Just before Covid-19 hit the fan, I spent a day with textile artist Karin Hall of Blu Byron. Karin has more than 40 years experience teaching visual arts in Australian schools, and for the last five years she has been creating stunning clothing and homewares using plant-based indigo dyes from her backyard studio in Byron Bay.[Read more…]
On Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 August, more than 140 ceramic studios around Australia will open for the fourth annual Australian Ceramics Open Studios.
I’m opening my studio and I.CANNOT.WAIT to meet you all! I’m also SUPER excited to say that Vicki Grima is joining me in the studio to host two workshops and to present an artist talk!
In ceramic circles the world over, Vicki Grima needs no introduction, and I can see her cringe as I say this…but, she’s kind of a big deal. 😉
For ten days in February 2016 I travelled through India to meet traditional Rajasthani potters with a small group of clay enthusiasts led by Australian potter Sandra Bowkett.
At the end of our tour, on the Yamana River between the Holy City Vrindavan and Delhi, Sandra asked me if I missed anything back home. Her words, and the adventure she led us on inspired the short story below.
My story begins at the end of my tale as I’m settling into my seat on flight SQ403 from Delhi to Singapore.
It’s almost 10pm at night and the plane is packed, but for the first time in over two weeks of travel through Rajasthan with a group of potters, I feel like I’m on my own.
Last year, I was listening to Richard Fidler and author Elizabeth Gilbert on the Conversation Hour, and my ears pricked up because of how she spoke about the nature of creativity, and in particular how she talked about the cultivation of curiosity rather than preach a sermon on following your dreams.
Helloooo! It’s a new year, and I’m trying to get excited about getting back to work after the holidays, but the weather is too good, and I’ve become obsessed with stand-up paddle-boarding and reading. Sometimes together. I’m thinking of going pro 😉
I have very limited experience as a reading-stand-up paddle-boarder. A few hours experience to be precise. So when artists like me are fantasising about making irrational career choices like this – as if being an artist isn’t silly enough – it’s a good idea to clean up and have a studio sale! [Read more…]
Places have been quickly snapped up by a diverse group of foodies and clay enthusiasts from around the globe. There is ONE place remaining in this workshop.
For centuries, islands have captured our imaginations, they are magical places inhabited by mermaids, pirates, fairies, and more recently – much to the delight of my two sons – they are the petri dish of mad geneticists and their dinosaurs!
For many years, I lived on an island north of Sydney. Island living is every bit as idyllic as you imagine. However, I discovered that it was not just the physical beauty of the island that inspired me, but equally it was the challenges we each faced, that inspired creative thinking and helped shape a diverse, vibrant, and resilient community.
Today’s post is the final in my Bali series, and I’m talking to Janet DeNeefe, long time islander, internationally renowned restaurateur, writer, festival director and, one time student of ceramics 😉 [Read more…]
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.
Art is constantly reinventing itself. A potter friend of mine, Adriana Christianson recently shared an article on her Artist’s Facebook page, ‘The Death of the Artist and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur’, by William Deresiewicz.
It’s a good article that talks about the changing shape of the artist over the centuries; from apprentice craftsman, to artisan, to solitary genius, to the artist as creative entrepreneur. Andy Warhol was perhaps the supreme businessman artist, the notion of the artist as creative entrepreneur is hardly a new thing, however, the article resonates with many artists today and particularly with those who are not only makers but are also the promoters and salespeople of the works they create.
“…Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” Andy Warhol from THE Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)
There’s a good discussion on the nature of Art that raises questions about its future in an age of social media. For me, social media has opened up opportunities to talk to other makers that might never have happened otherwise. I have discussions on Facebook and Instagram with potters around the world about problems we’re having with glazes, we share prized recipes for porcelain casting slip and personal stories too. There are benefits for the maker but Deresiewicz warns of a kind of dumbing down of Art. What do you think? Has the democratisation of creativity and taste on social media made everyone an artist? Is it increasingly difficult for artists to make authentic works if they’re immersed in an online culture of being ‘liked’ and followed? Deresiewicz fears that artists will spend more time looking over their shoulders creating work that is eager to please, that is more like entertainment and less like art.
Andy Warhol: I think everybody should like everybody.
Gene Swenson: Is that what Pop Art is all about?
Andy Warhol: Yes, it’s liking things.
Do you think it’s possible to be an artist who is fully engaged with thousands of followers on social media and make art that does not seek to please? I’d love to know your thoughts or experiences.
And in the spirit of the creative entrepreneur, I’m running a series of workshops in my studio from April to June (did you see what I did there? I’m being a creative entrepreneur right now) that touch on some of these ideas and pressures facing artists. You’ll meet some inspiring writers, artists and craftspeople who are negotiating their way through the interwebs and yet still manage to make good art while they make a living.