The Etsy Blog

An Interview With Jonathan Adler handmade and vintage goods


Beginning with a humble lump of clay, potter, designer, and author Jonathan Adler launched his aesthetic of irreverent luxury in 1994. His home furnishings and sense of  irreverent luxury have since been embraced worldwide in stores, homes, hotels, and even on the set of E!’s Fashion Police,  which he designed. His fourth book, 100 Ways to Happy Chic your Life, was released in November 2012. He shares with me some of his feelings about style, craft, joy and Etsy.

Karen:  I understand you had a pottery teacher in college named Jackie who helped set you on your path. Can you tell us about her?

Jonathan: The best advice I ever got in my life was from my pottery teacher, Jackie Rice. She told me that I had no talent and I should move to New York and become a lawyer. I think every creative person, and every craftsperson, should have a naysayer to rebel against.

Karen:  You have described yourself at 26 as “failing and unemployable” but instead of feeling defeated, you experienced a burst of creative freedom. Why was this period of your life so liberating?

Jonathan: It was a great time because I had nothing to lose, and also nothing to gain. Etsy didn’t exist, I didn’t know how or if I could ever market my work, but I gave myself six months to just figure it out. I decided I was going to make exactly what I wanted to make with no thought about selling it. I was an outlier, and it was a creative place to be.

Karen: Your work has a very disciplined perfection of form, but is also full of levity and irreverence. How would you describe the relationship between beauty and wit?

Jonathan: I’m really glad that you noticed that about my work. I work really hard to inject wit and levity into chic and it’s a constant challenge. Usually witty and chic are mutually exclusive, and I’ve made it my life’s mission to make chic joyful.

Karen: What is your life as a potter like now? How much time do you spend in the studio? Do you make your own models?

Jonathan: My life now is incredible. I spent my pretty years as a full-time production potter making every single piece myself. Now I’m the luckiest potter in the world – I have a very diverse design life.  I spend a lot of time in the studio with my team working on models, and I don’t have to worry so much.

Joshua McHugh

Karen: How did you find Etsy and how you feel about the creativity you see there?

Jonathan: I’ve been aware of Etsy from the very beginning. I wish I could put Etsy in a time machine and send it back to 1993 when I was getting my start as a potter. The fact that craftspeople can now control their own distribution is nothing short of a miracle; Etsy is doing the Lord’s work. I would love nothing more than seeing my fellow craftspeople thrive and flourish and Etsy is an incredible marketplace.

Karen: Not everyone has a Jackie Rice in their life. For Etsy makers who are sans-Jackie, do you have any words about staying true to your instincts and following your heart?

Jonathan: I was the most scatterbrained, impractical, carefree craftsperson ever to walk the face of the earth and somehow I managed to make it.  If I did it, you can, too.

Karen:  Many people in the Etsy community enjoy creative partnerships at home. What is it like to be married to another highly creative person like Simon Doonan?

Jonathan: I’m so lucky to be married to Simon. I never have to explain anything to him – we can just speak in shorthand.  We’re so conversant with the nuances of each other’s worlds that we can communicate via grunts and whistles at this point.  He is a delightful and amusing husband and, most importantly, he always lets me control the remote.

Justin Namon

Karen:  A shout-out to your famous puppy, Liberace. How is he dealing with your success?

Jonathan: Liberace is the star in our household. Neither Simon nor I can hold a candle to his wattage.

Inspired by our exclusive interview with popular home designer Jonathan Adler, we’re kicking off 2013 with the Get Chic Sweepstakes on Pinterest. Enter to win a $1000 Etsy gift card and a copy of Jonathan’s new book, 100 Ways to Happy Chic Your Life.

Karen Brown is an award-winning designer and creative director of the Center for Ecoliteracy. Her work has been included in the Smithsonian Institution and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, and featured in The New York Times, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, and on Today on NBC. She believes that the handmade movement is a fundamental force for transforming society and the economy.

2 Featured Comments

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  • GracefullyGirly

    Kimberlee from GracefullyGirly says: Featured

    Adler has fabulous fun style! What an inspirational story of building an amazing life and empire beginning from a simple lump of clay. I love that it was the rebelling against the naysayer teacher that created a push in the positive direction. It really is what we do with what we receive that determines our destiny. I recently had such an uplifting experience when my mom told me she wished she had encouraged art school for me. My well-meaning parents always tried to encourage my science interests as opposed to my artistic ones. I never felt like it ever quite fit and my life was never quite right until I finally pursued my creativity and then followed my purpose with my shop. I finally feel like I'm doing what I want/need to do. I imagine I will continue to adjust and change my direction but pursuing my creativity is definitely where I need to be! Thanks for the great article!

    2 years ago

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign says: Featured

    It's always satisfying –– and rare –– to see a designer who lives his values. I love the way Jonathan's responses reveal his deep convictions, couched in the same humor and wit as his aesthetic. I really got the feeling of someone who is living exactly the life he was born to live.

    2 years ago

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery says:

    Great interview Karen! I Love Jonathan's bright and bold style!

    2 years ago

  • DecadesOfVintage

    DecadesOfVintage from DecadesOfVintage says:

    Jonathan Adler has such a fabulous sense of color!!

    2 years ago

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie says:

    What a great interview!!!

    2 years ago

  • thelandlockedsailor

    The Bosun and Sarita Li Johnson from TheLandlockedSailor says:

    LOVE Jonathan Adler, esp the sailor and siren salt & pepper and the whale butter dish. Oh and the Big Sur candle, and... Yeah. Love Jonathan Adler!!! <3 <3 <3 {Her}

    2 years ago

  • GinaDeSantis

    Gina DeSantis from GinaDeSantis says:

    I love Jonathan Adler's work and designs! Such great pieces. Its nice to read about his path of being a potter. I think often times in school we are discouraged to think we can't make it as a career artist. It can be practical for the right person!

