Creative Makers: Alina Tang, ceramicist and founder of Pansy
Located in Amsterdam, Pansy is a shop, studio and workshop space run by illustrator and ceramicist Alina Tang.
The pastel-coloured store and workshop hub sits on a street next to a number of creative businesses which all aim to lift spirits with the goods they sell. For Alina Tang of Pansy , it is all about making and selling “cute things for nice people”.
Earlier this year we invited Alina to join us as an industry speaker on our brand new Illustrated Merchandise: Making & Selling for Illustrators Course where she joined us for an exclusive Zoom Q&A, sharing the story of building her brand, how she got started on her creative career; the inspiration behind her products and a few key words of advice for those just starting out.
As we prepare to relaunch the course later this month, we’ve pulled together some of the best bits from the session!
Pansy is a illustration-led business which takes inspiration from the ntural world, particularly flowers. Speaking of floral art’s universal appeal, Alina says “As humans we have this botanical instinct. Whenever I am making work, I always circle back to flowers and plants. It comes from a deep, personal curiosity.”
This sense of wonder has played a key role in helping Alina build a brand – and physical store – which draws you in.
Upstairs, there is a shop filled with handpicked and thoughtfully designed items created by an ever-growing collective of independent makers from around the world, as well as lots of Alina’s own colourful creations. Her workshops are hosted downstairs in a dedicated space where there is the opportunity to make some joyful creations of your own.
When she first started out, it was the creative community in Perth, Australia – where Alina is originally from – who helped her fall in love with illustrated ceramics. After ceramics were taken out of the curriculum at her art school, she instead had to rely on “conversational learning” through her local ceramic artists and studios to build her skillset and knowledge. Alina found her creative calling and helped to run a ceramics studio in Perth before deciding to jet off on a European adventure.
Once settled in Amsterdam, getting to know the right people meant that Alina’s dream of having a physical Pansy store became a reality much sooner than expected. She got the keys to the space on the 1st of March 2020 and began eagerly painting and preparing to open the space. Two weeks later however, Amsterdam went into lockdown and Alina was forced to move her business online.
“I have a physical space for a good reason – I loved welcoming people in, meeting them and having face-to-face contact.” Alina says “I really resisted going online because I didn’t want to just own a webshop, I wanted to have a physical presence in this city”.
As the Netherlands slipped in and out of lockdown over the past year, Alina pushed past her initial
hesitation and began selling products online including her Pansy Packs which allow customers to embrace their inner creative from the comfort of their home. With the world opening back up once more, Alina has all sorts of big plans including hosting their very own Tiny Festival centred around creating miniature artworks and objects.
Alina has a clear vision of how she wants Pansy to grow in future. Having a personal and engaging online presence is most definitely part of the plan as platforms like Instagram allow Alina as it allows her to foster the same sense of community she has with local local creatives with an limitless online audience. “A really big and important part of what I do is being able to show more than just the final pretty thing at the end” she explains “Being able to understand the process makes people fall in love with your work and maybe a bit of you too.”
Illustrated Merchandise: Making & Selling for Illustrators returns 22nd September 2021 – 27th October 2021 and enrolment is now open! More information on the course content, new guest speakers and how to sign up can be found here.
Interested to hear more? Check out our IGTV interview with Alina Tang on Instagram.