MILLY

How did you get into Ceramics?

I grew up in Brisbane and then came to Sydney to do a design Degree at COFA. It was a broad degree where you could try all sorts of design classes. As soon as I started working with ceramics I found I really liked it and liked the control you had over all the stages of the process as opposed to designing something and someone else making it - as making is the fun part. I then did an exchange in Montreal in Canada which confirmed that ceramics was the kind of material I wanted to work with. When I finished Uni I set up my studio straight away and friends/friends-of-friends started buying my work and it happened really organically from there. 

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How would you describe your design philosophy?

I want to make products that are both beautiful and practical. I find that people tell me that my work makes their dining rituals more exciting/interesting, so I enjoy making thoughtful things that are well considered and will exist happily in someone’s space.

Many creatives that I know (at one point or another) have a sense of imposter syndrome. Is this something you have experienced and how did you navigate it?

All the time! I think this is something that is really hard to avoid. I think you just have to try really hard not to compare yourself to other people and know that you are on your own journey doing your own thing.

Along the journey has your own unique style emerged?

Yes definitely. I think what pushed me to get into ceramics full time was the fact that the work I was doing was quite signature to me which is amazing because people can identify my work, but the down side of that is that I’m known for “blue marble ceramics” and every time I try and go away from that I feel pulled back to that signature style. It’s great that it’s something that still works but I sometimes question whether I am trapped by that.

What’s the biggest risk you have taken and what was the outcome?

Probably going to live in Arita (a small town in Japan) for a few months, where I did an art residency and was based at a ceramic factory where they make porcelain tablewares. I can’t fault the experience but looking back at that point in time it felt like a big thing to do and is probably the best thing I have done for my career thus far. I met really lovely skilled craftsmen and made a whole lot of new work for a show whilst also developing a new collection, so that was amazing. 

How do you regain creative drive or inspiration when you feel like you’re in a creative slump?

I feel like it’s good for me to step away from the studio rather than looking into my screen at ‘inspiring’ images - to pay more attention to the things that I like outside of the studio to see if they can inform what I do. I love going to the library and reading about ceramic techniques and other ceramic artists.

What gives you the greatest joy in what you do?

Two things. Opening the glazed kiln- even if it’s the same things I have been making for years it’s always satisfying because it’s finally finished. I also like seeing my work in people’s lives and homes - it’s a really nice feeling. 

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How do you find meaning in your work?

I suppose literally a lot of my work is functional which gives it meaning but I think being handmade and knowing exactly where it’s come from is meaningful. I also get satisfaction from knowing people are enjoying and using what I have made.

What do you believe is your greatest strength?

Being driven and hardworking.

What is the most important thing to learn to get something started or achieve success?

I think it’s important to hone in and refine what it is you want to do, and also to find a style that is signature to you and is a point of difference to anything that already exists.

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Photography by Hannah Darkins (The Unfold)

Hannah DarkinsComment