Barcelona-based ceramic artist Nonna Melikyan has long been in love with art, but only recently confessed this love to ceramics. She grew up in a family of artists and sculptors on one side, and engineers on the other. However, she always knew that she leaned more towards the creative side.
Tell us about yourself: where are you from and how did you end up in Barcelona?
I’m Nonna Melikyan, originally from Armenia, Yerevan. After graduating with my degree in Linguistics and Cross-Cultural Communication, I decided to move to Barcelona for continuing my studies but this time in a business environment. And as many of us, I fell in love with Barcelona, and here I am after 4 years.
What brought you to start your own brand and live from your passion? Did you have to leave anything behind in order to do so?
I never planned to do anything like this, for me it happened in a really natural way which makes me feel lucky. At the moment I dedicate most of my time to The Clay Cloud but still, I work in an art studio some nights of the week. I’m fully immersed in art life I would say (dream life). Ceramics didn’t take anything from me, instead, it opened the world to me, and gave me so many things, it’s a life teacher. Ceramics teaches you to take lots of decisions, every single step is a decision (choosing a design, a glaze, a technique…) it teaches me to be more patient with life and take risks, and don’t get disappointed. Many times you have a plan in your mind, you follow all the steps but the result is soooo far from what you expected. This is the magic.
You say that you come from a family of artists and engineers. How did you find your way to exploring your creativity through ceramic?
Since I was a child I liked making things with my hands. I would play with the jewellery my mom had, deconstruct them then make something different out of them. I was making dream jars, jewellery organizers (all sort of stuff) and giving them to my friends as a present. Even though, I had never played with clay before moving to Spain.
I moved here and I saw so many opportunities to explore yourself, to see what you really like or no. And one of the first things that came to my mind was a ceramic course. I took the course and from the very first moment, I was in love. In the group, we were 4 and everyone felt the clay differently. There were people so impatient with the process, people, who wanted only to see the results. For me, the important part of ceramics is the process. I can stay with the same piece for hours and still enjoy it. After the course, when we entered into the quarantine, I ordered some clay and some tools and started playing with them at home.
People who know me, know that I am not so expressive, I don’t really communicate with words. So I needed something intermediate and that something is the clay, the ceramics.
Do you think there should be a difference between art and “artesanía” (=crafts)? Which one do you do?
For me, art is a means to transmit feelings to others. The Clay Cloud is a mix of art and “artesanía”. I don’t only make plates or spoons as functional objects, but I want people to feel the emotions when they hold or use my ceramics. It’s not the same using a normal spoon or a Clay Cloud spoon.
Tell us more about your brand. You say that The Clay Cloud was born from your love for clouds: are the clouds your main source of inspiration? How do you turn something so soft and ungraspable into a concrete solid object?
I love clouds. Because they can be whatever you imagine. So free. Perfect listeners. When you look at the clouds, you see whatever you want to see, same with my pieces, everyone sees them differently even though it’s the same spoon. My objective is people holding or using my pieces to feel like they are touching a piece of the clouds
Tell us more about your process: You describe your work as a meditative process and say that you almost talk to the clay.
Ceramics is a super slow art. It takes time to have a single piece ready. If you rush a bit, probably you will end up having lots of disasters. It requires lots of patience.
I feel at my best when I start working with clay. It’s a perfect communicator for me. I am sure that my final ceramic pieces transmit the calm vibes that I give to the clay during the process.
Would you have any advice for the Venusianas out there that are still hesitating to realise their dream?
Probably the best advice would be not to procrastinate things. You like doing something, then do it. At least try doing it. Things done with love, pay off for sure!