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An Interview With Jonathan Adler

Feb 11, 2013

by Karen Brown

Etsy.com 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.

2 Featured Comments

  • GracefullyGirly

    Kimberlee from GracefullyGirly said 5 years ago 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!

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign said 5 years ago 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.

193 comments

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 5 years ago

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

  • DecadesOfVintage

    DecadesOfVintage from DecadesOfVintage said 5 years ago

    Jonathan Adler has such a fabulous sense of color!!

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 5 years ago

    What a great interview!!!

  • thelandlockedsailor

    The Bosun and Sarita Li Johnson from TheLandlockedSailor said 5 years ago

    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}

  • GinaDeSantis

    Gina DeSantis from GinaDeSantis said 5 years ago

    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!

  • thelittlemarket

    Debbie from thelittlemarket said 5 years ago

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

  • amysfunkyfibers

    Amy Gunderson from amysfunkyfibers said 5 years ago

    So great that you followed your dreams! Beautiful work!

  • misschristiana

    Christiana Odum from YarnDarlin said 5 years ago

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

  • aostudio9

    Adrienne from DabAndDabble said 5 years ago

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

  • ArtDecoDame

    Desiree from ArtDecoDame said 5 years ago

    Great read,love his style!

  • oncloud7

    oncloud7 from oncloud7 said 5 years ago

    Beautiful work. Adorable dog. What breed is he?

  • LaurenBauschOriginal

    Lauren O'Quinn from LaurenBauschOriginal said 5 years ago

    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.

  • SayMyNameShop

    Courtney from SayMyNameShop said 5 years ago

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

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign said 5 years ago

    Hi oncloud7 –– Liberace is a Norwich terrier.

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 5 years ago

    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.

  • AlisaDesign

    Alisa from AlisaDesign said 5 years ago

    Awesome!

  • littlepancakes

    Melissa Pancakes from littlepancakes said 5 years ago

    Great interview, especially the puppy!

  • dreamyvintage

    dreamyvintage from dreamyvintage said 5 years ago

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

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy from worksofwhimsy said 5 years ago

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

  • auntjanecan

    Jane Priser from JanePriserArts said 5 years ago

    Oh so interesting! Amazing story and wonderful ceramics.

  • fieldtrip

    Amy from fieldtrip said 5 years ago

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

  • elisabethringewald

    Elisabeth Ringewald from MaineCoonCrafts said 5 years ago

    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...

  • rachelungerjewelry

    Rachel Unger from RachelUngerJewelry said 5 years ago

    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.

  • GaryRam

    Gary and Heather from littleRamstudio said 5 years ago

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

  • sonyarasi

    Sonya Rasi from sonyarasi said 5 years ago

    Wonderful interview!

  • CafePrimrose

    Amanda Gynther from CafePrimrose said 5 years ago

    I love the dog

  • TidBitz

    TidBitz from TidBitz said 5 years ago

    Short, but very inspirational!

  • jwlc

    Josephine from MettleMakes said 5 years ago

    Great reminder to approach challenges as teachers to grow from!

  • JulieMeyer

    Julie Meyer from JulieMeyer said 5 years ago

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

  • opendoorstudio

    Martha Layton Smith from opendoorstudio said 5 years ago

    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!

  • auniquedesign4u

    pam from stunningstuff4u said 5 years ago

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

  • VeronicaRStudio

    Veronica from VeronicaRussekJoyas said 5 years ago

    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!

  • glynniskillen

    Diane and Glynnis from DiGiJewels said 5 years ago

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

  • Aristocrafts

    Aristocrafts from Aristocrafts said 5 years ago

    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 :)!

  • hasincla

    hasincla from travelwanderings said 5 years ago

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

  • miriammcgowan

    miriam from MizMiriam said 5 years ago

    love that your unstoppable, god bless you .

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered said 5 years ago

    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.

