Indian-Australian artist Ayesha Aggarwal hopes to inject a sense of her culture and inspiration from her upbringing in India into her beautiful pots and ceramics, which are made by hand and painted in fun and upbeat patterns that are bound to brighten anyone’s day. Her pots are minimalistic and aesthetically pleasing beyond belief. Her ceramics-based jewellery has gained traction for being one of the hottest, trending accessories to add a subtle yet powerful touch of boldness to your overall look.
In anticipation of her participation in the upcoming Bowerbird Market (May 3 – 5), I was able to conduct an e-interview with Ayesha about her business – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself, Ayesha?
Ayesha: I’m an Indian-Australian potter who makes functional ceramics in her home studio in Adelaide.
Tema: What inspired you to open up your own business? How did it go from being a concept to a reality?
Ayesha: I’ve always dreamt of working in a creative industry, but it honestly felt like a pipe dream… until I started making ceramics! I’ve dabbled in a variety of creative pursuits over the years, but when I made my first botanic vase, I finally thought that maybe I had a product that someone would want to purchase. Even after I saw the potential in clay, I decided to spend a year refining my skills, before I took the first of my vases to potential stockists. Luckily, they were snapped up quite quickly, which spurred me on to set up my studio at home and start my own business.
Tema: What does the creative process look like?
Ayesha: The beauty of clay is that you can approach it in so many different ways. Turning my creative outlet into work can mean that the pots I want to make and the pots that I need to make are occasionally at odds. But on days when I find myself procrastinating on one job, I just change tack and use a different technique, so that I’m still being productive and maintaining the joy in my work.
Tema: Where do you find the motivation to create your beautiful products?
Ayesha: I like to make pretty organically, so I usually just get started on a piece and let my instincts guide where I want the finished product to go. I paint completely on the fly, which keeps the work fresh and means that each pot is unique. It’s a really intimate way of working and I like to think it makes every piece special.
Tema: How long does it take you to create your products (on average)?
Ayesha: Each product takes a different amount of time – based on the techniques and the level of detail I use in my decoration. Clay is a slow, long process and a simple pair of earrings can take up to an hour to produce from start to finish. When you factor in the drying and firing time, each piece needs at least a week or two to go from raw clay to functional ceramic. I’ve been creating some larger coil pots of late and they are definitely the most time consuming to make. I can spend between 4-5 hours just hand-building the blank pot and an hour or more decorating. I’ve even started adding gold lustre to these for some glam and that’s a third firing, which just adds more time to the process (but is so worth it)!
Tema: How would you describe your style of pottery and ceramics-based jewellery to someone who is new to your product range?
Ayesha: I tend to describe my pots as “small batch, botanical ceramics”. I’m deeply inspired by plants, particularly Australian natives and the tropical plants that I grew up around in India. Painting and carving are important to my aesthetic – I’d describe my style as graphic and colourful – and have allowed myself to develop my own voice as an artist.
Tema: You seem to offer a versatile range of products through your business- how did you decide on the range?
Ayesha: My diverse product range is a result of trial and error and a symptom of my temperament. I started out just making vases, as I liked the combination of functionality and decoration that they offer. They’re still a predominant part of my practice, but I like to experiment with shape, design and even technique to make sure I’m still enjoying the process of creating them. On days where I still feel restless, I give myself the freedom to freewheel and try new things which often results in a new product that I end up making more of.
Tema: What is the first thing that your customers need to know about your business?
Ayesha: Every aspect of my business is run completely by my all, while I juggle it with my part-time job. I work hard to make sure I’m creating designs that speak directly to me and that aren’t being made my anyone else.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience, when buying from your business?
Ayesha: Creating beautiful, functional, and unique pieces is important to me. I would like my customers to feel like they are going home with something special that will bring them joy; even when it’s used purely decoratively.
Tema: Do you primarily run an online store or do you have a physical shopfront / stockists around Adelaide / SA?
Ayesha: I sell my work online through my website and am lucky enough to be stocked at the Jam Factory, Urban Cow Studio and Art Images Gallery in SA.
Tema: How did you get involved with the Bowerbird Market? Is this your first time participating? If so, what are you anticipating from the market space?
Ayesha: I’ve attended Bowerbird as a customer for years now and I’m so excited to finally be on the other end of that! It’s taken me a long time just to get to a point of building up stock for a market stall and it still involves a lot of juggling and planning. Bowerbird will definitely be the biggest market I’ve done to date and I’m really looking forward to bringing my work to new audiences. To be amongst so many talented and thoughtfully selected designers and makers is a real honour.
Tema: Are there any other markets that you make a regular appearance at? If so, can you highlight some of them? If not, are you hoping to get involved with any in the near future?
Ayesha: It takes many months of prep for me to be market ready and I’m forced to neglect my stockists when I do that. So, I’m hoping to strike a balance and do a couple of markets a year and focus on my stockists and my online store for the rest of the year. I’m hoping to be back at Bowerbird in the future and maybe even back at the Christmas Bazaar at Gilles at the Grounds, which I did last year and really enjoyed.
Tema: What do you think helps your business stand out from the rest in your industry?
Ayesha: I try not be influenced or driven by trends and simply make pots that I wish I had. There are plenty of potters who find inspiration in nature, but I like to think that my designs and my technique set my work apart from the rest.
With thanks to neonmoose for the interview opportunity
Images supplied by Ayesha Aggarwal