While her ceramics studio may be based in Highland Park, artist and O-M Creative co-founder Carrie Lau draws her influences from all around the world. From Mexico to Prague, Berlin to Kyoto, Paris to her native Hong Kong, her work represents an eclectic confluence of cultures, traditions and ideas. But it’s at home in the city of Los Angeles where she feels the most energized by the art and people around her. Here, she’s found a “handmade culture” that it is its own confluence of ideas and perspectives, a thriving community that has inspired her to pursue her craft and explore new avenues of expression. It’s the kind of environment that Lau claims is essential for growing as an artist: “a creative community that helps bring in new ideas is important, because when you work alone it’s easy to get stuck.”
While working full-time as a graphic designer, she began to find that the more time she spent sitting at her computer, the more she longed to work with her hands and embrace her creativity in a more tactile form. After being introduced to ceramics by a good friend, it quickly became a meditative hobby, a new outlet for her creative energy and her entry into the circle of LA’s flourishing craft community. Learning as she went, each piece got better and better until friends began commissioning her for unique pieces of their own and suggesting that she should start selling her work.
Given how new she was to the world of ceramics, Lau was initially unsure if she was ready to turn her avocation into a professional pursuit. But, as she puts it, “when you see so many people around you making and selling their own products, it encourages you to get involved in handmade culture.” Thus encouraged, she opened her first booth at last year’s Renegade craft fair, and her ceramics studio has been growing ever since: only a year later, she’s busier than ever, occasionally spending eight or nine hours a day perfecting her technique and working on commissioned pieces.
These pieces, which capture both the serene simplicity of Asian design and the energy and diversity of global travel, have attracted an enthusiastic following. Given how quickly the studio has caught on, she’s just as quickly had to learn the ins and outs of keeping up with increasing demand for her work. She notes that now, in addition to creating beautiful crockery, “[I’m] also handling shipping, social media, accounting, everything. I’m still learning that side of things, the business side of things.”
As for the future, Lau says “I kind of like that it’s an open question.” The success she’s found so far has allowed her to connect with a whole new community of creatives, with plenty of possibilities ahead. In addition to her recent collaboration with Poketo, she’s excited to work with artists and designers with whom she can push herself to create bigger and even more complex pieces, as well as purely decorative work, transcending the table into the gallery. With newfound opportunities opening up for her around the globe, there’s plenty of room for her ambition; but it’s here in LA, surrounded by friends and the spirit of a city she loves, where she finds her creative center, meditating over her potter’s wheel, working her hands over each piece until it feels just right.