We had the good fortune of connecting with Heather Lew and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Heather, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I actually went to college for business and that was my main career focus at first. After a few years of office jobs, I gravitated towards ceramics as a way to manage stress. Growing up with artists in my family and doing pottery at a young age definitely set me up for pursuing something more creative. At first ceramics was a hobby to help me escape my job. Eventually I had enough customers emailing and messaging me wanting to place orders that I decided to focus on being a ceramic artist. Having a creative career is so fulfilling and energizing, but it also can be extremely overwhelming. In the end it’s worth it because I love that I’m creating functional art that will bring joy to peoples homes all over the world.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My art for the most part can be described as functional homeware ceramics. I always like to leave part of the naked clay exposed to show the true beauty of raw clay. This to me brings a more authentic and earthy feel to my pieces. I also enjoy playing with modern patterns and symbols in my designs. I am most excited about introducing new clays and glaze colors to my new collections in the future. I also have a few big collaborations in the works that I cannot wait to announce. In the future when I have some time between large wholesale orders, I want to experiment with creating larger sculptural clay pieces and light fixtures.
It was not an easy decision turning my art into my career. It was very intimidating at first to imagine selling my work and having customers judge these pieces that I poured my heart into. It was a very difficult decision, but in the end I felt I had to at least try it. A year ago I decided to turn my hobby into a business and give up the comfort of having a steady paycheck.
My work life now is so much more fulfilling and even though I work more hours everyday, I’m doing something that genuinely makes me happy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I have lived in Long Beach, California for about 10 years. This city is filled with the most genuine and creative people. It’s such a tight community and it’s so fulfilling being apart of it.
For a morning coffee ritual my usual is a latte from Rose Park and grabbing a fresh pastry from the locally owned organic panaderia Gusto Bread.
My go to Happy Hour restaurant is Panxa Cocina. The freshest ceviche and the green Chile cornbread served in a hot cast iron skillet are my favorite dishes to share with friends.
A classic picnic on the bluff is a must. We always get snacks from Olives and lay out on the grassy bluff area overlooking the beach. Usually we run into a few friends and local characters throughout the day.
For dinner Thai District is a must have spot, it’s upstairs seating area is magical and the food is always so fresh. They use local produce only and the Panang Curry cannot miss.
For drinks and live music Vine has been my favorite bar for years now. There are shows almost every night and they consistently have good new bands playing.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A lot of my success can be attributed to my insanely supportive group of friends. Most of my friends are artists in other mediums and are always giving me new ideas or giving me feedback with designs. Also I have to recognize my amazing community art studio, Clay on First. Everyone there is so talented and truly passionate about ceramics. I’ve learned so much about technical skill and creativity from the friends that I’ve made there over the years. I also have to give some credit to my talented photographer friends Joe Tavares and Erika Miyagiwa who help me with photographing my art, without them I would be so lost. I think having archives of my progression through my work is so important. I want to be able to look back at all of the growth and phases I’ve had switching techniques and experimenting with new ideas.