As the latest series of the popular TV show The Great Pottery Throw Down reached it's Grand finale on Sunday night, I caught up with aspiring ceramic artist DMoonCeramics, on how she tries to capture a sense of calm yet playfulness in her own ceramic collection.
I’m Dani, from DMoonCeramics and I make a range of modern and stylish ceramic homeware, with an emphasis on texture and colour. I’m based in Kent and make all of my work out of my garden studio, whilst also teaching pottery lessons at a private studio in the Kentish countryside too.
What inspired you to work in your chosen profession?
I actually first learnt ceramics at school when I was 14, I took both Art GCSE and A level, both specialising in ceramics. As the only pupil in my year to choose ceramics I enjoyed 4 years of 1-on-1 lessons, allowing me to explore my style, gain exposure to a wide range of artists, and also learn the basics and beyond. However, I always felt pushed into academics, I was probably considered by my parents and my school to be a bright child and so this always took precedent. As is often the way with smart children, my creative ‘hobby’ was sidelined and I was always encouraged into books and convinced that I should be following a career more suited to my intelligence, whatever that even means. So I went to Cambridge for my undergraduate and then UCL for my Masters after that, keeping up some ceramics in my limited spare time. As I drew towards the end of my degrees I was making so many pots that I just had to start selling some as my collection was getting out of control. I wanted to start improving my skills and making work that I was proud of and fulfilled my long neglected creative side. I set up an Etsy store to push myself to get better and reduce the enormous pile in my then shed of a studio. Things have grown and grown in the last 3 years to where I am now a full-time artist, spending my time spilt between making my own work and the other half teaching. I think it is so important to be able to inspire others into ceramics and pass on all that I have been so lucky to learn.
Describe your style in 3 words:
Modern, Colourful, Unique
Is there an element of making your ceramics you enjoy working on most?
My favourite part of the process is throwing (a misleading name - referring to the making of pieces on the pottery wheel), it is so therapeutic and is almost therapy in itself to be covered in mud watching a piece spinning and coming to life in front of you.
Though opening a finished kiln full of work is always likened to Christmas morning, and that is definitely some of the most fun as you never know how pieces are going to come out and that first peek is full of dread, anticipation, and excitement.
What feeling do you try to capture in your work?
I try to capture a sense of calm but also playfulness, ceramics are (consciously or not) all around us in our homes, and I strive to create pieces that have a place in any home turning the functional into the decorative.
Where do you start when you begin a new project?
Sketches, sketches, and more sketches, I have notebooks filled with shapes and ideas for future projects, some vastly different to my style and others just slight developments to incorporate.
Where do you find your inspiration for your work?
Lots of my inspiration comes from nature, often in the colours or the textures I see around us to inspire new collections and styles. But also to the great artists past and present, I love the work of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth and always look to other artists for inspiration to use subtle elements of in my work.
Name a person or business that you admire or inspires you (and why)?
Sage Cortez, who runs HandandFire in the USA, is one of the most inspirational artists I follow. She has such dedication to her craft both ceramics and beyond, and is so keen to share her process to help others on their journey. She works unbelievably hard to make ceramics into a profitable business and has such beautiful unique and varied work, and her success is so inspiring.
Best piece of advice you have been given.
"As an Artist – It’s not your job to be affordable, its’ your job to produce amazing work."
As a small business owner – "Am I being a good and fair boss to myself?"
How do you seek out new opportunities?
I’m an impulsive person so as soon as I see a new opportunity I dive in head first before I can start to overthink and form any self doubt. Sometimes business opportunities present themselves to you, but as the famous Picasso quote goes “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” and I believe that you need to be proactive and put yourself out there and hunt out what would work for you and find the opportunities’.
What has been the biggest challenge running your own business and how have you overcome it?
Confidence in my work, I think believing in yourself is one of the hardest parts of a creative career and business, it’s easy to get caught up in comparison games and under charge for your time and work when you don’t have any faith in yourself. Or think you should be as busy or selling as much as this person. But I’ve learnt to recognise the little things to keep me believing in myself, the people (no matter how many or few) who are interested in what I’m making and doing, those who want to buy my work, people who write nice comments on my Instagram posts. They all add up and make it real and not just some crazy dream in my head. It means that I must be doing something good and right, even if it’s not where I’d like it to be in the end it’s a journey and if it makes you happy as well as sparking the interest of others you should believe in it.
What is your biggest success story or proudest moment in your career so far?
One of my proudest moments was the first gallery who contacted me to have my work as part of their show, I’ll never forget that feeling of recognition and pride in my work that not only did people want to buy it, but people believe in it enough to want to showcase and sell it for me.
What would be your dream commission/ project?
Though I don’t make many sculptures, if I had the time I would love to make a series of large modern ceramic garden sculptures to be displayed on plinths. It would be both a technical and creative challenge that I think would tick all my boxes.
Check out the full dmoonceramics collection at www.dmoonceramics.com
Follow on Instagram @dmoonceramics
Catch up on all episodes of The Great Pottery Throw Down at https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-great-pottery-throw-down