    2 years ago

  • thelittlemarket

    Debbie from thelittlemarket says:

    Loved reading the interview!! big fan of his style!!

    2 years ago

  • amysfunkyfibers

    Amy Gunderson from amysfunkyfibers says:

    So great that you followed your dreams! Beautiful work!

    2 years ago

  • misschristiana

    Christiana Odum from YarnDarlin says:

    Awwww I wanna kiss that puppy!!! So cute!

    2 years ago

  • aostudio9

    Adrienne from aostudio9 says:

    All this and Simon Doonan! A kindred spirit! Love Jonathan Adler!

    2 years ago

  • ArtDecoDame

    Desiree from ArtDecoDame says:

    Great read,love his style!

    2 years ago

  • oncloud7

    oncloud7 from oncloud7 says:

    Beautiful work. Adorable dog. What breed is he?

    2 years ago

  • LaurenBauschOriginal

    Lauren O'Quinn from LaurenBauschOriginal says:

    Wow! So inspirational! I look back to those naysayers and say "Thanks"! Im also a scatter-brained creative potter! Thank you for this inspiration on a rainy Monday.

    2 years ago

  • SayMyNameShop

    Courtney from SayMyNameShop says:

    Jonathan Adler is such an inspiration, love his work. And kudos Karen for another fabulous interview. You always ask such great questions!

    2 years ago

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign says:

    Hi oncloud7 –– Liberace is a Norwich terrier.

    2 years ago

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost says:

    I really dig how Jonathan isn't afraid to use lots of bold, bright color in addition to his neutrals. The color against the white make things just POP out at you like candy.

    2 years ago

  • AlisaDesign

    AlisaDesign from AlisaDesign says:


    2 years ago

  • littlepancakes

    Melissa Pancakes from littlepancakes says:

    Great interview, especially the puppy!

    2 years ago

  • dreamyvintage

    dreamyvintage from dreamyvintage says:

    This is so inspiring! Love your pottery, so fresh and alive.

    2 years ago

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy from worksofwhimsy says:

    It would have been nice to include some things for sale on Etsy that have captured his attention.

    2 years ago

  • auntjanecan

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts says:

    Oh so interesting! Amazing story and wonderful ceramics.

    2 years ago

  • fieldtrip

    Amy from fieldtrip says:

    My husband is my naysayer and it is oh so fun to be proving him wrong! Such a great interview - thank you :)

    2 years ago

  • elisabethringewald

    Elisabeth Ringewald from MaineCoonCrafts says:

    So true, take adversity and turn it around, because another person does not understand your "vibe" and aesthetic, never, ever take it to heart, let your heart take you to where you need to be, truly inspirational...

    2 years ago

  • rachelungerjewelry

    Rachel Unger from RachelUngerJewelry says:

    I am a huge fan of Jonathan's work! I see his name often as I devour my House Beautiful magazines over and over. Thanks so much for sharing this interview.

    2 years ago

  • GaryRam

    Gary and Heather from littleRamstudio says:

    What a cute little dog, he must light up every room he walks into!

    2 years ago

  • sonyarasi

    Sonya Rasi from sonyarasi says:

    Wonderful interview!

    2 years ago

  • CafePrimrose

    Amanda Gynther from CafePrimrose says:

    I love the dog

    2 years ago

  • TidBitz

    TidBitz from TidBitz says:

    Short, but very inspirational!

    2 years ago

  • jwlc

    Josephine from MettleMakes says:

    Great reminder to approach challenges as teachers to grow from!

    2 years ago

  • JulieMeyer

    Julie Meyer from JulieMeyer says:

    It's great to see a tastemaker designer up to his elbows in pottery!

    2 years ago

  • opendoorstudio

    Martha Layton Smith from opendoorstudio says:

    I adore the idea of "happy chic" I live it in my home too! I believe we all have a neigh sayer in our lives... a smile and a wink to them... for propelling us to a higher level of creativity! loved the interview!... off to find your book!

    2 years ago

  • auniquedesign4u

    pam from stunningstuff4u says:

    Nice interview, Karen, and Jonathan your style of design and decor is quite appealing.

    2 years ago

  • VeronicaRStudio

    Veronica from VeronicaRussekJoyas says:

    What a great interview! I deeply admire Jonathan and truly covet some of his work for my home... I love to get a glimpse into the creative process of those I admire!

    2 years ago

  • glynniskillen

    Diane and Glynnis from DiGiJewels says:

    Beautiful pottery! Love the living room picture with those awesome chairs and the white with blue contrast! Thanks for the insight!

    2 years ago

  • Aristocrafts

    Aristocrafts from Aristocrafts says:

    This may be one of the most inspiring interviews I have ever read! I admire Jonathan and his work so much, it's simply amazing! And I just love the term "joyful chic", and the sweet adorable puppy :)!

    2 years ago

  • hasincla

    hasincla from travelwanderings says:

    So wonderful and positive! What an uplifting message for budding artists!

    2 years ago

  • miriammcgowan

    miriam from MizMiriam says:

    love that your unstoppable, god bless you .

    2 years ago

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I love Jonathan Adler's work and style, so it's fantastic to hear his thoughts on creativity. He's right about having a naysayer. My Jackie Rice is my father, and it gives me something to rebel against. On the other hand, my mother is a big supporter, so it's nice to have that yin-yang close to fully feed off of. When I'm dragging, I'll try to think of Jonathan's inspiring words about success and get cranking again.

