This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Ceramicist Jess Choi On Feeling The Fear, But Doing It Anyway!

Studio Visit

Hands up who, in the last 12 months, has dreamt of giving up their 9-5 to pursue their creative passions? What has remained a daydream for most of us has become a reality for ceramicist Jess Choi of Eun Ceramics. Although Jess is still taking on a few gigs as a production manager in TV here and there, she’s (wheel) throwing everything into her true passion – ceramics. And despite feeling ‘imposter syndrome’ when she first put herself out there, her little business is thriving.

Jess found a lot more than just a hobby when she first took up casual pottery classes in 2016. Five years later and she’s found a way to be her own boss, and unexpectedly, reconnect with a part of her Korean heritage.

15th March, 2021

Ceramicist Jess Choi of Eun ceramics in her Ascot Vale home – which is filled to the brim with her works. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A selection of Jess’ minimal designs. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Jess at home in Ascot Vale – outside the window is the tiny spot where she creates her ceramics! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Jess’ home studio is a narrow undercover porch area, where she keeps her pottery wheel. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Perfect bud vases! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

The Femme Bell and Femme Stargate vases. Photo – Jess Brohier. Art Direction – Cristina Guerrero.

Jess’ pieces on show at home. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Curved vases the Trois candle holder. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Glaze trials. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Jess working out of her home, which she recently purchased with her husband! Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

A joyful shelf of ceramics, flowers and other cute knick knacks. Photo – Amelia Stanwix for The Design Files.

Some stunning new works! Photo – Jess Brohier. Art Direction – Cristina Guerrero.

Photo – Jess Brohier. Art Direction – Cristina Guerrero.

Sally Tabart
Monday 15th March 2021

I’m a daydreamer. I love being able to imagine something and recreate it whenever I want.‘ -Jess Choi.

South Korean-born ceramicist Jess Choi of Eun Ceramics has her pottery wheel tucked in an undercover sliver down the side of her house in Ascot Vale, Melbourne. In this tiny little area, barely the width of an arm span, Jess has been crafting her elegant, minimal ceramic wares since 2016. ‘Pottery has taken over every inch of my living space, from the dining room to back yard’, she admits.

After taking up a casual class at a community pottery studio five years ago with the hopes of making a few plates for the house, Jess discovered a passion she never knew she had. ‘It’s funny because I make everything except plates now…’, she says. Her practice has rapidly grown since that first class in 2016, and she’s constantly dreaming of the next piece.

We chatted with Jess how she did what most of us only daydream of – turning her side hustle into a full-time gig!

Hey Jess! Can you tell us a little about your background? What has been your creative journey so far?

Originally born in South Korea, I moved to Perth when I was 12 years old and came to Melbourne just after I turned 21. I became interested in ceramics when I started working from home and needed a hobby to get me out of the house. I was recently married, so I was researching a lot about homewares and decors. I thought it’d be great to learn pottery and make some cute plates for the house. I booked a class at a community studio and I just never stopped making.

As I was getting more serious about pottery I came across videos of Korean pottery masters and found it fascinating that their traditional techniques were being admired and praised by people from all over the world, especially because I felt like it was something that was never valued growing up in Korea. I think I subconsciously saw it as a way for me to reconnect with my heritage, which is a fire in me to do really well, and use it as a tool to represent who I am.

Is this what you do full-time? If not, what else do you do?

I’ve been working as a production manager for TV commercials for 6 years but I’ve always worked from home with very unconventional working hours. It allowed me to navigate my time to be able to also work as a ceramicist. I’d split my time between the two jobs by working on the film job early in the morning and at night, so I can have the day free to work on pottery.

However, pottery has become my main job and the film job has turned into more of a side job as of this year which is exciting!

How did you arrive at your current style? Was there lots of trial and error involved in getting to the distinct look, shape and feel of your pieces?

I used to go to a community pottery studio and I found it really hard to find my own style for a while, because I would easily get distracted by what others were doing and lose focus on my original ideas. It helped me become more versatile in my skills and techniques but it wasn’t until when I started working alone I had the time to reflect on my work and what I wanted my pieces to represent.

I had to think back to when I first became interested in ceramics, and the type of style I was drawn to which was always minimalistic. I wanted my work to have a subtle beauty to it, something approachable yet captivating. So I decided to keep my colour palette predominantly neutral, and worked on creating unique forms and textures with a contemporary feel, which are also warm and inviting.

what do you love about what you do?

I’m a daydreamer. I love being able to imagine something and recreate it whenever I want. I used to lay in bed imagining what sort of vases I was going to make the next day and get really excited. It’s the best feeling when a piece comes out exactly as you imagined!

I also love working for myself, being able to stick to my own judgments and taking responsibility for my actions makes me feel more passionate about what I’m doing.

Do you have any key references or inspirations?

Something I always think about when making my pieces is the feeling I got when I went to an art gallery a few years back. There were artworks I’d just pass by, but certain artworks were so captivating in an unexplainable way. I could stare at them for hours and put my face as close as I could to see every brush stroke and imagine the story behind them. I aspire for my work to carry that kind of depth, and intrigue others, to allow each piece to tell its own story.

