the female form and has done a series of nudes for the company including life-sized works.
Surving Studio installations are seen at Disney Animal Kingdom, Epcot Center, three bridges to Treasure Island near Tampa, FL, the Branson Missouri Airport, the North Carolina State Aquariums, the Brookfield Zoo in chicago, Several casinos in Las Vegas and Connecticut; amongst many other public and private installations.
In 1979 the studio moved to an abandoned gristmill in Middletown NY and the Survings settled in the old miller's home, next door. Richard spent eight years renovating the historic mill. Then, in February of 1987, it burned to the ground. The summer of 87 was spent rebuilding, but by November it was far from being a functional work space. Winter came early that year.
In desperation and low on funds the Survings packed their pickup truck with some camping gear and art supplies, and headed for Mexico where the living was cheap and the weather mild. They were given mercy, space, and facilities to continue sculpting in the Vasquez tile factory in Delores Hidalgo, Guanjaunto.
From that experience evolved the tile business, a winter home and another studio.
The NY gristmill houses the production, warehousing, and distribution for Surving Studios.