    2 years ago

  • mvmayophotography

    Mary Mayo from MVMayoPhotography says:

    Great interview. Love those chairs!

    2 years ago

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered says:

    Also: wearing white pants while throwing on the wheel! I love you, Jonathan, you crazy man.

    2 years ago

  • livingstonandporter

    livingstonandporter from livingstonandporter says:

    He's a genius. . . Love that he has a sense of humor about it and injects that into his work...Love his style. If I could invite anyone to a party- I would choose Simon and Jonathan.

    2 years ago

  • ladygatsby1

    Martha Muthoni from LadyGatsbyLuxePaper says:

    fabulous - i love this!

    2 years ago

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags says:

    What a great interview!

    2 years ago

  • TheQueenOfQuiteALot

    TheQueenOfQuiteALot from TheQueenOfQuiteALot says:

    You know you're in charge when you wear white pants while working on a potter's wheel....:)

    2 years ago

  • NancysBagsEtc

    Nancy Ratte' from NancyEllenStudios says:

    Great interview - love his style.

    2 years ago

  • DesignsStainedGlass

    Nancy Ratte from DesignsStainedGlass says:

    Wonderful pottery. Love those chairs too!

    2 years ago

  • AudreyLarsonDesign

    Audrey Louise from AudreyLouiseStudio says:

    Who else but Jonathan Adler can throw in white pants? Fabulous!

    2 years ago

  • silverlily786

    Fatema from SilverLilyJewelry says:

    It is amazing to see Jonathan Adler in action! I am a huge admirer of his work specially his use of color shape and proportion.

    2 years ago

  • GisieArt

    Giselle from MyArtAndFashion says:

    Very nice!! I'm glad that you didn't do as Jackie Rice told you...

    2 years ago

  • SomeKindOfPretty

    Catheryn Dallenbach from SomeKindOfPretty says:

    I love your work!! You are a great designer and potter!! I love watching you on Design Star!

    2 years ago

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery says:

    I can see why your puppy is so popular, too cute! : )

    2 years ago

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 from Parachute425 says:

    Love your work, Johnathan. Wish I had a team. ;)

    2 years ago

  • StillVintage

    StillVintage from StillVintage says:

    The pictures attached to the interview are beautiful

    2 years ago

  • bariand

    Arina Kushnir from bariand says:

    Great interview!

    2 years ago

  • jnorvelle

    Jayne Norvelle from jnorvelle says:

    Great interview - beautiful work and of course Liberace is beyond adorable!

    2 years ago

  • catherinelouise12

    Catherine Louise from MyMysteriousPast says:

    Great interview!

    2 years ago

  • BrooklynLoveDesigns

    Megan C from AlaskaBagCompany says:

    great interview and cute puppy dog!

    2 years ago

  • lapisbeach

    Lauren from lapisbeach says:

    WOW- fabulous article- thanks so much to both of your for the interview! Im feeling motivated!

    2 years ago

  • GracefullyGirly

    Kimberlee from GracefullyGirly says: Featured

    Adler has fabulous fun style! What an inspirational story of building an amazing life and empire beginning from a simple lump of clay. I love that it was the rebelling against the naysayer teacher that created a push in the positive direction. It really is what we do with what we receive that determines our destiny. I recently had such an uplifting experience when my mom told me she wished she had encouraged art school for me. My well-meaning parents always tried to encourage my science interests as opposed to my artistic ones. I never felt like it ever quite fit and my life was never quite right until I finally pursued my creativity and then followed my purpose with my shop. I finally feel like I'm doing what I want/need to do. I imagine I will continue to adjust and change my direction but pursuing my creativity is definitely where I need to be! Thanks for the great article!

    2 years ago

  • LeasaMarie

    Leasa from LeasaDesigns says:

    Love it!! I'm sitting here painting (although I sell jewelry!)(?) and your article really insprired me!! I just need to create - anything!! So your article was perfect!! Love your work! Really fun! Enjoy~ the life you've created!!

    2 years ago

  • KaiceJoy

    Kirsti Joy from KaiceJoy says:

    thanks for the great interview!

    2 years ago

  • messina918

    Stacey Messina from FillThatSpace says:

    Glad you stuck with it. I love the idea of working for 6 months and just focus on production not sales. Well thought out. I speaks to me. Its so hard to switch on the sales side of tour brain when you get the creative bug going.

    2 years ago

  • camermaidjewelry

    Troy Stengel from camermaidjewelry says:

    Excellent interview - very inspiring!

    2 years ago

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat says:

    How wonderful... having a husband who lets YOU get to use the remote! But on the other hand, I suppose poor Simon has a husband who NEVER lets him use it! I'm always slightly bemused by people who allow the opinions of others enough importance to shape their lives. I've never had any problem with simply ignoring them & following my own instincts, & I certainly don't feel the need to live my life as some kind of revenge against anyone who may at some time have said something slightly negative. It seems just plain mean to keep naming a detractor simply to make the point that you proved them wrong.

    2 years ago

  • jmeckstein613

    Joelle Eckstein from ChezJoelle says:

    Great interview, so encouraging !

    2 years ago

  • LivingVintage
  • WintergreenDesign

    Christa Cunningham from WintergreenDesign says:

    Great interview... I agree that nay-sayers often give us just the kick in the pants we need : )

    2 years ago

  • rebeccagoebel

    Rebecca Goebel from OctoberNative says:

    I love his work!! so inventive thanks for sharing :))

    2 years ago

  • peaseblossomstudio

    Caroline from AnchorRoad says:

    " I was the most scatterbrained, impractical, carefree craftsperson ever to walk the face of the earth and somehow I managed to make it. If I did it, you can, too." <<<--- I LOVE this quote. Very inspirational! :)

    2 years ago

  • PaintedHorse

    susi from PaintedHorse says:

    Great read and simply love that puppy!