  • mvmayophotography

    Mary Mayo from MVMayoPhotography said 5 years ago

    Great interview. Love those chairs!

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered said 5 years ago

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

  • livingstonandporter

    livingstonandporter from livingstonandporter said 5 years ago

    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.

  • ladygatsby1

    Martha Muthoni from LadyGatsbyLuxePaper said 5 years ago

    fabulous - i love this!

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 5 years ago

    What a great interview!

  • TheQueenOfQuiteALot

    TheQueenOfQuiteALot from TheQueenOfQuiteALot said 5 years ago

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

  • NancysBagsEtc

    Nancy Ratte' from NancyEllenStudios said 5 years ago

    Great interview - love his style.

  • DesignsStainedGlass

    Nancy Ratte' from DesignsStainedGlass said 5 years ago

    Wonderful pottery. Love those chairs too!

  • AudreyLarsonDesign

    Audrey Louise from AudreyLouiseStudio said 5 years ago

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

  • silverlily786

    Fatema from SilverLilyJewelry said 5 years ago

    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.

  • GisieArt

    Giselle from MyArtAndFashion said 5 years ago

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

  • SomeKindOfPretty

    Catheryn Dallenbach from SomeKindOfPretty said 5 years ago

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

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 5 years ago

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

  • Parachute425

    Terry from Parachute425 said 5 years ago

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

  • StillVintage

    StillVintage from StillVintage said 5 years ago

    The pictures attached to the interview are beautiful

  • bariand

    Arina Kushnir from bariand said 5 years ago

    Great interview!

  • jnorvelle

    Jayne Norvelle from jnorvelle said 5 years ago

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

  • catherinelouise12

    Catherine Louise from MyMysteriousPast said 5 years ago

    Great interview!

  • BrooklynLoveDesigns

    Megan C from AlaskaBagCompany said 5 years ago

    great interview and cute puppy dog!

  • lapisbeach

    Lauren from lapisbeach said 5 years ago

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

  • GracefullyGirly

    Kimberlee from GracefullyGirly said 5 years ago 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!

  • LeasaMarie

    Leasa from LeasaDesigns said 5 years ago

    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!!

  • KaiceJoy

    Kirsti Joy from KaiceJoy said 5 years ago

    thanks for the great interview!

  • messina918

    Stacey Messina from FillThatSpace said 5 years ago

    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.

  • camermaidjewelry

    Troy Stengel from camermaidjewelry said 5 years ago

    Excellent interview - very inspiring!

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 5 years ago

    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.

  • jmeckstein613

    Joelle Eckstein from ChezJoelle said 5 years ago

    Great interview, so encouraging !

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 5 years ago

    Great Q&A.

  • WintergreenDesign

    Christa Cunningham from WintergreenDesign said 5 years ago

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

  • rebeccagoebel

    Rebecca Goebel from OctoberNative said 5 years ago

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

  • peaseblossomstudio

    Caroline from AnchorRoad said 5 years ago

    " 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! :)

  • PaintedHorse

    susi from PaintedHorse said 5 years ago

    Great read and simply love that puppy!

  • honeystreasures

    Michael and Lisa from honeystreasures said 5 years ago

    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.

  • gilstrapdesigns

    Debra Gilstrap from gilstrapdesigns said 5 years ago

    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)!!!

  • InglesidePottery

    Laine from InglesidePottery said 5 years ago

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

  • orangegirl

    Kirstie Tweed said 5 years ago

    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.

  • seekthetreasure

    seekthetreasure from seekthetreasure said 5 years ago

    What an inspiring piece. Thanks.

  • olusholaj

    Shola from YarningKnots said 5 years ago

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

  • GeorgieGirlLLC

    D George from GeorgieGirlLLC said 5 years ago

    Wonderful interview!! Congratulations on the feature!!

  • Winterowls

    Jennifer Ross from WinterOwls said 5 years ago

    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.........

