Olivia Walker | Episode 377
Olivia Walker originally studied English Literature and History in Edinburgh, but after graduating she took a summer job in a craft gallery and fell in love with the ceramics she was selling. This led Olivia on a ten year journey in which she went to Japan and lived with a potter, completed an MA in ceramics, and completed a year long part-time apprenticeship with Julian Stair. Olivia is now working as a ceramicist and mainly based in Barcelona, but with another studio in Devon, England, which is waiting for her to return to it.
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Creativity, do you think it is something you are born with or something that you develop?
I think you are born with that. I think you do develop it but I think often it is developed in you like at school. I have so many friends that think they can’t draw because in school they thought there was a way to do it and they couldn’t do it like that. So I think it needs to develop but I think everyone has it. So many jobs have creativity, it’s not just drawing or writing. When I was teaching lessons I could be creative in the way I was planning the lesson. It is part of most parts of our lives.
How do you think children are discouraged from creativity?
I guess when there are grades attached to things and there is a right way and wrong way of doing something. I think especially when kids are young, I think that is probably a bit detrimental to their creativity. I think fear is the worst thing for creativity. So kids think, Oh I can fail at this, I’m going to do it wrong, or my friend is way better than me and I can’t do it like that. Then that fear makes people want to stop and not play anymore. I think it is not necessarily the fault directly of schools it is just a symptom of the way we test and compare ourselves to each other.
What do you think schools could do differently to help develop a creative mind or a creative lifestyle?
I think they need to radically change the system. I mean schools are creative places. I don’t want to be sounding judgmental. I think so much good stuff happens in schools, but I just think testing kids when they are really young, creating that fear of failure through testing basically. I don’t have the answer, but there are probably models from different countries where they are kind of doing better at that.
You came through that system. How did you recapture creativity for your life?
I really loved art at school and in the UK up to 18 you do your A levels and I did do art and I did do photography. They were always my favorite subjects. Then I stopped all of that when I studied much more academic subjects because I was so busy with these other things. It was through discovering ceramics and clay that I kind of got that back into my life. That really brought me where I am today.
How do you develop courage to be an artist and a successful artist?
I don’t know the answer to that. I think for some people it is probably really easy they just go for it and it probably depends on the personality of the individual person. I think it helps when you get good feedback about your work from people. Whether that is online or in person at exhibitions. You see that people value these things and the skills that you bring to it. That gives you confidence to go forward and keep going.
How did you find the perfect price point for your work?
I am still working on that. That is something even at the moment I am thinking a lot about. I find galleries really helpful with that because they know the clientele and think this would be the right price point. I like to have a really good and open conversation about what they would think. I have sold work too cheaply before in terms of the hours it took me to make something. I guess you get to the point where you just can’t do that because you don’t make enough per hour.
A practical question: How do you dress for a show? Are you real casual or do you dress up to be able to match the customers?
I dress quite comfortably. I mean I don’t dress wildly differently. I guess a little bit smart. Just my nicer things. Not that I go buy a whole new wardrobe or wear high heels or anything like that. I just wear my clothes, but the nicer end of it. I just think it is good to feel comfortable. I don’t think anyone is expecting you to be really fancy. I think they just want you to be comfortable and be yourself.
What is the perfect date for you and your boyfriend?
I like going to the cinema. It’s a very boring answer. Dates, I don’t know, having a meal, I don’t know I am always in the studio, we don’t go on dates. (laughter). Going to the cinema that is my answer.