Artisans Stories

In Conversation With Ceramicist and Illustrator, Joey Ruthers | Artisans Stories

Artisans story

In Conversation With Ceramicist and Illustrator, Joey Ruthers | Artisans Stories

There is something incredibly unique and charming about Joey’s hand-built ceramics, and her vases which are artfully presented with dried flowers. From ghosts and pubs to houses on hills, ceramicist Joey Ruther’s illustrative designs are like magical storybook scenes brought to life for your home.

A fusion of ceramics and illustration

Growing up, Joey was fascinated by craft and stories so it’s easy to see why both disciplines now inspire her work.

“As a child I was obsessed with the kids TV show Bitsa, where they would show you how to make brilliant things out of Bits and Bobs (see where they got the name!) From there I was always making and drawing while I listened to Roald Dahl audio books. I’m very lucky that my parents were totally supportive of my artistic endeavours.”

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Joey also credits other makers for informing her creative philosophy.

“I feel like I have learnt a lot from them about how to be greener and more sustainable in my practice.”

She has always found interest in “folk/outsider art” and Joey's favourite artists include Maud Lewis and Alfred Wallis who were both self-taught. “The illustrator in me loves Tove Jansson and Eric Ravilious” she adds.

Joey has always drawn over the years whilst working at different jobs. Then, 5 years ago she got the opportunity to work as a slip caster at a small company where she really began to discover “the possibilities of ceramics” in her work and life.

“I love a Knick-knack, so being able to make objects that I can then paint on is so satisfying to me” she explains, “I’ve never really thought about my practice as being multidisciplinary, technically it is, but to me it all seems like the same thing, it’s just the surface I’m working on that changes.”


Going self-employed

When Joey started making ceramics in 2017, she was working full-time, "selling bits and pieces online". She then took part in her first craft market in May of 2018.

“It was a pretty busy period” she recalls, “I had a desk in the corner of the living room and I’d make pieces before and after work. Then I went to 4 days a week at my job and continued to sell online and do craft markets.”

“Finally at the end of 2019, I decided to take the plunge and quit my day job. It was a nerve wracking decision but one of the best I have ever made. It’s never too late to try and do what will make you the happiest.”

Connecting through craft

Joey favourite part of running a business is not just the making process or creativity, but the chance to connect with people through her business.

“I love it when I meet people at craft markets and I can see them smile when they see my work. I’ve never been the most confident person, and when you run your own business it’s easy to feel a bit lonely and start doubting yourself. Connecting with customers in person or even on social media is so heart-warming to me. My least favourite part is so predictable, it’s tax time, even though I will say it’s much less frightening that I thought it would be.”


The working day starts for Joey with two cups of tea whilst she hugs her cat, then it’s off to the studio.

“If I’m going to my studio it’s usually a long day. I have a tendency to bite off far more than I can chew and start more pieces than I can comfortably finish, but then 7 podcasts later it’ll be dark outside and I finish everything off.”

Whilst her creative philosophy may be informed by other makers, Joey has developed her own unique working practices.


“Well, I don’t use a sketch book, and I never have. This used to add to my artistic imposter syndrome but I don’t worry about it anymore. If an idea pops into my head, I often write it down so I don’t forget it and then when I am back in the studio I go straight to the making process. My favourite part is the painting, although it can also be the most daunting.  It can be frustrating to make a form, fettle it, and then fire it only to mess up the painting.”

Looking forward, Joey is hoping to challenge herself with new ways of working and presenting her work.

“I just bought a wheel, so I hope to get to grips with it in the new year and see where it takes me.”

“I have a woodworker friend that I am hoping to collaborate with on some pieces. Outside of that I would love to do an installation of some kind in the future, see how many little creepy things I can make out of clay and fill a whole room.”

We can't wait to see what Joey works on next! Shop and find out more about Joey's work here.

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