  • Winterowls

    Jennifer Ross from WinterOwls said 5 years ago

    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.

  • Winterowls

    Jennifer Ross from WinterOwls said 5 years ago

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

  • HandpaintedThreads

    Maureen from HandpaintedThreads said 5 years ago

    Great interview! Love the new ripple vases.

  • atelierpompadour

    paola from atelierpompadour said 5 years ago

    I LOVEEEE Jonathan Adler!!!

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm from baconsquarefarm said 5 years ago

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

  • ReinasStudio

    ReinasStudio from ReinasStudio said 5 years ago

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

  • saltcityspice

    Katrina from saltandginger said 5 years ago

    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!

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 5 years ago

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

  • BELLACOSAART

    Deana Mattos Diefenbach from BellaCosaArt said 5 years ago

    Love his style, thanks for the great contest.

  • L2Country

    L2Country from L2Country said 5 years ago

    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

  • emwi

    Emily Wirt from emwi said 5 years ago

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

  • gescate

    Gino Escate from Gygante said 5 years ago

    Great interview! thanks!

  • SmallkineCreations

    Amy from SmallkineCreations said 5 years ago

    Great interview! Aloha. =)

  • linenworkshop

    Annie Sue from LinenWorkshop said 5 years ago

    Love Jonathan Adler maximalism style. So chic!

  • gboliver

    Gail Oliver from AttentionGetting said 5 years ago

    I love his work. Thanks for getting the interview!

  • RareRagsandTreasures

    RareRagsandTreasures from RareRagsandTreasures said 5 years ago

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

  • SusanFaye

    Susan Faye from SusanFayePetProjects said 5 years ago

    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.

  • kcparade

    Kim from TimeNSeasonTreasures said 5 years ago

    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!

  • BCtwo

    Katrina Balling from BCtwo said 5 years ago

    awesome.

  • LadyBausch

    Autumn Marie Bausch from LadyBauschDesigns said 5 years ago

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

  • ginew

    Jeeranut Noikhong from ginew said 5 years ago

    Great interview :)

  • dizhasneatstuff

    deb fearon from dizhasneatstuff said 5 years ago

    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!

  • DirtyRags

    Mya from DirtyRags said 5 years ago

    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!

  • marygaspar

    Mary Gaspar from MaryGasparArt said 5 years ago

    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 well...how brilliant is THAT!? Yay Jonathan Adler!

  • kpoklemba

    Katie Schmitt from PassengerSeatArt said 5 years ago

    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!

  • JillianReneDecor

    Jillian Carmine from JillianReneDecor said 5 years ago

    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!

  • sidneydodge

    Sidney Dodge from sidneydodge said 5 years ago

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

  • PomLove

    Kirsten Hadley from PomLove said 5 years ago

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

  • sparrowsalvage

    Sparrow from sparrowsalvage said 5 years ago

    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.

  • shoprodinia

    Rodinia from ShopRodinia said 5 years ago

    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!

  • rosalynvintage

    Rosalyn Martz from rosalynvintage said 5 years ago

    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 :)

  • MundanalRuido

    Silvia Vázquez from MundanalRuido said 5 years ago

    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!

  • SundayOwl

    Lisa from SundayOwl said 5 years ago

    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.

  • DeepSilence

    Sonja Bikić from DeepSilence said 5 years ago

    This is very nice.

  • studiosuseela

    Suseela from AliceinHolland said 5 years ago

    What a lovely start of the day :)

  • CasaBlahBlah

    Ursula Koenig from CasaBlahBlah said 5 years ago

    Thanks for interviewing an inspirational and gifted artist.

  • AlongCameMary

    Mary Mailler from AlongCameMary said 5 years ago

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

  • theowlshop

    Becky from wanderandroar said 5 years ago

    Great story of perseverance! Thanks for sharing...

  • judygovintage

    Judy from judygovintage said 5 years ago

    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.

