“Every time I give a design into the hands of the new owner, I get the feeling, that I was given a lovely compliment by them.”
Hi, Janža. First of all, could you quickly introduce yourself to our Māgoa readers.
Hi, my name is Janža, I’m 24 years old, currently living in Ljubljana and I have two dogs. I’m a ceramic designer.
How did you start with ceramic design? Why the choice of such a medium?
Currently, I’m wrapping up my visual communications studies. Therefore, I have at beginning paid close attention to graphic design, but I never really felt at home in this field. What was missing for me was tactfulness. Graphic design was never really the best means of creative expression for me.
I have first worked with clay during a college course, where we had to design and create a ceramic product. We have worked in a studio in Radovljica, which really impressed me. Clay as a medium is really responsive, because it gives you infinite freedom with creative expression. You can change things, add, take away – and in the end, you get a tangible product.
What do you feel, when you create with clay?
I believe that freedom is the right term. The fact, that I can create (pretty much) anything I could possibly think of from a simple piece of clay, is infinitely liberating. Maybe I haven’t simply taken this freedom in the past, because I put pressure on myself, but I definitely feel more relaxed in a completely new creative field.
What would be the perfect relation between aesthetic value and functionality of the product?
I’m not really sure. I imagine that with some objects the aesthetic value is so big that the functionality can be a bit forgotten and vice versa. Even though I always wish, with the latter, that the designers would step up efforts – of course in general, not just regarding ceramics.
You started as an apprentice at Hana Karim’s studio. How did you find your own style and aesthetics through the learning process?
At first it wasn’t easy at all, because I have been following Hana’s work, which was really close to me, for quite some time before my apprenticeship. When we met, I realized our creative process and mindsets were very similar, but I have also felt that her ceramics and the colours she feels, while designing, are a part of her. She’s a true colorist, while I’m not. I think that everything turned out very spontaneous and natural.
How long did the apprenticeship last? What has etched into your memory the most?
I was Hana’s apprentice until very recently – for almost a year. During this period, I have collected a collection of products, which could cover two seasons of a certain series (laughter), and it’s hard to just highlight one thing. The whole experience, and everything that is happening afterwards, is definitely one of the most fortunate and beautiful things in my entire life. Me and Hana now co-work in the same creative space. It isn’t easy to say; I am immensely grateful for the opportunity Hana gave me and I’m not sure if she imagines how many doors she has opened for me into this wonderful world of ceramics. Hana, thank you.
Where do you find inspiration for designing?
This will sound a bit cliché, but I really like to observe beautiful things. Not just the functional ceramic. I love architecture, for example. I get inspired by the buildings and interiors, feelings that arise. I adore the movie The Bigger Splash, it is so beautiful I hardly followed the storyline. Exhibitions have the same effect on me – photographs, paintings, conceptual art, it depends.
I get most of the ideas for my designs when I remove myself from all these impulses I get. In nature, in my home office, during sports, etc.
You mentioned that you really appreciate the stories which surround designs, artists, etc. What story do you want to tell with your own work?
I’m not entirely sure, that it’s the story I present, but more the fragments of my thoughts and feelings, the current state, I would rather say. Nevertheless, that is always me. I find it really important how I showcase my own work, myself, my designs. And of course, the relationships I have with the people I work with, buyers, clients. I am always completely honest when it comes to that. If I had to stand behind one of my character traits, it would be morality (ethics).
Which artists do you value the most, or who really inspires you?
Here I have to mention Hana Karim once again, because she is a wonderful artist and person. Her view on ceramics has always been close to me, but the feeling of comfort and trust she gives me all the time is what I appreciate the most. I think that she actually believes in me and my abilities (laughter). It really is a wonderful feeling to work with such a great, unique person.
The second one is my brother Jošt, a photographer. We could »indefinitely« try to save the world, we talk about art and design – and even though we sometimes have different views on a particular subject (we of course work on different creative fields), I really appreciate his work and our relationship.
I would also like to mention other artists that inspire me – Laibach, Pirate Piška, Urška Alič, Meta Wraber, Maruša Račič, Kiss the Future, Aleksandra Brlan, Nika Ravnik, Plateauresidue …
Have you ever imagined the life of your products after you have sold them to someone else? What role they would take in the life and routines of their new owners, – regarding the fact that it’s a functional product, which they would handle every day?
Yes, I do. I would like to see for them to be – only in good hands – because I love every single finished product. It’s interesting to observe who the buyers of my products are. Every time I give a design into the hands of the new owner, I get the feeling, that I was given a lovely compliment by them. Let’s face it, the compliments of certain people carry a great value.
What are your plans for the future? Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share with our readers?
Currently I am redesigning my online shop and I really hope to finish it as soon as possible, so that I can finally completely devote my attention back to clay, experiment a bit and hope for the best – I don’t really like to talk about that, because I have no idea if it will work in the end.
I would also like to invite everyone to Urbano dejanje – a festival held in Ljubljana during 21st and the 25th of August. I will be there on Tuesday, the 21st of August, where I will have my own promotional stand with my designs. You are all welcome to come by and say hi.
Janža, thank you very much for your time and answers. The best of luck with your career and upcoming projects!
Janža will also take over Māgoa’s official Instagram for this week, where you could get insights into her creative life and also win one of her products in a giveaway.
Visit JNŽ Shop
Photography: Jošt Dolinšek