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Life & Work with Shiori Takemori

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shiori Takemori.

Hi Shiori, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I’m born and raised in LA, with a background in business. When asked what job I would want if money didn’t matter, my answer was always “pottery artist.”

After getting laid off from a corporate job last year, I applied for a membership at a BIPOC-focused pottery studio and started bringing silly ideas to life with clay. Some of my first pieces included a Shrek incense diffuser, a toast rack shaped like toast, and a Barbie purse. While I figured out my next steps, I improved my skills, continued to create, and found my community of queer, BIPOC artists.

It was around this time that I started to integrate my identity and perspective into my work. In our culture, fem bodies are often seen through the male gaze and either sexualized, attacked, or hidden from view. It’s important to me to reclaim the feminine form and bring my own playful and light twist to the conversation… so I started making boob vases and cheeky mugs!

As word got out about my pottery, I started to receive commission requests from both friends and strangers. For the first time in my life, I got paid for my art. It was extremely validating and intoxicating, so I asked myself “what would happen if I kept pursuing joy?” This encouraged me to start my small business.

Social media plays a big part in my journey— a lot of good timing (and background in marketing) has led me to where I am today. My first in-person event was in May at Party Art Community, where the organizer found me through a mutual friend’s story on IG! My life hasn’t been the same since.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I feel grateful that I’ve been on an upward trajectory since starting my business this spring. Only a few months after making my artwork public, I was invited to table at a MOCA event, successfully kicking off my summer of markets!

But of course, there have been quite a few bumps along the way. Running your own pottery business is a big change from a corporate desk job, and being my own boss has pushed me to experience both new kinds of anxiety and fulfillment. On top of throwing, decorating, and glazing, I need to handle photography, location scouting, content creation, bookkeeping, shipping, R&D, pricing, graphic design, and whatever else is thrown my way. It’s overwhelming but I keep reminding myself that now is the time to work extra hard to create a foundation for my new career!

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a ceramic artist and the colorful mind behind Poppu Siren. My specialty is whimsical pottery that is unapologetically queer, feminist, and Asian American. I am known for my cute, cheeky mugs that often feature a four-letter word that rhymes with punt! This word can be used to undermine strong fem-presenting people but can also be used as high praise in the queer community. There is power in ownership of the word and embracing both the strength and softness behind it.

I feel most proud of myself when I get to see my pieces in their new homes! The way it warms my heart and floods my brain with serotonin will never get old.

What sets me apart from others is my colorfully eye-catching aesthetic with bold messaging. I strive to provide ethically created items that my community deserves, including gyoza magnets representing various pride flags, pronoun pins shaped like cookies and rice balls, and c-word mugs for all budgets.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
Absolutely! My major risk was deciding to pursue pottery full-time and starting my own business. For the first time, I found myself in a privileged position of not having any obligations and having enough money saved to stay afloat for a while. It was truly up to me what I wanted to do, allowing me to ask myself once again, what would I do if money didn’t matter? And that question brought me right back to clay. It’s worth taking the risk so you never have to look back and wonder what could have been.

I’m betting on myself and all the unknown possibilities — it’s gonna be a wild ride and I hope y’all join me!

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Poppu Siren

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