Originally from Buffalo New York, Jeff Downing discovered the art of ceramics in 1982 while studying music composition at the State University of New York at Purchase. The first ceramics class he took proved so rewarding from a creative standpoint that it altered the course of his studies inspiring him to pursue a career as a ceramic artist.
Drawn to the spirit of experimentation and nonconformity that characterizes ceramic sculpture in California, Downing moved to San Francisco in 1985 and became exposed to a broad spectrum of ceramic artists in the region. He was especially inspired by the work of California ceramicist Robert Arneson. Downing studied with several well known ceramic artists in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1996 he began teaching ceramics courses at various institutions and is currently an Associate Professor and the Ceramics Area Head and at San Francisco State University.