There are those times when you see something on the internet and instantly fall head over heels in love, well…that happened with me and Julia’s awesome ceramic work. With bold colours and imperfect but perfectly formed designs Julia’s ceramic collections are aesthetic forces to be reckoned with.
As Julia mentions below she reacted to a hole in the market for functional artful products and she was so so right. You know what is hard to find? GOOD WALL HOOKS!!! These wonderful handmade hooks fill that void that is usually just filled with horrible minimalist metal or weird pine wall hooks perfectly.
Merging her artistic crafts perfectly, whether it’s her installation art or ceramic lines; each are a clear extension of herself, her passions and inspirations. As Julia discusses below, she wants these crafts (and the crafting/ small business world) to create a sustainable and community driven world, imagining a more localised economy where independent creators and businesses are supported (which is something, fingers crossed, I have seen coming into fruition over the past few months.)
Please read on, Julia has given one of my favourite and most insightful bunch of answers to the five questions!
- Tell us about yourself and your brand.
Hello! My name is Julia Elsas. I am a visual artist and currently live in Brooklyn, NY. I work with ceramics, printmaking, installation and performance. My first NY solo show is open now until November 28th at Cooler Gallery in Brooklyn. I also have a line of ceramic goods which include wall hooks, menorahs, necklaces and vases. The ceramic products I make either started as small sculptural elements in larger installations, or they were created as functional artful objects that I couldn’t find elsewhere. The first pieces I officially released into the world as ceramic ‘products’ outside of my visual art were ceramic necklaces. Over time I began making and selling ceramic wall hooks, menorahs, and tube vases. I initially marketed my ceramic product line under a different name, but last year I switched back to releasing everything under my name. I hope my art can lead people to the smaller objects for sale and visa versa.
- What are your Inspirations?
My list of inspirations is endless. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and spent summers driving around the southeastern part of the United States visiting “folk artists” like Howard Finster, Mose Toliver and places like Ave Maria Grotto. My mom gave me a copy of Amiri Baraka’s “Hunting is not the Heads on the Wall” (published in 1964 when he went by Le Roi Jones) when I was in high school, and it profoundly affected my ideas about art and life and how, for many/most non-western cultures, the two are completely intertwined and inseparable. Other inspirations: Nina Simone; Hilma af Klint; Gees Bend quilts; Shaker Gift Drawings; Mexican textiles by Josefa Ibarra; Sophie Calle; The Discipline of Do Easy, by William S. Burroughs and Gus van Sant; and it continues…
3.Lets chat about social media- a hindrance or help?
Social media is a terrible and dangerous platform if you are looking for sincere human interaction and connection. It has contributed to a vast amount of misinformation and divisiveness in our country and around the world. On the other hand (!), Instagram has been 100% helpful for marketing my work, getting new stocklists, discovering new artists, etc.
4.Where would you like your business to be in a few years and do you have any advice?
I am working on some large orders (very large for me!) this holiday season for new stocklists. I feel fortunate to have the work, especially at a time when so many people are out of jobs, but long term bigger isn’t necessarily better for me. I’m happy to keep my business small and make my products mostly in-house. It’s important for me to keep the quality of craftsmanship high and stay true to myself as an artist. In the next few years I would love to work on limited edition projects with other artists, designers and artful brands. As my business grows, it’s important for me to figure out how to create sustainable long-term ways to give back to my community. I love what artists are doing in the Level Up Project!
Some of the best advice I have gotten is to take the leap and get your work out there! Your website and line sheet don’t have to be perfect. You can always tweak designs, prices, and products as you go. You have to spend money to make money – especially if you are investing in making ceramic products to sell! Take a risk and invest in yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice along the way.
5. Who are your favourite small businesses or creatives doing interesting things?
There are so many, but first and foremost,
Love and Victory is run by my friend Meg Morehouse. Meg designs barware and a range of cocktail-related goods, but she is also a fierce activist and a constant inspiration.
Sheena Sood was a student of mine at the Lower East Side Print Shop, and I love watching her clothing brand, Abacaxi grow! I don’t have any of her pieces yet, but I’m eyeing a few items from her latest collection.
I am so impressed by Sarah Hussaini / Not Work Related and how she grabbed the pandemic by the horns and moved a wheel into the bathroom of her Brooklyn apartment to continue throwing pots when everything was shut down. I was lucky enough to snag one of her ceramic mugs made during that time. They sell out in a few minutes!
I subscribed to Michelle Ishikawa’s Okimoto flower share this summer, and it brought me beauty and wonderment during a strange and stressful time. Michelle says it better than I can on her website: “She strives to give back to the earth as much as we collectively borrow from it, and is dedicated to furthering discourse on how to mindfully steward our environment and radically dream of a more equitable and just economic future.”
I’m obsessed with Anders Hamilton’s Crater Cups recently released through BKLYN Clay. I want them all.