"I guess the reason I focused on ceramics was because of how serious a material it is – not in terms of people taking me seriously but the fact that it’s been used for thousands and thousands of years. It’s going to outlive me and will be dug up by the future. The aliens will see the work I’ve been making, I mean they won’t be digging up my Facebook page." We visited Ben at his Los Angeles studio, see his answers to our seven questions below.
Photography by Bryan Dale
1. What makes your work unique? I want every piece I make to have soul, even if we're producing at high volume. We throw everything on the wheel and hand-attach every piece, as opposed to using molds. It's a slow process, but it means that each piece is an individual with its own personality.
2. What advice do you have for people on making that switch from struggling creative to successful business owner? Keep making everyday but don't let that prevent you from connecting with the people around you. In the early stages of building my company, I found it invaluable and so important to invite people to the studio so they can engage with what I'm working on, and build a community to work with.
3. Everyone hears about success stories but it's important to hear about failure too. Have you failed and if so, do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? Failure happens everyday in ceramics and in business, but I don't always think of it as failure. You just have to learn to prepare and to keep moving forward. Things break in the kiln and we have challenges with the business, but we sustain our innate drive to keep making work and learn how to not let the setbacks slow our momentum.
4. Let's spread the love...Who is doing great work in your circle that you would love to give shout-outs to? My former assistant Eunbi is making really amazing ceramics and leather goods. Her cups are at Dinosaur coffee right now.
My friend Pauline has a company called Fruitmilk, which sells all sorts of amazing goods. They just finished a show at Space 1520.
5. What app or program can you not live without? The podcast app keeps us learning about new things and hearing great stories in the studio. We are particularly obsessed with Radio Lab, Invisibilia, and The Moth.
6. What are a few of your favorite albums? Kelela's album "Cut 4 Me" and the new Jamie xx album "In Color" have been my studio soundtracks lately.
7. Everyone has an a-ha moment. When was yours? I went on a drive to Zion National Park after working for a long stretch of time without any vacation. I said to myself "I want to be able to come here whenever I want. I want to be my own boss." So I decided to start my own company.