Inventory Interview

Recently, I was contacted by Inventory magazine to talk a bit about my creative process and inspirations. Below is a bit of a sneak peak into the interview. Stay tuned for the full article, coming out next month.

"Based in the seaside city of Victoria, BC, Sarah Johnson creates small batch ceramics in her studio. We visited her to get a closer look into her creative process and find out why she draws her inspiration from nature and earth elements. Read on to find out how Sarah discovered her love of ceramics, what she does on her off time, and why shopping small is important to her."


What originally drew you to creating ceramics?

I've always been drawn to the earth and its various forms—from spending many summers gardening and growing a love for plants, to collecting rocks and sand from around the world, to learning how to hand-build clay in high school, I often have my hands in the mud in one way or another. When a good friend of mine asked if I would like to join her in a pottery class a few years ago, I kind of knew instinctively that I would enjoy it. It's been a love affair ever since.

Where do you pull inspiration from for your collections?

I live on an island in a city that's surrounded by water on three sides with remnants of old growth forests, mountains to the north and south, craggy shorelines, and epic sky gazing from endless beaches. It's hard not to pull inspiration from the beautiful west coast nature that surrounds me. I'm also influenced by traditional Japanese forms and the lightness of Scandinavian design while being rooted in this beautiful landscape I live in. And my dog Isla.

When you are not in your studio, how do you spend your time?

Thinking about when I can get to the studio next (just kidding, sort of). I have a lab/shepherd dog named Isla who I try to bring everywhere with me, so a lot of my time is spent doing things with her and my partner; we surf, sail, hike, beachcomb, canoe, and go on lots of road trips with her. When I'm not doing those things, I'm usually cooking or eating. Victoria is chock full of great farmers markets, coffee shops and restaurants, so it's easy to eat well here.

Can you tell us a bit more about your creative process?

It depends on what I'm making, but if it's something I haven't made before or want to tweak the design of, I usually start out by sketching it out and jotting down any notes or thoughts. Pottery is largely about minute muscle memory, so drawing it out on paper first really helps me visualize what movements I need to make when I'm creating new pieces. Breathing is a must, music is a must, a window is a must, and having Isla at my feet makes it perfect. 

Do you have any tips for other small business owners?

When I first started out, I made it my goal to say yes to every opprotunity—to all the markets, commissions, store orders, special events, and collaborations. Although that was great in some ways, the biggest thing I have learned is to establish boundaries. Especially with time. It's okay to be more selective now—I can't say yes to everything, and I can't spend every hour of every day at the wheel. Spending time away from your business is nourishing and grounding.

Why is shopping small/local important to you?

I'm extremely lucky to live in a city where people seem to really value supporting small local businesses, and in a time when shopping small is an international movement. One of the most important things to me is community; anytime someone supports a local artist or a small family run business, they're feeding the community—both literally and socially. Knowing whose hands made your favourite cup, bowl, or planter makes it so much more special.