Meet the Maker - Liam Owen

By Bold Apps

We had the pleasure of working with ceramicist Liam Owen on a limited edition range of pen pots. Two designs, Fruity & Minty - named as such because their delicious glazes. 

Liam was kind enough to take some time to tell us a bit about himself, his process and inspiration for his work. 

Liam - I am a London based ceramicist who studied Ceramics at Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 1997. Twenty years later I am still in love with this beautiful material. I currently produce wares on commission and sell in a small collection of stores across the UK.

Tell us your story please, where did it start for you?

When I was a kid my parents best friends owned and ran a ceramics studio in Northumberland, I spent a lot of time playing in and around their pottery and was always intrigued about what was going on, I think this place had a lasting effect on me that was to reappear years later. After finishing school I headed to Newcastle College to study a foundation course in Art in Design. I went there thinking I would specialise in Fine Art or Graphic design, the only two creative subjects taught at my school. On one of the first week’s at college I was an introduced to ceramics. I was fascinated with the different processes and how you had to think in three dimensions, I fell in love! After completing my foundation I went on to study Ceramics at the incredible Glasgow School of Art, graduating in 1997.

Is being a designer what you imagined it would be like?

That is a hard one to answer as I am a designer in many different fields, I am a ceramicist creating functional and sculptural pieces. I am also an interaction designer and animator. I certainly never imagined that I would be working in so many diverse fields all at the same time. Also I graduated over 20 years ago, so the design world I imagined back then has changed beyond recognition. Digital design was not really a thing back then and the ceramics marketplace was stagnant, no one could have predicted the resurgence its had over the last few years and long may it continue.

What are your greatest challenges?

The everyday practicalities of balancing all of the different fields I work in, making sure I am dedicating enough time to each. When focussing on the ceramics, the greatest challenge is creating pieces that hold true to my sculptural roots. It’s a lot easier to sell a breakfast bowl than a sculptural stone for example. People’s first question is usually “what do you do with it?” expecting it to have some sort of function!

Where does your greatest satisfaction come from?

When the above balance is achieved, but its easier said than done. The greatest satisfaction has to be when people and shops want to buy and stock my work, it doesn’t get much better than that.

What ambitions do you have for your work?

To always evolve and develop my sculptural work with the aim of making them more commercially viable. The ultimate goal is to get more of my wares into nice stores worldwide, more lovely shops like Dowse would be nice!

Outside of your own practice, what influences you?

My surrounding environment, from the busy metropolitan city I live and work in to the peace and quiet I find in the countryside.

Does where you live influence you? Or do you look more globally?

100%. My original core creative narrative has always been about how time is visualised in natural forms; rocks, trees, water. This inspiration comes from being surrounded by nature as a child. I was born and brought up in Northumberland, living in the middle of nowhere. This has shaped my inner core, it is a part of my DNA. 

Please tell us places in your area that people interested in art & design might find interesting.

I live in South East London, and like most of London it is a noisy, frantic and often a overpowering place to be. But luckily it is also home to some stunning green spaces that you can go and hide and relax in. You won’t find any exhibitions in these places but they are full of inspiration and just being out in the wild gives you serotonin that helps to stimulate your creativity.

Which other independent designer / makers do you love or admire?

Sooooo many but here are some of my current favs:

What are you favourite websites or apps for inspiration and / or wasting time?

Go Jauntly is a great app that I am very proud to be a Founding Partner in. It helps to get you outside and into nature -
If you want to see incredible creative talent and super-hip beautiful work from all around the globe, Say hi to_  is a great place to start -
Feed full of good stuff!

Thanks Liam! It's been a pleasure to work with you.