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Amy Cooper Ceramics

by Angie Boyer

Published: July 2017

Angie Boyer in conversation with Amy Cooper, winner of the craft&design Award at MADE London Bloomsbury 2017

You live and work in Cornwall, which sounds idyllic Amy...

We live in a cottage on a tributary of the Fal near Truro, on a good day it is idyllic, bursting at the seams but beautiful. In terms of workspace we have the equivalent of a double garage but vertically.  Largely all the kit, casting bench, moulds, kilns and glazing are upstairs well above the high water mark. This is mainly  Gareth's workspace and  downstairs is my space, where all the decorating, drawing and designing happens.



You won our Student Award at Art in Clay 15 years ago for your two, very different and distinct ranges of work - fine porcelain and large brick work. How has your porcelain work developed since then? And do you still create large scale brick works?

My porcelain work has come a long way since Art in Clay at Hatfield 2002.It has been my focus and my bread and butter. The work has expanded and evolved . As well as my sea and microscopic inspired 'Original' range I now also have a body of porcelain work inspired by my immediate surroundings, plants and landscapes of the everyday made magical by the light. The 'Imagery' range is decorated with dreamlike silhouettes inspired by early animation and papercuts and influenced by becoming a parent.

I haven't made any new large scale work for some years but that isn't to say I won't in the future. I loved working on a large scale and in the free way that brick clay permits and I have every intention of coming back to it when life allows! There is definitely a chaise longue still  waiting for it's moment.

What do you most enjoy about the work you do as a ceramics designer maker?

I really enjoy my job because I get to do everything I love and call it work. I spend my days drawing, making things, working with beautiful pure white clay and problem solving. I can be in nature, choose my hours and work from home. I get to go to different parts of the country and meet interesting people. I feel part of a vibrant and supportive community and I have made some great friends over the years. My workspace at home is my haven, it can be a creative bolt hole when life in the real world is challenging. I  am still excited by opening the kiln and often thrilled by the moment of illuminating a new piece for the first time.

You exhibit at craft fairs and ceramic shows, stock a good number of galleries and also sell online, what are the key advantages of each of those very different approaches to promoting and selling your work?

I have been doing mixed craft and ceramic fairs  for the last 15 years. I would say  they are still the main way that I promote and sell my work. In the space of a few days you can meet and talk to literally thousands of people. They might be trade, retail, or social contacts but long lasting and valuable connections can be made at shows. It is always good to be able to display the whole range of work and get an overview that is not always possible up close in the studio. It is also a chance to get out of the studio and to be inspired by other people's work.



In terms of cons. It takes a huge amount of organisation, preparation and can be very expensive to attend shows so it is important to choose them carefully.

Selling through Galleries also has pros and cons. I have found selling  through a third party enables me to reach an established market I would not otherwise be able to access. It allows me to do it from the comfort of my studio. There is not the outlay in terms of money or time that a show demands. It also puts the job of selling the work into someone else's hands.  On the negative side, the financial returns are a lot less. Packing orders can be time consuming and it is a nerve testing business waiting to hear if they have been safely delivered. There is also  often the extra admin time required to chase work and payments that have failed to appear.

I have been selling  online through Etsy since 2013 and I am quite a fan. I like being in control of my stock, availability and presentation. I find Etsy cheap and easy to use, it provides a small but steady  income stream throughout the year. The returns also seem to be more or less proportionate to the effort put in. I know that if I put in the time I will see a return. Conversely if I don't maintain an active presence footfall and sales definitely fall off. It can also be hard to keep it stocked at busy times.

How relevant is it to win an award for your work now that you are a well established maker?

Mostly I don't feel 'established'! It is lovely to win this award, I am very honoured to be picked out from the rich pool of talent that Made Bloomsbury 2017 was.  It is a great boost to be recognised as a 'well established maker'!

What advice might you have for the students and graduates exhibiting their work at Art in Clay this year?

Be with your work, be enthusiastic, pass on your passion for your work to the public. Be tenacious, keep good notes and follow up on any connections you make. Enjoy yourself!






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