Interview: Nicola Briggs

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Nicola Briggs runs her own shop called Nicola Briggs Ceramics. Nicola creates unique handcrafted designs. I was lucky enough to interview Nicola about her work and shop. 

Hello! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. How are you?

Hello, I’m excited to be a part of your blog. Thanks for asking me!

How did you manage to learn and hone your craft?

I studied ceramics at University, but it’s such a complex discipline with so many different techniques and materials,that there’s always more to learn.

Have you always been into ceramics?

Yes, since I was introduced to clay at high school. I still remember making one of my first pieces, it was like a trinket box replica of an orange with the segments, pips and everything!

If there were no resource restraints, what would be your dream project?

I’d like one day to own a gallery space or lifestyle shop with craft studios for myself and other makers somewhere in the countryside. 

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What equipment do you use for your work?

I hand-build my ceramics so my equipment is my hands ! Some of my work is created by using moulds. I’m always on the look out wherever I go, for items and textures to make my own moulds out of. I fire all my work in a top-loader kiln, most of my work has three firings. 

What tools or materials could you not live without?

I love my array of ‘texture’ tools that are just bits and pieces I’ve found over time to create texture by scraping, pushing and dabbing into the clay surface.

Why has social media been an important platform for you to use?

When I set-up my first studio social media wasn’t around then so it was a lot harder for creatives to find out about opportunities and each other.

Now it is just so easy to connect with other makers, to find out amazing projects and to be contacted by people that have seen your work on Instagram for example. It’s also great to update your customers on your next selling event. I have a shop on Etsy and facebook too so its good to sell my ceramics online as well as at Artisan markets and fairs. 

Who inspires your work?

There are so many makers and artists that I admire, such as Andy Goldsworthy, the ceramics of Brenda Holzke, Hilary Mayo and Akiko Hirai and mixed media artist Ines Seidel to name a few. 

Do you have any favourite pieces of work that you adore at the moment?

I’ve recently had some Landscape Wall-Pieces professionally framed and they received a lot of interest at my last event. They’re inspired by my sketches of the beautiful scenery in North Wales which I then translate onto the clay as relief detail. 

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What do we hope to see in this up and coming year for your Instagram and your work?

I’m revisiting some of my early work, heavily textured and much more abstract nature-inspired forms, which was in black clay. So I’ll be developing pieces, creating a body of work for stockists and for upcoming fairs and shows like the Summer Arts Market in Liverpool in June and Potfest in the Pens in August.

What are you currently working on?

I'm also working on creating a website, which is taking a lot longer than I hoped ! 

What’s your typical working day?

School run, check social media and e-mails, cup of tea then walk across the garden to my studio where I usually have a list of pieces to make. I only make work in small batches at a time as I like to vary what I’m making.   

What’s been the biggest struggle in getting your business off the ground?

At the moment I’d say creating the website!

Do you have any exciting plans for this year?

Yes I’m looking forward to the events that I’m booked on through the year and I’m hoping to find time to book onto a few craft workshops in either glass or silver. 

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Do you have any advice for anyone doing craft fairs?

Try to be selective and find the right fair for your work. Always visit the fair before booking and speak to the other stallholders and have a good look around - is it well advertised, what footfall does there marketing generate.

What advice would you give to people looking to define their own style?

Practice and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Do you have any advice for anyone who would like to do ceramics?

Keep at it! Ceramics can be very frustrating sometimes if a piece you’ve worked on for a while doesn’t survive a firing, but it can be like Christmas Day when you open the kiln to lots of beautiful work! 

What’s next?

Another cup of tea I think! 

What's the best piece of creative advice you've ever been given?

Make what makes you happy!

You can follow Nicola on Instagram 'www.instagram.com/nicolabriggsceramics' and Facebook 'www.facebook.com/nicolabriggsceramics'. You can take a look at Nicola's website for all of her products 'www.nicolabriggsceramics.co.uk'.