    2 years ago

  • honeystreasures

    Michael and Lisa from honeystreasures says:

    Meaningful interview. I agree about the naysayer part - when someone is a bit negative about something, that's when I most want to prove them wrong. So glad for your success, Jonathan. Your dog is adorable! I dig the hand chairs.

    2 years ago

  • gilstrapdesigns

    Debra Gilstrap from gilstrapdesigns says:

    Johnathan this was such a great interview and very inspiring I have always loved your work. Your interview is so encouraging. Much continued success to you Simon and Liberace (he is just to cute)!!!

    2 years ago

  • InglesidePottery

    Laine from InglesidePottery says:

    I loved the interview, Jonathan Adler' s work and story is inspiring.

    2 years ago

  • orangegirl

    Kirstie Tweed says:

    I love this interview. I never thought about his work starting out as a potter so I loved getting to read about his beginnings as an artist. Just in case Jonathan reads any of these comments I would love to see him create a nightstand that doubles as a stylish dog bed/crate. I adore my dog and my dog loves his crate which currently doubles as a nightstand with my alarm clock on it. I'd love for someone to create a stylish orange nightstand that keeps my dog cozy too. Since dogs are an important part of people's lives I'd love to see furniture that caters to that in a stylish whimsical way.

    2 years ago

  • seekthetreasure

    seekthetreasure from seekthetreasure says:

    What an inspiring piece. Thanks.

    2 years ago

  • olusholaj

    Shola from YarningKnots says:

    I tried pottery once. And boy did I suck at it! ;)

    2 years ago

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC says:

    Wonderful interview!! Congratulations on the feature!!

    2 years ago

  • Winterowls

    Jennifer Ross from WinterOwls says:

    Adler's interview has just given me the big boost I need. I wish I'd had his courage in my twenties. My father wouldn't let me do art in year 12 because he said I wasn't talented enough. I've been unhappily working as a teacher for twenty years as a result. My biggest naysayer became myself. After having cancer in 2009, I decided it's now or never and began selling my paintings in a local cafe. Yes to my doubting self! They actually sold! Now that I have lost my teaching job due to funding cuts, it's time to take a leap and do what my heart has been telling me to do for years.........

    2 years ago

  • Winterowls

    Jennifer Ross from WinterOwls says:

    Adler is inspiring, how I wish I had the courage to do what he did and ignore the naysayers. My father wouldn't let me do year 12 art as he said I wasn't talented enough. I then became my biggest naysayer and have spent twenty years being an unhappy teacher as a result. When I had cancer in 2009, I thought it's now or never. I put some paintings in a local cafe and to my delight they sold! I need to create like I need to do any other essential thing in my life. This year I lost my teaching job due to funding cuts, so I am trying finally, to make a job out of what I have a passion for. By the way, my father is now one of my biggest supporters.

    2 years ago

  • Winterowls

    Jennifer Ross from WinterOwls says:

    eek, how embarrissing! My first comment didn't show up so I did a second one! Oops!

    2 years ago

  • HandpaintedThreads

    Maureen from HandpaintedThreads says:

    Great interview! Love the new ripple vases.

    2 years ago

  • atelierpompadour

    paola from atelierpompadour says:

    I LOVEEEE Jonathan Adler!!!

    2 years ago

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm from baconsquarefarm says:

    Love your work,........congrats on the interview and success you've enjoyed.....cute doggie too.

    2 years ago

  • ReinasStudio

    ReinasStudio from ReinasStudio says:

    Great work!! I love the dog too! :)

    2 years ago

  • saltcityspice

    Katrina from saltandginger says:

    What a great interview! I love the way your designs always have a playful feel to them - it's an excellent reminder that home decor doesn't have to be so serious all the time. Thank you for sharing part of your story here!

    2 years ago

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger says:

    I love to hear stories where people go against all odds and prove people wrong...What a great success story....

    2 years ago


    Deana Mattos Diefenbach from BellaCosaArt says:

    Love his style, thanks for the great contest.

    2 years ago

  • L2Country

    L2Country from L2Country says:

    I have one of his design and decorating books....I love his ideas because Jonathan uses colors in such an innovative way...Also, I just love his collections (very funky and unique) and his home, not tomention his pottery and print designs...TXs for this article!...Lina

    2 years ago

  • emwi

    Emily Wirt from emwi says:

    Love Jonathan Adler! Great feature to get to look more into his work space. Thanks for the wonderful interview.

    2 years ago

  • gescate

    Gino Escate from Gygante says:

    Great interview! thanks!

    2 years ago

  • SmallkineCreations

    Amy from SmallkineCreations says:

    Great interview! Aloha. =)

    2 years ago

  • linenworkshop

    Annie Sue from LinenWorkshop says:

    Love Jonathan Adler maximalism style. So chic!

    2 years ago

  • gboliver

    Gail Oliver from AttentionGetting says:

    I love his work. Thanks for getting the interview!

    2 years ago

  • RareRagsandTreasures

    RareRagsandTreasures from RareRagsandTreasures says:

    Nice little interview. Fun to hear how it all began. Sweet puppy!

