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  • Manali Dhole

A #hyphenatedAsians POV: Joanne Paek

The Universal Asian got to know Joanne Paek, a growing ceramic artist. She is also the creator of JO AND CLAY, a Southern California–based ceramic shop where every piece is handmade and designed uniquely. Visit the site to know more about her recent additions and designs.

Tell us about yourself and your experience growing up?

Hey there, my name is Joanne Paek and I’m a Korean American gal, born and raised around L.A./O.C. With my dad being a designer and mom a musician, I grew up in a fairly creative home. All things art-related were always interesting & came very naturally to me, so in high school and college/post-college I did some art and theater, and am happy to be exploring and creating to this day.

How did you develop an interest in ceramics? Is there any special story or emotion behind that?

I’ve always been a creative person, and a few years ago I was looking for a new medium to work with. I was used to working in 2D, so I wanted to try something in 3D. I picked clay, signed up for pottery classes at a local studio, ended up finishing a two-year ceramics program at OCC, and have been making [pieces] out of my garage ever since.

What is the story behind JO AND CLAY? How did that start?

JO AND CLAY started from setting a personal goal to start selling some work. I’ve always had mixed feelings about making money from my creations, but I wanted to open that door for myself. Learning to set up/make online sales was a giant learning curve that came with a lot of challenges, but ultimately led to the beginning of JO AND CLAY.

As a ceramic artist, what is one of the most challenging experiences you’ve faced and how did you overcome that?

One of the most challenging experiences I face as a ceramic artist is finding the balance between creating to create, and creating to make a living. It has helped me learn how to divide my time in ways that allow the space for both.

Talking about challenges, who would you say was your greatest supporter and why?

There are so many major supporters in my life that make doing ceramics possible for me. I have amazing friends and a ceramics community that always generously offer their help & resources, and ever-supportive parents who gave me a space to create in their home.

How do you keep yourself fresh and inspired during times like these?

Inspiration can be found anywhere. Sometimes it is refreshing to see what artists and designers are up to on the Internet. It’s also incredible to see how master potters find their inspiration from nature. I find that my most meaningful work comes out of pulling from both external observations and moments of introspection. Much of my inspiration tends to come from experimentation and Korean culture/pottery.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a ceramic artist?

There really is no one way to be a ceramic artist. Take note of inspiration when it comes, keep making, and have fun as you’re doing it!



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