An Interview With Hannah Turner
As soon as I came across Hannah Turner‘s ceramics some years ago now, I was in love. The nostalgic design, mixed with beautiful colours and a whimsical sense of humour is an instant winner in my book!
In my first in a series of designer spotlight blogs, I asked Hannah to tell us a bit more about her background, her inspiration and the best advice she’s ever received!
Tell me about your business & how it came about.
I started my business in 1991 after a sell-out degree show at Bristol University. My degree show was inspired by taxidermy and how we display animals as trophies in the home. In it were all sorts of creatures, but the favourites were the little black crows. I took orders to make more of the designs that were sold in the show, and found a local studio and the business was born!
I was awarded a grant to buy my first kiln and set-up my business creating sculptural creatures, mostly birds, sometimes fish or wall-mounted moose heads even. Humour has always been evident in my work, and probably helped ride the storm of 2 recessions.
After taking a break to focus on family, I decided to get back into clay and found a local shared studio and got cracking working part-time, when the kids were napping, or in the evenings. At this point I also decided to change the way I worked, and started slip-casting, still birds! Gradually I got more interested in surface pattern design as well as sculpture, and other products were introduced (screen prints, books, coasters, mirrors, greetings cards) and in 2011 I joined forces with a Sri Lankan company and launched my first range of tableware.
This side of the business really took-off, meaning I could focus on development of new ideas instead of repeatedly making everything myself. I added egg cups, salt and peppers, and money boxes to blend her love of sculpture with the more functional designs. They proved really popular and very quickly it has grown into the business as it stands today, with Hannah, Dave and Kate at the helm.
The studio workshop is now based in the garden of my Bristol house, and my hardest job at present is keeping up with all my new ideas!
Explain your process for developing new ranges?
I have a list of animals I would like to create and a list of add on products I would like to make based on a design already in production, then I whittle it down and really just pick the one I most want to do!
What are your plans for your business this year?
We are doing two international trade shows this year, so are strongly focused on that, one in February in Frankfurt called Ambiente, and then New York Now in August. I want to also develop products that can be made in the UK if possible to limit shipping and reduce lead times. I am really fancying a new Dog collection, and I’m adding to the Cats range of products.
How would you describe your style and what are your style influences?
I’m very influenced by design of the 50s and 60s, mid-century modern styles are a big favourite, and 50s textiles particularly. There is humour running through most of what I do, so I love old cartoons. Simplicity of shape is important, most of my designs are very stylised.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
“Those who fail to plan plan to fail” Winston Churchill. Planning is the only way I really make the big stuff happen, I rely really strongly on my quarterly plans.
“You don’t get to be a famous artist lying in bed all day” – The words of my Mum, whilst throwing open the curtains in my room when I was a teenager!
Don’t grow the business too quickly, this is high risk, and I’m not that much of a risk taker so it was good advice in the early days, BUT, don’t be limited by what you think you can achieve, aim high.
Brilliant advice! Thank you so much Hannah for giving us an insite into your work and inspiration.
If you’ve fallen for Hannah’s awesome ceramics too, you can find them in the A Rosie Life Hannah Turner collection.