  • mbueb

    Monica Bueb from MonicaBags said 5 years ago

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

  • Blucha

    Erika Price from Blucha said 5 years ago

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

  • eenk

    Vanesa Jeric from eenk said 5 years ago

    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 :)

  • swaggjewelry

    April McGee-Riess from RawLuxGems said 5 years ago

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

  • makematchmodify

    kelly reid from rdconstruction said 5 years ago

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

  • TootHillMedley

    Lois from TootHillMedley said 5 years ago

    *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?

  • elizabethforster

    elle and belle Forster from elleandbellejewelry said 5 years ago

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

  • lmouer

    Lynsey from lmouer said 5 years ago

    Great interview. Thanks for sharing!

  • guidouxvintage

    Guidoux Vintage from GuidouxVintage said 5 years ago

    Very inspiring!! Love the style and the colors!

  • lovelyfeverboutique

    Jessica from LovelyFever said 5 years ago

    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!

  • AnnaCreative

    Anna from AnnaGrincuka said 5 years ago

    Beautiful!

  • JessieArch

    Jessie Archambault from 1509Partridgeberry said 5 years ago

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

  • WalterSilva

    Walter Silva from WalterSilva said 5 years ago

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

  • joyscottglass

    Joy from coastalartglass said 5 years ago

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

  • NadiaNL

    Nadia NL from LaLanterne said 5 years ago

    J'ADORE.... !!!!

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign said 5 years ago 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.

  • cubiciti

    Addy Widjaja from cubiciti said 5 years ago

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

  • SilkBowTies

    Dan Lee from VaVaNeckwear said 5 years ago

    "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...

  • samsstuff

    Shelley McElhiney from samsstuff said 5 years ago

    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.

  • irinisklavounou

    irini from IrinisWorld said 5 years ago

    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.

  • MeSheDesignsLLC

    Michelle Fernandez from MeSheDesignsLLC said 5 years ago

    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!

  • foxpots

    Carole Fox from foxpots said 5 years ago

    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 :-)

  • ElkeHutchens

    Elke Hutchens from ElkeHutchens said 5 years ago

    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!

  • LoveButtons

    Julia K Walton from FireHorseVintageHQ said 5 years ago

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

  • onlymadeonce

    Carol Wagner from EclecticBead said 5 years ago

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

  • missive

    missive from missive said 5 years ago

    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.

  • ecinja1

    Ecinja from ecinja1 said 5 years ago

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

  • islandgirlpottery

    Jacqueline Allard from IslandGirlPottery said 5 years ago

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

  • ModernFibre

    ModernFibre from ModernFibre said 5 years ago

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

  • KellyColemanCoursey

    Kelly Coleman Coursey from KellyColemanCoursey said 5 years ago

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

  • moczan22

    Maryssa Moczan from MaryssaMoczanStudios said 5 years ago

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

  • reginamiles1

    Regina from ChainAndCluster said 5 years ago

    Lovely and inspiring article! Congrats to you!!

  • WeirDlit

    Jane O from Mawusi said 5 years ago

    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.

  • bpPhotoProps

    Cathy Costa from bpPhotoProps said 5 years ago

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

  • rinamiriam
  • butterflies4socrates

    Angela Holland from barefootprincessita said 5 years ago

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

  • thelonebeader

    Diana Grygo from thelonebeader said 5 years ago

    Great article!! Love Liberace!! :D

  • SummerSaylor

    Rose Hill Design Studio from RoseHillDesignStudio said 5 years ago

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

  • KbOriginalsetc

    Kim Berger from KbOriginalsetc said 5 years ago

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

  • SunshineandRavioli

    Stephanie from SunshineandRavioli said 5 years ago

    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)!

  • muddyum

    muddyum from muddyum said 5 years ago

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

  • LandonField

    Robin and Merle Van Houten from LandonField said 5 years ago

    Great advise. Thanks for the article.