    2 years ago

  • SusanFaye

    Susan Faye from SusanFayePetProjects says:

    For every Jonathan Adler in the world who found the spirit to defy his naysayer, there are thousands of creative souls who were not so lucky-- and had their creativity snuffed out of them at an early age by the "art police", whether it was a parent, a teacher, or some other person of "authority". Whenever one of those souls crosses my path, I always tell them there are no rules to creativity, be persistent, let that inner child loose and PLAY! Thanks for this great interview which shows what can happen when the inner creative child runs wild and free! The world is a much more beautiful place for it.

    2 years ago

  • kcparade

    Kim from TimeNSeasonTreasures says:

    Thank you! I am taking the following quote ->"Jonathan: I was the most scatterbrained, impractical, carefree craftsperson ever to walk the face of the earth and somehow I managed to make it. If I did it, you can, too." And hanging it right over my desk. Not that I am ever any of those things *rolling eyes with a little snicker* Again and again thank you for your wonderful work and inspiring article!

    2 years ago

  • BCtwo

    Katrina Balling from BCtwo says:


    2 years ago

  • LadyBausch

    Autumn Marie Bausch from LadyBauschDesigns says:

    This is very inspiration and makes me want to strive to do better!

    2 years ago

  • ginew

    Jeeranut Noikhong from ginew says:

    Great interview :)

    2 years ago

  • dizhasneatstuff

    deb fearon from dizhasneatstuff says:

    i cherish my early Adler pieces, even keeping my bridge work in one of his covered dishes! I've always been thrilled he and Simon found each other!

    2 years ago

  • DirtyRags

    Mya from DirtyRags says:

    You're never "too" old to do what you love, or better yet, to find out what you love. Some people can go their whole lives and not love what they do. It is a beautiful thing when one gets to do what they love. Awesome and inspiring!

    2 years ago

  • marygaspar

    Mary Gaspar from MaryGasparArt says:

    This is SO great and I, too, love the naysayer story. You showed them I'd say! Fun AND chic really resonated with me as brilliant is THAT!? Yay Jonathan Adler!

    2 years ago

  • kpoklemba

    Katie Schmitt from PassengerSeatArt says:

    Great article! Jonathan Adler's designs are so fun and whimsical. I love popping into his shops in NYC. I love that he had a nemesis to work against and that he has found someone to share the remote with. Love is so simple and yet, as he shows, so beautiful!

    2 years ago

  • JillianReneDecor

    Jillian Carmine from JillianReneDecor says:

    What a great spirit you bring to your craft. I first fell in love with your work, years ago, while working at a furniture store that carried a few of your pieces. I've followed you ever since. Your positive attitude towards your professor's advice resonates with me on many levels and I could agree more! Sometimes it's just what you need to keep the fire burning and it makes every accomplishment just a little bit sweeter with that internal "told you so" moment of reflection. Great interview and best wishes to your continued success!

    2 years ago

  • sidneydodge

    Sidney Dodge from sidneydodge says:

    I like him alot so it was fun to read an interview on etsy....another inspiring interview. Thanks!

    2 years ago

  • PomLove

    Kirsten Hadley from PomLove says:

    Alright, Jonathan! I was just at your Portland store! Great interview, both of you! xx

    2 years ago

  • sparrowsalvage

    Sparrow from sparrowsalvage says:

    I love love love to hear these stories of people who've made it with their talent- and it's these stories I like best, where the person was >this< close to falling down. I remember seeing Adler's work in Elle Decor UK waaaaaaaaaaay back in the early 90s, I'm so excited to see he's still going and making an empire out of it! We should all remember these tales when we're on the bottom rung, and that so much in this world has started from nothing.

    2 years ago

  • shoprodinia

    Rodinia from ShopRodinia says:

    A fun inside look at Jonathan Adler. I've always appreciated his nods to mid-century norwegian ceramics. Great photo at the potter's wheel, and in white pants no less! You are very brave or must have a lot of white pants! Thanks for the story!

    2 years ago

  • rosalynvintage

    Rosalyn Martz from rosalynvintage says:

    Insightful and inspiring, Thank you Jonathan Adler for sharing your story -- thank you for saying the story about that one naysayer-- well, I'll take your advise and rebel against it.--Love, love your Chic and Joyful works and masterpieces :) I am a proud owner of one of your wonderfully designed king bedding set...It makes me smile andmake me feel chic :) In my creative process, there is always that obligation to be considerate of the norm, after reading this interview ( thank you Karen) I now know what is missing--I need a little irreverence! I'm starting to feel free already...More joy and power to you, Jonathan and to your chic and wonderful family :)

    2 years ago

  • MundanalRuido

    Silvia Vázquez from MundanalRuido says:

    Congrats for the interview, Karen! It's so inspiring! All of us start a bit confused in the creative world. At the beginning you're so lost....! I really like to know people that achieve their dreams!! :) I highlighted a sentence during my reading: I was an outlier, and it was a creative place to be. :D Thank you so much for the interview!

    2 years ago

  • SundayOwl

    Lisa from SundayOwl says:

    Dear Jonathan, I just adore your sophisticated and quirky style. I LOVE my Utopia Teapot, she's so charming. I wish you and Simon much happiness.

    2 years ago

  • DeepSilence

    Sonja Bikić from DeepSilence says:

    This is very nice.

    2 years ago

  • studiosuseela

    Suseela from AliceinHolland says:

    What a lovely start of the day :)

    2 years ago

  • CasaBlahBlah

    Ursula Koenig from CasaBlahBlah says:

    Thanks for interviewing an inspirational and gifted artist.

    2 years ago

  • AlongCameMary

    Mary Mailler from AlongCameMary says:

    Too funny! I love that advice from your teacher, NOT! Blessings! Mary

    2 years ago

  • theowlshop

    Becky from wanderandroar says:

    Great story of perseverance! Thanks for sharing...

