If you have ever visited any of our San Francisco stores in person you probably had the incredible luck of meeting the brightest, purest light there is in the form of a crazy bubbly, beautiful Australian woman. Her name is Britt Maton, and her latest project is Nin Studio.
I met Britt at the store, way before she decided to move to San Francisco from Melbourne. We clicked the second we started talking, so when she came back to visit and told me she was looking to move here I had to ask her if she wanted to be part of this Voyager family of ours. She was too good, too full of life and too amazing to be true! Years passed and we have grown to be close friends, sisters almost. I have seen her grow as human being and as an artist, and I couldn't be more proud of her, more excited for her future, and more in love with her persona. She is magic.
Her latest project is Nin Studio is straight from the bottom of her heart. This collection of prints, ceramics, wall hanging, jewelry and leather goods is all we ever dreamed about.
I am obsessed with her so I asked some questions in light of her pop up at the shops so you could be obsessed with her to...you are welcome.
Marta: Hi Britt, mi amor! I am so excited to finally have a Nin Studio pop up at the shop, and to get people to know a little bit more about the project and how incredible you are! Let's start from the beginning, how did Nin Studio come to life?
Britt Maton: It was definitely a collection of moments that came together to bring the project to life! After I finished a Business degree back home in Australia, I moved to San Francisco. It was definitely here I let the process of creating and trusting my need to create open up the project. There has been so many people that have helped me reach my own language in the mediums I work in, I am so grateful for each interaction that encouraged me to keep going.
My connection to ceramics started to grow when I realised how I can join working with my hands and also the mind within one medium. When I go into the studio it is like entering an entirely different universe. There is everything there… body, mind, soul and being a communal studio also comradeship.
The leather work came after interning with the designer Laura Schoorl, it inspired me to use natural materials like hide and suede. I am drawn to odd and organic shapes, I can see now that my need to make pouches comes from being a bag lady and wanting to put things in compartments. I love organised chaos!
The art is the most primary aspect to me, this is where I open to the most vulnerable parts in myself. All of it is a self portrait of some sort, a self portrait to my mind, body and soul. I love when someone understands it because they are understanding that part in me and perhaps something within themselves.
I decided to call the project Nin on a trip I took with my friend Bela to Mexico, she actually suggested to call the project Nin because it is what my family calls me. It brings me joy and a great sense of belonging… these are the qualities I want to invoke in others through the project. It is also the last name of my favorite author, Anais Nin.
M: It is so important and meaningful when artists and makers pour themselves in the work! It even feels like you are taking a piece of them when you buy or look at their art or their pieces. It is what makes it all worth it and what makes what we do so special. It's such a reflection of your life and where you are at each moment that when looking back at your creations it ends up being kind of a personal diary of the difference stages of your life and the different moments you live. It is beautiful!
Was working with your hands and expressing yourself through art something you always knew you wanted to do, or that you always felt the need to do?
B: I did not know this was what I wanted to do… when I was younger I wanted to be an actress for a long time! I was in my day dreams A LOT so I naturally found ways to express them. For some time I did want to be a writer, that was definitely a stepping stone to understanding my creativity as I do today. Everything has had a purpose and a place.
M: Wow an actress! it is so funny because I can completely imagine you being an incredible performer!
I just love how organic everything you do feels, and how smooth and intuitive the transitions between one form of art to the other happened in your work. It all is you, but expressed with a different medium, something so hard to do and you make it look so simple!
I am always super curious about how the process of creating something inside the artist's mind, for you how does it all start? Is it more of something you see and inspires you to create something, or is it a material or is it more something that happens naturally when you sit down in front of a paper, your sewing machine or clay that it all starts slowly taking shape?
B: It is a little bit of both of these things, the first is the inspiration and then this starts to inform the process and development. The inspiration is usually something I felt or experienced that then unravels into a themes of thoughts, visions and ideas based around that essence. I work very organically and know I have something precious when there is that “ah ha” moment, I get a crazy look in my eyes and I know I have something to work from!
A general guideline for me is the saying “first thought right thought”. Clarissa Estes writes this in one of her books referring to the intuition. I try to follow my instincts and let that move the idea and creative process forward.
