Meet the Cartel: Studio Joo

  • 30 November 2021
  • 2 min read
Meet the Cartel: Studio Joo

Welcome back to our interview series Meet the Cartel, a spotlight on Big Cartel shop owners. For today's installment, say hello to Elaine Tian of Studio Joo, a ceramicist out of Brooklyn.

Photo by Doug Young SJ1 (1) (1).jpg

How did you get into ceramics?

After studying Sculpture at Art School and pursuing my Masters in Design, I worked as a graphic designer for many years. I see ceramics as where my background in visual art and design disciplines meet. My work combines sculpture (form/materials), design (function), and drawing (mark-making). Ceramics also enables me to deepen my interest in both food and interior design.

Why did you choose Big Cartel?

This was a no-brainer. Big Cartel is easy to use and highly customizable. It's a perfect selling platform for small businesses like mine.

Tell us about your most popular item in your shop

My altered tumblers and serving bowls. They make perfect wedding and housewarming gifts! My lamps have also sold well, primarily to interior design and architecture firms to use in their projects.

And what's your favorite item in your shop?

My Splash Accent Lamps.

DSC_1101 - Elaine Tian.jpeg

Why did you choose your current theme for your shop?

I use Luna because I like a clean, easy-to-navigate shop. It works well with my product photos.

Check out the Luna theme for your own Big Cartel shop.

Which Big Cartel feature could you not live without?

The "copy product" feature is a big time-saver.

What does a regular workday look like for you?

I'm in my Brooklyn studio 9-6 every weekday and usually half a weekend day. I like to get all my packing and shipping over and done with, so I usually tackle that first. Then it's either throwing at the pottery wheel or glazing pieces for firing. I split my studio time between ceramics and painting. Did I mention I'm a painter, too??

Who or what inspires you?

There is inspiration everywhere, but I get a lot of ideas from my travels. Nature, architecture, and typography are the most consistently inspiring to me.

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What's a moment in your career, or life in general, that you're proud of?

I was raised in Sydney, Australia, and left a promising career in magazine publishing to move to NYC. It wasn't easy, but I'm proud that I took the risk. Another big leap of faith was getting my own studio, which happened about 7 years ago. I'm still here and have no regrets!

What was the most unexpected challenge you have encountered while running your own business? How did you overcome that challenge?

TIME. Working with clay is a test of patience... the process is long (clay prep, throwing, trimming, drying, firing, glazing, then firing again, etc.) and many things can and do go wrong at any of those stages. On top of the production of goods, there is also the marketing, paperwork, photo shoots, etc. At least Big Cartel makes shop updates easy and efficient!!

How do you like to unwind after a particularly busy day?

Reading on my subway commute home from the studio, followed by a glass or two of red wine with dinner. And just like that, I am unwound.

DSC_0894 - Elaine Tian.jpeg

Any advice for someone thinking about opening up their own shop?

Keep a consistent brand in terms of your voice (captions, blurbs, etc.) and product photography.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing this?

I would most likely still be working as a graphic designer.

Give us three recommendations... for anything!

Ooooh, let's do music! Currently on heavy rotation are:

Where else can people find you online? and @studiojoo on Instagram.

All photos of Elaine are by Doug Young.

30 November 2021

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