In the fifth in our Creative Personalities series we meet Hollie Cooper, founder of Hollie Cooper Ceramics.
Hollie's bold, simple pattern and use of colour made her work catch our eye and we talked to the designer-maker about her creative process, how she gets inspired and how a little bit of chaos keeps her happy. Read on to find out more.
How and when did you decide to start your business?
I think I decided during my studies at University that I wanted to start my own business and launch a ceramic homeware brand. I’ve always liked the idea of maintaining control over where and how I work, it gives me the freedom to decide on creative projects and designs. I’ve wanted to run my own studio since I was in high school, so it felt like a natural path for me to take without too much of a conscious decision.
Lamp - 2019 Graduate Piece
What’s the first step in creating one of your ceramic pieces?
It depends on the piece, but if I was to start on one of my mugs my first step would be to throw the cylindrical shape on the potter's wheel. I would then trim the base and attach the handle the day after, followed with hand-painted surface patterns once dried. After this it’s time for both the kiln firings.
The pieces are initially fired to a slow temperature which simply transforms the clay from a super fragile piece to something that’s ‘fused’ together. This means that when it’s wet it won’t lose shape and break, but also keeps the clay body super absorbent. When the piece is at this stage, I glaze it ready to return to the kiln for the final, high temperature firing.
You’ve got a distinctive palette, what inspires the colours you choose?
I admit, I was a little apprehensive about using colour initially and a lot of my work was the raw clay body with black or white underglaze. I think the slow-paced living that lockdown forced us to have really allowed me to explore my colourful side a bit more and from there it just unleashed something! I’m now so much more colourful in my daily life, such as my home interiors and the clothes I choose. I think for my work, my inspiration comes from everything around me – but I find a lot of my favourite colourways by adapting and experimenting there and then in the moment.
What do you do when you feel uninspired?
This is a constant struggle as a creative because sometimes I lose that ‘drive’ to get making. When you feel uninspired it’s hard to force the natural flow of making. I usually have two approaches depending on my situation.
If I’ve got a deadline or a project or order to fulfil, I force myself into it (with the help of my boyfriend) and always feel heaps better knowing I achieved my to-do’s. If I leave them, it just gets stressful – not the best way to try to re-inspire yourself!
My other approach, if I have no orders or deadlines, is simply to listen to my body and look for outlets to inspire my creativity again. Sometimes just a catch-up with friends or some time out does the trick.
What’s the best thing about having a creative job?
Every day is different. Whereas some personalities are more content if the week is structured and predictable, I get super bored if I’m doing the same thing every day. In my previous job roles, such as retail or hospitality, I’d found that over time it put a low on my general day-to-day mood when my day was predictably the same, even if I really liked the job! I think it must be the unplanned chaos that keeps me happy.
I also work at a college as a 3D technician part-time, so this provides me with a steady income and the students I assist are always working on different projects.
What made you decide to offer workshops, do you think teaching comes naturally to creative people?
I’m so lucky to have a dreamy, large studio and it felt only right to share it!
By offering workshops, I hope to eventually have steady bookings that can support my making processes and cover the costs of running the space. I think that teaching can come naturally to a lot of creatives, as a lot of us are willing to share their skill with others although there are many creatives that are introverts so the idea of hosting a class full of people and being the centre of attention can be super daunting.
What’s next for Hollie Cooper ceramics?
I’m planning some more product launches in different ranges. Hopefully we’ll see a pet range or bowls and treat jars, and more dinnerware such as plates and jugs. Eeeeep!
Alongside this, I recently relaunched my studio pottery workshops before Christmas and I have high hopes to host regular sessions and bring my workshops to different cities too.
Where can our customers find out more about you?