New Designers One Year On winner Taz Pollard mixes traditional and modern styles to make stunning ceramic pieces. We talk to her about the incredible events she’s exhibited and sold at, what inspires her, and how it’s ok to make mistakes.
You studied Ceramics at University, why did you decide to go back for an MA over a decade later, and how has it changed your work?
After I graduated the first time around I set up as a studio potter for a couple of years but then took some time out to travel. When I returned from traveling I got married, had two beautiful girls and continued to teach ceramics. My passion for making never stopped and I always knew I would return to study at some point.
The fantastic thing about studying any art form is it allows you the time to immerse yourself in the subject without the constraints of running a business; you can really be indulgent and explore who you are as an artist. I think my work has always had a controversial edge but now I feel my ideas have become more coherent and innovative.
You have a very distinctive style, who and what inspires you?
Who: Li Xiaofeng because of his amazing reconstructions of fragments into garments; Ai Weiwei, particularly dropping the urn and the pieces that were dipped in industrial paint, the interplay between value and perceived value; Hella Jongerius’s work.
What: I am particularly inspired by traditional ceramics and how we value objects. Everyone has a favourite mug or teacup they like to have their tea in, ceramic objects permeate our everyday lives and I wanted to show their value by taking these everyday objects and giving them the wow factor. I love combining different materials such as plastics and rubber and of course I love colour.
What do you think have been the biggest turning points for your business?
Having come through a more traditional route of ceramics and craft fairs, being involved in New Designers after my MA was the biggest turning point for me.
I realised I could position myself more in the design world which has then led to me showing my work in outlets I would never have considered possible.
How did you get to exhibit at such amazing events, such as New Designers, Home London and Tent London?
Being selected for the Confessions of a Design Geek bursary gave me the opportunity to show my work at Home London. It was fantastic for me to be involved in a trade show and to find out how it all works before committing to do one by myself. Plus Katie Treggiden who runs coadg is brilliant at getting your work seen by the right people.
What advice would you give someone thinking of following their dream and launching their own business?
Just do it. I think we can spend far too long thinking about things – worrying about how it will work – but if you get out there and do it, you will learn so much more. Sure, you will make mistakes – everyone does (I was so relieved when I found that out), but its OK if you do. Learn from it and move on.
I have made so many mistakes it’s hard to think of just one. I have really struggled with turning some of my very innovative ideas into commercial products. Obviously, by the very nature of innovation it has never been tried before and therefore isn’t tested in the marketplace, and sometimes marrying the two can be really tricky. It is very hard to be commercial whilst remaining fresh and edgy.
I also think with ceramics particularly, so much can go wrong. This year I have ticked off almost all the technical problems you can encounter with ceramics and probably a few more! Then when you do finally get it right, it all gets smashed by a courier and you have to start again. I am sure this is why potters are such down to earth people because you have to just pick yourself up and start again. It’s also what makes it so rewarding when it does go right.
Most importantly, as a friend of mine wrote on my chalk board in my kitchen very recently (so this is as much for me as anyone):
- Ask for help
Very wise advice!
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