How have the upheavals and isolation of 2020 affected your work?

It actually helped me to focus on my business and push myself to make my own opportunities.

One of the reasons I held off from selling my work for so long is because I was scared of what other people might think of me and my work. I was also constantly being told how hard it is to make a living as an artist/maker, but being in isolation made me persevere and push those fears away. And I realised there are so many opportunities to be seized if you put yourself out there.

People are busy with their own problems to care too much about what you’re doing so just go out and do it!

Check out more of Jess’s fab ceramics here

View Comments

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

The Northern Rivers Ceramicist Crafting Vessels With A Soft Edge

Ceramic designer Layla Cluer shows us around her farmyard workshop in the Byron hinterlands.
Sasha Gattermayr

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Artist Creating Ceramics Inspired By Ancient Mesoamerican Culture

From dub music to the Chinese Song Dynasty, the influences of Enrique Tochez Anderson stretch far, wide and into the past.

Studio Visit

Inside The Dreamy Garden Shed Studio Of Emerging Ceramic Artist, Anni Hagberg

Introducing the graduate artist who was the recipient of The Design Files Emerging Maker Award at Craft Victoria's annual 'Fresh!' exhibitio...
Sasha Gattermayr

This Week

Architecture

A Spacious Renovation That Makes The Most Of Every Inch

Built-in furniture has unlocked the potential of this Victorian home renovation in Fitzroy North by Architecture Architecture.

News

A Delicious New Book For Living A Kinder, More Gentle Life

Chef Annie Smithers shares wisdom, memories and recipes in her new book, ‘Recipe for a Kinder Life’.

Creative People

The Earthy, Abstract Art Of Asha Holmes

Inside the textured, tonal and intuitive practice of a Northern Beaches-based painter whose star is well and truly on the rise!

On The Market

The Perfect Architect-Designed Family Home Is On The Market

The Kingsville House by Olaver Architecture is potentially the closest thing there is to a perfect family house. And it could be yours!
Sasha Aarons

Interiors

How To Make Wallpaper Work!

Lauren Li of Sisällä Interior Design shares her tips and tricks for wallpaper that really works - and where to get it!
Lauren Li

Stays

A Contemporary Reimagining of Robin Boyd’s Fenner House

Las Palmas by DUO Architects in association with Davis Architects is a Byron Bay hinterland home inspired by the owner's upbringing in Robin...
44:00

Podcast

The Unconventional Career Path Of Interior Designer Yasmine Ghoniem Of YSG Studio, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, host Lucy Feagins talks to the founder of YSG Studio and so-hot-right-now visionary leading the Australian int...

Creative People

Building A Family Legacy On Local Manufacturing, With Abode Living

Creative director Amelia Marasco Adair takes us on a tour of the company's Camberwell HQ - featuring their production warehouse, offices +
15.15

Food

Julia's Pillowy Ricotta Tortelli With Butter And Asparagus

It's asparagus season and Julia Busuttil Nishimura has the best pasta recipe for this sweet, seasonal stalk!
Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Architecture

The Australian Architects Designing New Houses For An Affordable Flat Fee

Purchase environmentally-friendly, architectural house plans for an affordable flat fee by new Australian business, Architopia.

Homes

Poppy Garbin + Scott Gibson Of Pop And Scott’s Dromana Dream Home

The renovated '80s home of Scott Gibson and Poppy Garbin, founders of Pop and Scott.

Gardens

A Beautiful New Life For A Generous Family Garden

The Haberfield Garden by Fieldwork Associates in Sydney unites multiple green zones under a canopy of excitement + abundance!

On The Market

A Historic Italianate Mansion Hits The Market In Kew

Built in 1889, Ross House (formerly called Charleville), is a heritage-protected Italianate mansion in Kew designed by local architect Henry...

Building Better

Everything You Need To Know About Working With A Builder

Where do you find a good builder? How long will it take them to build my house? How much will it cost? We answer these FAQs more.

Studio Visit

This Cheerful New Textile + Homewares Label Brings The Sunshine We Need Right now!

Hannah Veikkanen used Melbourne's extended lockdowns to develop and launch her own textile label, creating handtufted cushions and artwork f...

Similar Stories

Studio Visit

The Northern Rivers Ceramicist Crafting Vessels With A Soft Edge

Ceramic designer Layla Cluer shows us around her farmyard workshop in the Byron hinterlands.
Sasha Gattermayr

Studio Visit

The Melbourne Artist Creating Ceramics Inspired By Ancient Mesoamerican Culture

From dub music to the Chinese Song Dynasty, the influences of Enrique Tochez Anderson stretch far, wide and into the past.

Studio Visit

Inside The Dreamy Garden Shed Studio Of Emerging Ceramic Artist, Anni Hagberg

Introducing the graduate artist who was the recipient of The Design Files Emerging Maker Award at Craft Victoria's annual 'Fresh!' exhibitio...
Sasha Gattermayr

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.