Born in 1952 in Chicago, Illinois, I grew up in Los Angeles, California,
where I was surrounded by ceramics from an early age. My family were part
owners of several commercial whiteware ceramic manufacturing companies.
Spending my childhood around ceramic factories, it was an obvious choice
for me to go into the family business.
After taking a pottery class at a local clay studio in Venice Beach
while in high school, I went to the University of California, Irvine in
1970, where I studied biology and sociology. Because of my interest in
clay, I also took an introductory studio ceramic course with John Mason.
After a semester of college, I took a summer job at one of my father's
factories, located in Pasadena, California. I decided that I wanted to
continue working in the family business, so in the fall of 1970, when
I was 18 years old, I quit school and became the factory foreman and manager
at Wildwood Ceramics, which I ran until 1972. Two years of running a small
commercial ceramics factory was an apprenticeship that has since proved
invaluable in my career.
During my time at Wildwood, I was still making wheel thrown pottery.
Having decided that the studio side of ceramics was of greater interest
to me, I left the factory in 1972 to attend the Kansas City Art Institute,
from which I received my BFA in ceramics in 1975. I then went on to graduate
school at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University,
where I received my MFA in 1977.
I established my first clay studio in 1977 in Guilford, Connecticut,
with my sister-in-law Jane Gustin. We both shared the studio together
for five years, where we each produced functional and sculptural pottery.
During this time, I was invited to teach at Parson's School of Design
in New York, where I was an instructor in the Crafts Department from 1978
to 1980. In 1980, I began teaching at the Program in Artisanry at Boston
University, where I was Assistant Professor of Ceramics. In 1985, the
Program in Artisanry moved to the Swain School of Design in New Bedford,
Massachusetts, where I became Associate Professor of Ceramics and head
of the ceramics program. Swain School subsequently merged in 1988 with
Southeastern Massachusetts University, now the University of Massachusetts,
It was during my tenure at Boston University, in 1982, that I moved my
studio from Connecticut to South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, where I purchased
and renovated an 8000 square foot building that was an old chicken farm.
This building became both my studio and my living space.
In 1986, I became involved with a small group of artists interested
in saving and preserving an old brick factory in southeast Maine. With
Peg Griggs' generous donation of the property, she, George Mason, Lynn
Duryea and myself founded the Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts, in
Newcastle, Maine. Watershed is now thriving, offering summer and winter
residencies to artists from around the world.
I became interested in the
production of tile in 1994, when my wife and I began to design our new
home. I made all of the tile for the new house, and out of that experience
I started Gustin
Ceramics Tile Production in 1996. The tile company offered me another
way to work with ceramics, and has grown significantly in the last couple
of years. The tile is represented nationally by architects, designers
and tile showrooms.
I was Associate Professor of Ceramics and the senior faculty of the
ceramics program during my ten year tenure at the University of Massachusetts,
Dartmouth. After twenty years of teaching and working with hundreds of
undergraduate and graduate students, I retired from academia in the summer
of 1999 to devote my full time and energies to my studio work and my tile