My favorite ceramic and leather creations come when I give myself the freedom to let the piece be what it wants to be. This is a great way to create, it is the wabi-sabi way. For example, the other day I wanted to make a piece of clay smooth and clean but it kept bending in strange places. SO I started to squish it in all different directions and then it became something completely different. Moments later my friend Chris saw it and said I LOVE THAT!! I think there is such freedom for the mind to create like this. It is a place where restriction from premature judgment is kept at bay and the inner child can come out.
M: I can relate to that so much, and to me it is part of the beauty of it and the freedom of creating something from scratch. You always have something in your mind when you start but then the piece itself will take you on its own journey and will end up being whatever it was supposed to be, no matter what idea you had first. If you let yourself surrender to it then that is when the magic happens!
I love that that is such a big part of what Nin Studio is, and that is because it is an enormous part of who you are. There is nothing that makes me more excited than when people create from their souls. How else would you describe Nin? What are the fundaments of it, what makes it be what it is?
B: In a few words… Organic, Collaborative, Sustainable, Innovative and Soulful!
The fundamentals of the brand is that it is *sustainable* to the planet and others, I love working with scraps and re-purposed materials.
It is important that the project is *authentic and human,* I think this is the most inspiring way to be. It’s important for it to be *collaborative* so that it interconnects with others on a similar path and with shared values.
I think the motivation lives on its own for now, it is an unquenchable feeling to continue exploring and learning and discovering. I now feel the reward of sharing the art, and seeing that it can inspire something in others, whether it is be a feeling, thought or action. To invoke something in yourself is one thing but seeing others connect within themselves is another! This is how the Voyager store communicates with people!! It’s so special
M: Authentic and human, sigh, the world surely needs a lot more of that!
It is so incredible to see too, how even though you haven't been working in Nin for so long you already have done so many amazing collaborations with Bay Area artists, from candle makers to incredible Textile Designers like Cristina Moreno (come by the pop up to see the beautiful scarves Cristina & Britt made for the occasion, they are stunning!) and each and every single one of them is a perfect combination between them and you as artists. You can tell both parties have been working freely and in tune, it is so inspiring to see!
Well, we know by now how much we love you and how much we love and admire Nin Studio here at Voyager, but how did you chose us to be the first place to sell your creations and to host this month long pop up at both the LA & SF shops?
B: I have been lucky enough to have worked at the stores for the past 3 years. If I talk about the Voyager and the community I might explode of love and gratitude but I will try.
The store is an absolute treasure chest of pieces, people and energy. Each piece is full of life everything there lives in its own beauty. Voyager, I think has played the biggest role in my belief in myself as an artist and my faith that there are humans full of curiosity and goodness. It is a place of intuition, the soul… it is like instinctual shopping haha! Everything has meaning and purpose there, it is a beautiful bridge between those giving from their soul and those receiving from it.
M: Aww and you are the perfect example of what we try to do at the shops, as we always say, you guys are the heart and soul of the stores, we would be nothing without you. You complete our vision, you embody the community we wanted to be part of and we couldn't think of anybody to help us be that bridge, and to now allow us to be the bridge between your own soul and creations and our customers.
To wrap it up I always like to ask the dreaded question of where you see yourself in the future or what you would want for yourself and Nin Studio in let's say 10 years.
SO much can happen in 10 years
, wow! The dream would be to have Nin Studio as an integrated creative & healing project. With one aspect being a platform for tangible and soulful pieces that myself and others create using both new and primordial techniques. The other platform would be a space to practice art therapy and yoga/meditation . Sort of a creative hub and facility for individuals to decompress, collaborate within themselves and/or with others.
This type of project would need more hands and minds than just mine to bring it to life. I think there is a great need for accessible safe spaces where healing can come from connecting within ourselves and with others. It’s time for the creative and spiritual culture in ourselves to come forth and influence our connections in a positive and human way, with the earth and with each other.
Those connections, exactly those connections should be what we all aim for, what actually keeps the world turning. And it is thanks to bright souls like yours Britt and inspiring projects like Nin Studio that the world is still a place of light and community, even if it is hard to see that sometimes.
We love you Britt, and we cannot wait for the pop ups to be set up and for everybody to get to know and enjoy Nin Studio as much as we do!
This Saturday 6/23 Britt will be at the LA Shop for the opening of her pop up and next Friday 6/29 we will be having the opening party at our SF shop, come by meet this incredible woman and be blown away by her soulful creations!
All pictures courtesy of Nin Studio