Thank you so much for the invitation to share a little about myself and my work, Haley! My name is Jennifer Fujimoto and I make whimsical ceramic art and functional decor inspired by Japanese folk art.
Tell me a little bit about your creative journey.
I was always creative as a child, and lucky to have that creativity nurtured and encouraged by my family! It sounds cliche (and I know better now!) but I didn’t want to be a “starving artist” so I studied graphic design in college and went on to spend about 20 years in the design and tech industries before discovering ceramics. I don’t miss it and don’t think I could ever go back, but I am thankful for my time in the industry because it helped me hone valuable skills that have helped me in building my art brand. I was also able to save enough money along the way to support myself while learning and starting my business.
How or why did you start creating your handmade pottery?
Just for fun, really! In 2015 my boyfriend and I signed up for a wheel-throwing class as a weekly “date night” activity. Neither of us had any prior clay experience. We both enjoyed it so much we signed up for another quarter of classes. And then another. The third class I took was focused on surface decoration. I’ve always loved textiles and pattern, and of course already had the background in design. Learning how to apply my own designs onto pots was what really hooked me.
What was the process like for you when you decided to start selling what you made?
When I started to think I might like to pursue ceramics as a career I knew I needed to learn about all of the behind the scenes aspects. Up until that point we had been taking classes at a community studio so things like firing the kiln, mixing glazes, and reclaiming clay were taken care of for us. The studio had a work-study program so I did that for a year and also got a position assisting at the studio of a local ceramic artist. That artist had done local art fairs and markets and encouraged me to apply. I had started attending shows and markets the previous year to get a feel for what was out there and where I thought my work would fit. I applied for and was accepted to a small local show where I could get my feet wet and see how it would go.
When do you create?
I’m always thinking about my work and developing new ideas, but actual physical creation typically happens during my mornings in my studio.
Do you have a specific daily routine?
I try to! Mornings are typically spent in the studio creating work. Afternoons can take many forms – sometimes it’s administrative tasks like bookkeeping, photographing new work, or shipping. When time allows, I’ll head back into the studio or work on studio maintenance tasks. My dog Kiku makes sure that there is always a walk in there somewhere.
What is your relationship with a higher power?
I don’t know about a higher power per se, but I do feel that there are many different types of energy at work around us. I try to be present and open to that energy and whatever it may bring. I also try to make sure that the energy I am sending out into the world is positive and encouraging–I do believe that what we put out there comes back to us!
What do you like to do for fun?
I love taking classes and learning new things. I try not to have them all be ceramics related, but they are typically creative in some way. I also like to get outdoors, go hiking and camping or just hang out with my pup and boyfriend.
What’s the best thrifted/second-hand find you’ve ever found?
I’m not much of a thrifter, (or a shopper at all to be honest!), but over the years I’ve found some delightful and unique kokeshi to add to my small collection at garage sales.
Favorite MUST READ authors?
Erin Morgenstern, V.E. Schwab, and Ruth Ozeki are all recent favorites for fiction. Questlove and Rick Rubin’s books on creativity are good audiobooks for studio time.
Who are your favorite artists?
Too many to name!! For ceramics, I’m currently obsessed with the work of Frances Priest. Her patterns and surfaces are so precise and intricate. Jun Kaneko and Toshiko Takaezu are inspirational in terms of the direction I would like my work to head in the future.
3 items you cannot live without are…
I can’t really think of any “items” I can’t live without! I guess as I’ve gotten older I’m less attached to my belongings. I definitely wouldn’t want to live without my family and friends, good food, and time to be curious and creative.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee AND tea. Coffee in the morning for sure, but it’s usually black tea or matcha in the afternoon if I need a little pick-me-up and something herbal in the evening to help me wind down.
What would you tell yourself 5 years ago? 10?
Probably the same things I still tell myself today: 1. Trust your intuition 2. Make what you love. 3. Your success isn’t defined by anyone but yourself.
What does living your capital T Truth mean to you?
Being here for the process–of learning and failing and trying again. Recognizing that some of my behaviors or patterns that frustrate me are actually part of the process too and accepting them for that. Paying attention to what I’m feeling. Knowing when to be gentle with myself and when to push myself a little harder. Not taking myself too seriously but also not discounting my value.
“Fear is not a reason to stop.” – Expedition x Partisan