  • genisepark

    Genise Park from genisepark said 5 years ago

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

  • Erniegal

    Erniegal said 5 years ago

    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.

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas from FreakyPeas said 5 years ago

    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.

  • sparkledwhimsy

    Sparkled Whimsy from SparkledWhimsy said 5 years ago

    So uplifting! Fabulous interview!

  • nanciraygun

    Elle Atkins said 5 years ago

    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!!

  • Ohceola

    Aly Morgan from ohceola said 5 years ago

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

  • byDelirium

    Angela from DeliriumAccessories said 5 years ago

    Amazing story!!!

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign said 5 years ago

    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?

  • naturalwooddesign

    Darren from naturalwooddesign said 5 years ago

    Awesome and inspiring !! Great interview !! :)

  • CMarieAndCo

    CMarieAndCo from CMarieAndCo said 5 years ago

    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!

  • parkerdeborah03

    parkerdeborah03 from parkerdeborah03 said 5 years ago

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

  • lapisbeach

    Lauren from lapisbeach said 5 years ago

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

  • TaylorArts

    Christine and Marc from TaylorArts said 5 years ago

    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.

  • perchshop

    Ali Thompson from PerchShop said 5 years ago

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

  • thedelhistore

    thedelhistore from theDelhiStore said 5 years ago

    Really inspiring story! Great interview!

  • tripathismriti

    Smriti from DesiFabrics said 5 years ago

    Awesome creativity!

  • TheDulceVida

    Myra Pizarro from LittleLemonadeStudio said 5 years ago

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

  • nativestrandsjewelry

    Rachel from PeppersJewelry said 5 years ago

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

  • tippleandsnack

    Tipple and Snack from tippleandsnack said 5 years ago

    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)

  • makemesmilejewelry

    cheryl wagner from MakeMeSmileJewelry said 5 years ago

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

  • 2SistersHandmade

    Anne Dixon from 2SistersHandmade said 5 years ago

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

  • LaAlicia

    La Alicia from LaAlicia said 5 years ago

    wonderful interview! hugs to the pup.

  • Snowdon

    Alexandra Snowdon from Snowdon said 5 years ago

    Great interview, and how adorable is Liberace!

  • TwistedSilverDesign

    Yuen Wong from TwistedSilverDesign said 5 years ago

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

  • ArleenDesign

    ArleenDesign from ArleenDesign said 5 years ago

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

  • shopdomestica

    Domestica - Chrissy Jensen said 5 years ago

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

  • lauraegardner

    Laura said 5 years ago

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

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign said 5 years ago

    Worksofwhimsy –– You asked for some of Jonathan's favorite Etsy items? They are here: http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2013/jonathan-adlers-etsy-finds/?ref=fp_blog_title

  • bellallure

    Betina from bellallure said 5 years ago

    Great interview!

  • janeeroberti

    Jane E Roberti from janeeroberti said 5 years ago

    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!

  • nicoleduff

    Nicole Duff from MoodDesignStudio said 5 years ago

    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

  • jewlsgifts

    Jewls Gifts from JewlsGifts said 5 years ago

    Your designs are fab :-)

  • FAMAartstudio

    FAMAartstudio from FAMAartstudio said 5 years ago

    Great interview!

  • Razzamazazz

    Razzamazazz from RAZZAMAZZAZ said 5 years ago

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

  • RuffDraftCa

    Lily Lawrence said 3 years ago

    Ha! love this artist and this interview. I also attended RISD (BFA Illustration) and had a similar foe. Every time she looked upon her students' work her expression was that of someone who just sniffed an old egg, miserable people just need to try to drag everyone else into their muck eh? While i am delighted to realize i cant even recall her name i will never forget the teacher who balanced all that negativity with humor and an obvious passion for working with young artists (thank you Oren Sherman ;). For every 100 sour-faced naysayers we have to flee from there's a real mentor worth stopping for, both types make us stronger

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