Celebrated Belgian illustrator and ceramicist Aude Van Ryn creates handmade ceramic tableware, figurines and sculptures. She has developed a vibrant, abstract aesthetic, incorporating dots, lines and geometric shapes, alongside brightly coloured plants, flowers and birds. Aude Van Ryn moved to London aged 21 to study illustration at Central Saint Martins. She went on to study at the Royal College of Art and has been creating distinctive illustrations for publications such as The Guardian & The New Yorker.
Celebrated Belgian illustrator and ceramicist Aude Van Ryn creates handmade prints, tableware, figurines and sculptures. She has developed a vibrant, abstract aesthetic, incorporating dots, lines and geometric shapes, alongside brightly coloured plants, flowers and birds. Aude moved to London aged 21 to study illustration at Central Saint Martins. She went on to study at the Royal College of Art and has created distinctive illustrations for publications such as The Guardian and The New Yorker.
Aude Van Ryn enjoys shape making, drawing inspiration from Guidette Carbonnel, Pablo Picasso and Marimekko textiles. In 2007 she began exploring porcelain stoneware, using sgraffito techniques and her fingertips to create unique surface illustrations. Before turning her attention to ceramics, Aude worked as an illustrator for 20 years, and its her fondness for Dutch and Swiss graphic design – pared-down visuals with a strong sense of colour and composition – that has left a lasting imprint on her work as a ceramic artist.
1. What motivates you to make?
The motivation to create has been with me since I was a child. I am a visual person and aim to put into shapes/forms the stream of ideas coming to mind. Going through the motion of working on ideas, making sketches, constructing the form is a kind of release, and making, whether it is drawing or working in 3D, is what I do best.
2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?
I have many influences and inspirations, but to name just a few, I would mention mid-20th century artists such as Arp, Brancusi, Picasso and Calder. I also greatly admire ancient West African sculptures and artifacts. More recently I’ve been inspired by the work of Ruth Duckworth, Richard Deacon, Johannes Nagel, Natalie Du Pasquier and Nao Matsunaga.
There is a strong sense of play in my work, spontaneity and intuition are important factors. A keen eye for composition helps too. Working as an illustrator for 20 years, I had a fondness for Dutch and Swiss graphic design – pared-down visuals with a strong sense of colour and composition – this has left a lasting imprint on my work as a ceramic artist.
3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?
I see myself as an artist in the broad sense of the term. I came to work with clay after years working on paper, but I am also happy working with other mediums. With clay, technical skills are essential to achieve the desired form, textures or colours.
I started ceramics in 2013 with little knowledge and learned by myself for a few years. A couple of years later, I decided to do a diploma course in ceramics at CityLit. This made a significant difference and put me on a new path with my work.
My work is mainly decorative and I primarily use terracotta for its richness of colour, both glazed and unglazed. Shapes are created using various tools or an extruder; these thick and thin slabs are then stored in large boxes ready for use, and as soon as the pieces are leather-hard, I can start to compose. I use drawings for inspiration, but often find the sculpture comes to life in an intuitive and spontaneous way. Once constructed, coloured slips (liquid clay) or underglaze can be applied to part of the sculpture before it is bisque fired at 1000 C. Glazing is an integral part of the process and often has to be considered from the start.
4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?.
The achievement so far has been to see pieces leave the studio and not come back. It’s wonderful to see my work selling well. A handful of larger sculptures left for the US last year, and some to France too. Things are starting to open up so I feel positive.
5. What is your dream project?
Selling the sculptures further afield would be great. I would also love to work on a site specific set of larger sculptures and have access to a bigger kiln on a regular basis.
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