    2 years ago

  • judygovintage

    Judy from judygovintage says:

    To allow ourselves the freedom to be ourselves...Without FEAR is no small thing. An approach to design that goes beyond philosophy. Maybe that's something that can't be taught in a classroom but what if it was....Raise your glass high to those who learn and help others learn to be themselves.

    2 years ago

  • mbueb

    Monica Bueb from MonicaBags says:

    Beautiful work! And to throw it all in pristine white pants, he's my hero. Thank you, Karen!

    2 years ago

  • Blucha

    Erika Price from Blucha says:

    Wonderfully inspirational - well done Jonathon for ignoring the "advice" of his pottery teacher!

    2 years ago

  • eenk

    Vanesa Jeric from eenk says:

    I love the naysayers!! haha I can relate, I was trying to get into a major at my art college that i knew deep down wasn't right for me and she rejected me and told me my work had "no spark." Well, I took my work to another department and they welcomed me with open arms and I have never been happier doing what I do. Congratulations Jonathon, keep on keepin' on :)

    2 years ago

  • swaggjewelry

    April McGee-Riess from RawLuxGems says:

    Love Johnathan Adler. It was great to read about his start and how he's gotten to be so successful. Thanks for sharing ;-)

    2 years ago

  • makematchmodify

    kelly reid from rdconstruction says:

    Love this interview! I've always been a fan of his work, and the naysayer advice - so true!

    2 years ago

  • TootHillMedley

    Lois from TootHillMedley says:

    *slightly puzzled* whilst it's an interesting article, why is it specifically featured as part of the UK Blog, with a rider about the Pinterest Competition, when the Competition can only be entered by USA residents? After all, every global Etsian has access to the Main Blog, so why's it need a special push in a local domestic blog for people who CAN'T JOIN IN THE COMP? On the other hand, I like the way that of the 68 pins in the Competition, 2 are adverts, 17 are for Mr Adler's products which can't be bought using the key prize of the $1K gift card and another 17 or 18 are for non-USA shops, where again the Gift Card can't be used - leaving only 31 pins actually relevant to the major part of the prize. As usual I'm taking the approach of joining in the fun, even though I'm excluded from winning: because eventually if enough of us do it, someone somewhere might notice that we like joining in. And would like to do so within the rules?

    2 years ago

  • elizabethforster

    elle and belle Forster from elleandbellejewelry says:

    Great work, great interview. Naysayer as inspiration, so true sometimes.

    2 years ago

  • lmouer

    Lynsey from lmouer says:

    Great interview. Thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • guidouxvintage

    Guidoux Vintage from GuidouxVintage says:

    Very inspiring!! Love the style and the colors!

    2 years ago

  • lovelyfeverboutique

    Jessica from LovelyFever says:

    It just shows that sometimes even the opinions of so-called experts are not always true....kudos to Jonathan Adler for continuing his craft, despite what his former pottery teacher said about him having no talent!

    2 years ago

  • AnnaCreative

    Anna from AnnaGrincuka says:


    2 years ago

  • JessieArch

    Jessie Archambault from 1509Partridgeberry says:

    Very inspirational story of starting from nothing and making your own success :) And Liberace is adorable!

    2 years ago

  • WalterSilva

    Walter Silva from WalterSilva says:

    I remember Adler from the Brown and RISD days! I knew he would make it big!

    2 years ago

  • joyscottglass

    Joy from coastalartglass says:

    Pottery was one of my first love ! Love the form and function of your work.

    2 years ago

  • NadiaNL

    Nadia NL from LaLanterne says:

    J'ADORE.... !!!!

    2 years ago

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign says: Featured

    It's always satisfying –– and rare –– to see a designer who lives his values. I love the way Jonathan's responses reveal his deep convictions, couched in the same humor and wit as his aesthetic. I really got the feeling of someone who is living exactly the life he was born to live.

    2 years ago

  • cubiciti

    Addy Widjaja from cubiciti says:

    Delightful and charming interview! Love Jonathan Adler's work and style. Thanks for sharing!

    2 years ago

  • SilkBowTies

    Dan Lee from VaVaNeckwear says:

    "I was the most scatterbrained, impractical, carefree craftsperson ever to walk the face of the earth and somehow I managed to make it. If I did it, you can, too." Phew. So good to hear this. I sometimes fear that this dizzy queen is not business-savvy enough to make it. I will keep on trucking & keep keeping my fingers & toes crossed...

    2 years ago

  • samsstuff

    Shelley McElhiney from samsstuff says:

    I love the bit about the naysayer, pottery instructor, I know I've had one of these in my past (well, not pottery instructor, but definitely naysayer, art instructor). Jonathon's pieces are indeed both whimsical & classic, thank you for sharing this interview with us.

    2 years ago

  • irinisklavounou

    irini from IrinisWorld says:

    I can relate to that. ...... The first sixteen years of my life were naysay all the way until i left school, took my life, literally, into my own hands and the next fifty five years have been one great barrel load of yesses and still counting. As an artist criticism can be useful but it should not rule.

    2 years ago

  • MeSheDesignsLLC

    Michelle Fernandez from MeSheDesignsLLC says:

    This was a fantastic interview I especially enjoyed his answer "I was the most scatterbrained, impractical, carefree craftsperson ever to walk the face of the earth and somehow I managed to make it. If I did it, you can, too." Lovely to see someone make a life with something they love!

