Ingrid Tufts is a ceramic designer and maker from Melbourne, Australia. For many years she worked in IT, and it was not until she was 35 years old that she began studying ceramics, as many of us do, in an evening class.
Discovering clay can be an epiphany for many people but for Ingrid it was a career changer and today she produces a range of tableware and decorative ceramics for restaurants, homeware designers, retailers and collectors under her label Tufts.
Ingrid ‘throws’ and slipcasts her pots in porcelain and stoneware clay bodies and describes her aesthetic as a coming together of simple functionality and playfulness.
I’m practically jumping out of my skin that Ingrid’s flying up to the studio on Saturday, June 20, to present a workshop specialising in Business and Concept Development for makers and designers. This inspiring workshop will provide practical direction and advice for fledgling and established creators of all kinds.
Claire Atkins: Welcome to the cyber studio Ingrid!
Ingrid Tufts: Hi Claire and thanks for having me.
C.A: You were working in IT before you discovered clay as an adult, can you describe how that unfolded?
I.T: My journey into clay was a natural progression. Getting serious happened quite slowly, from an evening class, to a Saturday co-op and before I knew it I was enrolled in TAFE part-time. I studied at Box-Hill TAFE between 2006 and 2008. I didn’t complete the Diploma course because I had a limited amount of time, in the end it was either pursue my own practice or study and I chose the studio. From there I slowly gave up my day job, one day at a time.
C.A: Does your background in technology help your studio work today?
I.T: It’s pretty handy. I can get around images and produce my own marketing material and keep my website up to date. Sometimes though, I wish I had an accounting background!
C.A: What does a typical week look like?
I.T: Each day there is a list of things to do. It might be throwing in the morning, glazing in the afternoon with a little admin in between. I usually take half a day each week to do deliveries and meet clients. Sometimes I work in the evenings or on the weekends as jobs require. The kilns are usually busy at night and on the weekends.
C.A: You’re well known for producing ceramics in collaboration with other artists. What’s your favourite collaboration to date? What’s the best thing about collaboration? What’s the worst?
I.T: Fortunately, all the illustrators I have worked with on projects have been great. Customer management can be a little more tricky in the design process, but overall I find it wonderful to have access to another source of creativity. It can make things new and fresh.
C.A: You’ve also been commissioned to produce ceramics on some great projects for restaurants and you’ve had some impressive clients including Opera Australia. Can you describe the processes involved in this kind of relationship?
I.T: Usually, I’ll put forth a number of ideas and see what the client responds to. Then we work up an idea, sometimes making maquettes or little test pieces so we can see how they work. Clients are all different so I try to be responsive to their needs.
C.A: What advice would you give someone who is dreaming of working as a studio potter?
I.T: Be prepared to work hard!
C.A: What’s your advice for studio potters who feel like their work or their creative business is languishing?
I.T: I’d say, try something new and take a risk. If I get a bit tired of the studio I make sure that I make something new or start a new glaze experiment.
C.A: Who do you think will benefit from your workshop and do you think it’s relevant for makers and designers of all kinds of objects?
I.T: Well, I think this workshop is perfect for anyone who wants ideas, inspiration and encouragement. Although I mainly use examples from the ceramics world (because it’s what I know best), the workshop is equally relevant to other makers.
C.A: Thanks so much for taking the time to hang out in the cyber studio today Ingrid!
And, if you’re a maker or designer of objects looking to kick start your creative business, or give it a good kick in the pants, check out the workshop details here or head straight to the online shop to secure your place. There’s an early bird price of $95 until Friday April 18, after that the price goes up to $125! Don’t be shy to contact me about the workshops via the contact page, below in the comments, on Facebook or Instagram.