Nicolette Johnson’s work is thoroughly sophisticated. With a fine sense of craftsmanship, her vases have ornamental features that feel ancient, yet modern. There are elements of nature, symbolism, and traditional craft that combine in a way that is completely unique. Working from her studio in Brisbane, Nicolette started working in ceramics because she was an avid collector and wanted to learn how to make her own pottery. Using her background in photography, she has been able to capture her work in the most beautiful way making it perfect for the world of Instagram pottery addicts.

Here we talk with Nicolette about her work, her background in photography and what a typical day in the studio looks like.

You started out as a photographer…tell us, how did you get into ceramics?

I have a Bachelor of Photography with Honours and worked as a freelance photographer for a few years after graduating in 2011. It was something I was good at but it didn’t give me the sense of creative fulfillment that I thought it would. I started taking weekly ceramics classes at a local studio called Clayschool in 2015 as a way to feel creative again, to be away from screens, and really to just enjoy a low-stakes activity without the pressure of performing. Obviously that has changed a bit now, (having an online store, retailers stocking my work, and exhibitions to plan means that the stakes are high again and I do have to spend a fair bit of time on the computer,) but the creative freedom I have given myself by turning ceramics into my career has been life changing!

Does your background in photography ever influence your ceramics, if so, how?

I do think a little bit about how I will photograph a piece when it’s finished, but the majority of my thinking is how someone will be able to interact with the work, what it will feel like to touch it, or what it will look like on their mantelpiece or on their shelf.

Your work is very sculptural, what is your creative process like?

I really like to draw sketches of works before I make them. It’s a fun challenge to see if I can translate a two-dimensional drawing into an object that is visually beautiful as well as functional.

What was the most exciting thing that happened to you in your ceramics career?

There have been a few exciting developments this year that I’m still sworn to secrecy about! But being invited to make work for my first ever solo exhibition (October 5th, 2018 at Paper Boat Press Gallery in Brisbane!) has absolutely been a highlight.

You were born in London, lived in Texas and now you are in Brisbane, Australia… do you ever feel like there is a sense of place in your work? How are you inspired by places?

Living in so many different places has definitely shaped my general sense of aesthetic but I don’t think these places have any direct manifestations in my works.

What does a typical day in your studio look like?

I always start off with a coffee and check my emails. When I head into my studio I do everything from wedging clay, throwing, trimming, rolling out coils to make Symbol Vase handles, mixing glazes, packing my kiln, sanding and packaging work to be shipped, et al. Making ceramic work is a process that has many stages that happen over a few days or even weeks, so my daily rituals are constantly rotating based on what needs to be done.

Who are some of your favorite potters?

I love the work of Alana Wilson (beautiful pots + evocative imagery), Linda Lopez, Kenji Uranishi, and Ben Medansky, just to name a few!

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on developing new pieces for several upcoming exhibitions as well as experimenting with new glazes. I’m concentrating on pushing my style and techniques a lot further and surprising myself with my work.