    2 years ago

  • foxpots

    Carole Fox from foxpots says:

    Fun & interesting story. But I don't for a minute believe he threw that tall vase in those white pants without getting a speck of clay on them :-)

    2 years ago

  • ElkeHutchens

    Elke Hutchens from ElkeHutchens says:

    I have been a fan of Jonathan Adler for a long time. I saw an interview with Jonathan on TV and was inspired by his enthusiasm and humility. He made me feel like I could follow my dreams and make them reality. Thank you Jonathan Adler!

    2 years ago

  • LoveButtons

    Julia K Walton from FireHorseVintageHQ says:

    What a joyful interview to read. The pottery is wonderful and unique. Liberace looks like quite a character, too. Kisses :ox

    2 years ago

  • onlymadeonce

    Carol Wagner from EclecticBead says:

    Love the interview! Great to see someone loving what they do!

    2 years ago

  • missive

    missive from missive says:

    I've been a long admirer of Jonathan Adler's work (and I'm a very happy owner of several of his early pieces from the Relief collection). This interview was a joy to read and I loved hearing his personal story—what he says about naysayers is absolutely true! I'm so happy to be following my own path and pursuing what I want to do.

    2 years ago

  • ecinja1

    Ecinja from ecinja1 says:

    Jonathan Adler's interview is truly inspiring. I love his work! He is a perfect example of what happens when you folllow your bliss.

    2 years ago

  • islandgirlpottery

    Jacqueline Allard from IslandGirlPottery says:

    I really enjoyed reading this interview. I love how you turned negative energy into a postitive!

    2 years ago

  • ModernFibre

    ModernFibre from ModernFibre says:

    Thanks to Jonathan for this encouraging words, and for the awesome ceramic pill canisters too!

    2 years ago

  • KellyColemanCoursey

    Kelly Coleman Coursey from KellyColemanCoursey says:

    Thank you for this interview! I really needed to read this!!

    2 years ago

  • moczan22

    Maryssa Moczan from MaryssaMoczanStudios says:

    Great interview! It's great hearing that others can turn the negativity of a past teacher into something motivating!

    2 years ago

  • reginamiles1

    Regina from ChainAndCluster says:

    Lovely and inspiring article! Congrats to you!!

    2 years ago

  • WeirDlit

    Jane O from Mawusi says:

    I needed to read this. Art is so significant in our society and yet it is treated as if it is irrelevant. It has always been through art thatI feel the happiest. There are too many critics out there who know nothing but the 'rules.' true art has no rules, but what ones heart dictates. We are unique, we have different views on things. It saddens me that there are so many out there who do not understand that art is an important way to life. Reading this is encouraging. I am happy for Adler. I do what I do because I need to do it. It's when I am most alive. I pray that I will be as blessed someday to live off it as he has been. Very inspiring.

    2 years ago

  • bpPhotoProps

    Cathy Costa from bpPhotoProps says:

    Great inspirational article! Continued success to you and family, Jonathan!

    2 years ago

  • rinamiriam
  • butterflies4socrates

    Angela Holland from barefootprincessita says:

    He said, "Etsy is doing The Lords work."

    2 years ago

  • thelonebeader

    Diana Grygo from thelonebeader says:

    Great article!! Love Liberace!! :D

    2 years ago

  • SummerSaylor

    Rose Hill Design Studio from RoseHillDesignStudio says:

    I have always adored him. Thank you for sharing this article with us!

    2 years ago

  • KbOriginalsetc

    Kim Berger from KbOriginalsetc says:

    Great article...having a nay-sayer or analyzer in our lifes is one of the best things ever for artists. I know first hand ;-)

    2 years ago

  • SunshineandRavioli

    Stephanie from SunshineandRavioli says:

    So much respect for this man! An inspiration for creative types working to succeed on their own terms. And then I found out he was married to Simon Doonan- ♥ him too (one of the best things about early ANTM episodes)!

    2 years ago

  • muddyum

    muddyum from muddyum says:

    WOW it's hard to imagine he was “failing and unemployable" This gives me hope!!!

    2 years ago

  • LandonField

    Robin and Merle Van Houten from LandonField says:

    Great advise. Thanks for the article.

    2 years ago

  • genisepark

    Genise Park from genisepark says:

    Awesome interview, I am very happy that you stuck with your art work in spite of those comments!!!!

    2 years ago

  • Erniegal

    Erniegal says:

    I found a great deal of inspiration in the words of Jonathon Adler - staying true to oneself, despite numerous setbacks & thoughtless or short-sighted commentary from others indicates that it can indeed all work out in the end through conviction and perseverance. Lessons for us all.

    2 years ago

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas from FreakyPeas says:

    You were lucky to be able to stick to your passion at such a young age. I hope other young people are inspired by your story.

    2 years ago

  • sparkledwhimsy

    Sparkled Whimsy from SparkledWhimsy says:

    So uplifting! Fabulous interview!

    2 years ago

  • nanciraygun

    Elle Atkins says:

    I love his "failing and unemployable" comments. It makes him so human and so easy to connect to. Thank you so much for being an inspiration to just get out there and work hard at your dreams! On a side note- I just moved in with the best person on the entire planet, and we're melding out lives together. We're decorating our new loft and it's so overwhelming and crazy sorting through two of everything and figuring out what our style is going to be. It's nice to draw some inspiration from Jonathan. "If I did it, you can, too." AMEN!!

    2 years ago

  • Ohceola

    Aly Morgan from ohceola says:

    What a fabulous interview! I love Jonathan Adler and his amazing style - so fresh and modern...very inspiring!

    2 years ago

  • byDelirium

    Angela from DeliriumAccessories says:

    Amazing story!!!

