A deep dive into craftsmanship with Jérémy Bellina
Quitting his corporate job in supply chain management to pursue pottery, Jérémy Bellina has done what most of us don't dare to do, he chased his passion. It all started about three years ago when he bought himself a pottery wheel and he started teaching himself by watching YouTube. Soon after he completely lost interest in his day job and became obsessed with ceramics. Fast forward to the present day and he just moved into his new sunlit pottery studio on a quiet street of Neukölln. His can-do and hands-on attitude translates into an inventive language based on geometric shapes and sometimes seeks out the limits between design and functionality. Besides making beautiful ceramics, he’s now ready to pass on his skills and has started offering workshops.
> Jeremy Bellina with the KNOK Silver Grey Key Holder Lanyard
What drove you to start your own business?
Pottery started as a hobby, something I did in my free time and kept to myself at the beginning. But it rapidly turned into a small obsession. At the same time my corporate life was deteriorating to the point I didn't feel like showing up any longer. I was left with no job and a ceramic studio so I decided that the studio would be my new workplace. That's how I became a potter. I was not good at it though. So I practiced a lot, eventually people liked some of my creations and I started selling.
You’ve turned your hobby into your profession. Do you still get the emotional/physical release out of pottery like when it was a hobby or did you pick up another hobby to balance things out?
It can be exhausting, especially when I produce the same shape over and over again. I don't really have a side activity/hobby to clear my mind anymore (thanks Rona). But if I am bored with a task I can always take a day or an afternoon off to create something new by making shapes or glaze experiments. After a hard production day I treat myself to making a new vase for instance...which can maybe sound a bit sad to some. I also like gardening and spending time with my partner.
How long have you had your business? What are your go-to tips, tools or techniques to overcome the tough days? i.e what keeps you motivated!
I have been doing it full time for over 3 years. I am not great at giving advice. I guess you should see it as a journey and take it day by day. Every year I reflect on the previous one and decide if I want to put a coin in the machine for a new year.
Don't lock yourself into a certain style or technique, that way it never gets boring and you end up constantly surprising yourself. Sharing what you do also helps, my practice is very lonely but talking about it to people or just displaying it on social media helps overcome tough days. Being an artist and dealing with social media can be a bumpy ride but on certain (rare) occasions it can cheer you up.
What makes you happy?
That's a tricky one. During my corporate time there was this bullshit mantra saying "you are in the driving seat of your career". I hated hearing or reading this lie. And now that I am actually responsible for my successes and my failures I am much more happy. Being somewhat in control of my own life makes me happier I think.
What about your business makes you feel most proud? Biggest accomplishment?
I moved into a new studio earlier this year. I am proud of that. I struggled so much all of 2020, a real emotional rollercoaster on that topic. This new space is perfect. I feel very lucky, proud and relieved. Can't wait to start giving workshops in this space.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
Managing your own hours and being the only person accountable for the good and the bad things that might occur.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far?
I didn't study studio art or design and feel a bit like an impostor sometimes when I want to express something with a creation. I am learning to deal with this syndrome and am embracing the artistic side of the craft more and more.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
This question sends me back to the HR's office. I want to still do stuff with mud and be able to pay all my bills. That would be a success.
What are your most important essentials / accompanies you in everyday life and at work?
A comfortable pair of sneakers :)
Do you always know where your phone, keys and wallet are or do you lose track of them easily? How far away from you is your phone usually?
It's all in a fanny pack. That is actually another essential! I hate having stuff in my pockets. I am slightly addicted to checking my phone, so it's really close and so is the charger.
How good are you at not breaking your phone?
Since I started ceramic I have destroyed so many phones. A pottery studio is not a welcoming space for a smartphone. Between the mud, the dust, the water...It slips and falls all the time!
Any Stickers on your phone?
No. I do have a phone case now though. I think it's the first time that I bought one. I learned my lesson following the tragic loss of my previous phone. RIP.
> With a key this big, we can understand why you don't like putting things in your pockets. That's when our Key Lanyards can come in very handy ;)