Zoë Johnson | Episode 272
Zoë Johnson is a ceramicist living and working on the Big Island of Hawaii. Much of her work occupies the space between functional and decorative, her vessels are embraced as physical representations of memory or gratitude, evoking a fleeting sea breeze or the salty reminiscence of a day at the beach.
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Why did you choose clay?
It records the touch of the maker like no other medium. It is incredibly forgiving in its soft form. If you don’t like what you have made you can ball it up and start over, you haven’t ruined a canvas. You make three-dimensional things out of it. I have always been somebody who loves to tinker and make things, useful things or thiings that have a physical presence that you can pick up and move around and look at from all the angles. Clay is ideally suited for all of those things I love.
When you are asked to describe your work how do you do it? What do you say?
I say in my work I attempt to capture a bit of the ocean’s magic in porcelain.
Describe for me the importance of building relationship with your customers?
It is the most important thing. And we talked about this a little bit,but those person to person relationships, it is mind-boggling to me that someone who met me on their phone on Instagram would be in my neighborhood on a family vacation and take a day out of their schedule and come to my studio to chat and have a conversation and connect with me as their maker.
What are your top marketing strategies?
Newsletter and Instagram.
What criteria do you use to decide what to post on your Instagram feed?
It’s got to be a quality photo and it’s got to be relevant and reasonably current. The image has to be clear, in focus, well lit, evocative of some kind of response. capturing the mood. I like to stage my pots on the beach so I am capturing that mood of the ocean.
Do you ever feel like an imposter?
I did struggle with that years ago.
And how did you get over it?
Two summers ago I stepped back from clay completely for maybe six weeks. I had this waaterfall of creativity with painting and collage and figure drawing. I took an oil panting class. every medium I have been wanting to put my hands in I got my hands in. I was a completely beginner where it was OK to be a beginner. I just felt this rush of fresh energy that had been at that time lagging in clay a little bit and what I learned is that an artist is anyone who, whether they are full-time, whether they do it for a living, whether they even get paid, is somebody who takes their creativity that’s in their brain and uses it to manifest it in an outward manner.
If you could apply magic to your work, what magic would you apply to it?
Un-breakablity. Imperviousness to breakage. I could just slap a label on it and ship it anywhere.
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