    2 years ago

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign says:

    So many of you have commented on Jonathan calling himself " scatterbrained, impractical, and carefree." As an example, here's a story he tells about his early days in business. After Jonathan made his first sale of pottery to Barneys New York, no payment arrived from Barneys. Eventually, he called them to inquire and they said, "Oh, you're the one who didn't send an invoice." That's right, he didn't know what an invoice was. Stories like this give me a tremendous amount of personal comfort, know what I mean?

    2 years ago

  • naturalwooddesign

    Darren from naturalwooddesign says:

    Awesome and inspiring !! Great interview !! :)

    2 years ago

  • CMarieAndCo

    CMarieAndCo from CMarieAndCo says:

    Great interview! I LOVE Jonathan Adler's style. Thank you for the inspiration! I too am crazy scatterbrained but I just want to make stuff out of the coolest textiles I can find. If someone likes them well enough to buy, then I feel doubly blessed. I got an opportunity to visit Jonathan's shop in SoHo last summer while my husband & I were on vacation visiting our son who lives there & I thought I died and went to heaven! Such a cheerful shop!

    2 years ago

  • parkerdeborah03

    parkerdeborah03 from parkerdeborah03 says:

    I enjoyed the interview with Jonathan Adler - all of his work is beautiful & outstanding!! Liberace is so cute!!

    2 years ago

  • lapisbeach

    Lauren from lapisbeach says:

    Johnathan - I just saw those awesome hats in the INSTYLE today! I want to pin those!

    2 years ago

  • TaylorArts

    Christine and Marc from TaylorArts says:

    It takes guts and dedication to do what the world tells you can't do. Congrats on making it through to the other side. I'm inspired, too. After 16 years, we're ready to be an overnight success, but short of that we're happy to keep making a living as two married artists. Can't complain a bit.

    2 years ago

  • perchshop

    Ali Thompson from PerchShop says:

    i love reading interviews from success creative people. very inspiring!

    2 years ago

  • thedelhistore

    thedelhistore from theDelhiStore says:

    Really inspiring story! Great interview!

    2 years ago

  • tripathismriti

    Smriti from DesiFabrics says:

    Awesome creativity!

    2 years ago

  • TheDulceVida

    Myra Pizarro from LittleLemonadeStudio says:

    It is nice to read about this. I recently noticed that Jonathan is a designer for Bare minerals cosmetic retailers. What an inspiring story.

    2 years ago

  • nativestrandsjewelry

    Rachel from PeppersJewelry says:

    I love the image of him working on the pottery. It is amazing to see clay formed into an object. Fantastic post!

    2 years ago

  • tippleandsnack

    Tipple and Snack from tippleandsnack says:

    I love Jonathan Adler's pottery and home decor goods. Such an eye for form and a touch of whimsy. (wish they were made in the USA though)

    2 years ago

  • makemesmilejewelry

    cheryl wagner from MakeMeSmileJewelry says:

    I love his pieces,very playful..... very inspiring,gives me Hope here on Etsy thank you.. Cher

    2 years ago

  • 2SistersHandmade

    Anne Dixon from 2SistersHandmade says:

    How very inspiring. This is a great story to read to help re-fuel your determination to succeed. Thanks!

    2 years ago

  • LaAlicia

    La Alicia from LaAlicia says:

    wonderful interview! hugs to the pup.

    2 years ago

  • Snowdon

    Alexandra Snowdon from Snowdon says:

    Great interview, and how adorable is Liberace!

    2 years ago

  • TwistedSilverDesign

    Yuen Wong from TwistedSilverDesign says:

    Thank you for such an inspring interview. Love Jonathan Adler's work and the little puppy too. :)

    2 years ago

  • ArleenDesign

    ArleenDesign from ArleenDesign says:

    Always been a fan of Jonathan Adler and his fabulous design easthetic! Thanks for the inspiring interview.

    2 years ago

  • shopdomestica

    Domestica - Chrissy Jensen says:

    One look at my shop and you know I love Jonathan Adler everything - always will.

    2 years ago

  • lauraegardner

    Laura says:

    Oh my goodness! What breed of dog is Liberace? Cute!

    2 years ago

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign says:

    Worksofwhimsy –– You asked for some of Jonathan's favorite Etsy items? They are here:

    2 years ago

  • bellallure

    Betina from bellallure says:

    Great interview!

    2 years ago

  • janeeroberti

    Jane E Roberti from janeeroberti says:

    I wish I could put Etsy in a time machine and send it back to 1993 when I was getting my start as a potter. The fact that craftspeople can now control their own distribution is nothing short of a miracle; ^^^^ This is so true. I know because I started a children's clothing business in 1993, and grew it for many years from sewing myself to contracting work, and from selling to neighbors, to art/craft fairs, to local stores, to nationwide boutiques at trade shows. All along, I liked most selling directly to the end consumer, but it was hard to do, until the internet, and Etsy. Great interview, Jonathan. Thanks for talking to us!

    2 years ago

  • nicoleduff

    Nicole Duff from MoodDesignStudio says:

    I can't even tell you how excited I was to see an interview with Jonathan Adler on Etsy! I LOVE his work and he has been one of the most influential designers to me! We share a similar aesthetic and love for bright colors and bold designs ; ) Thank you, Jonathan, for paving the way for us! XX Nicole Mood Design Studio

    2 years ago

  • jewlsgifts

    Jewls Gifts from JewlsGifts says:

    Your designs are fab :-)

    2 years ago

  • FAMAartstudio

    FAMAartstudio from FAMAartstudio says:

    Great interview!

    2 years ago

  • Razzamazazz

    Razzamazazz from RAZZAMAZZAZ says:

    I've never seen anyone so CLEAN working on a potters wheel LOL

    2 years ago