Amy Victoria Marsh creates playful ceramics and illustrations with “a little bit of sass”
The Manchester-based creative tells us why her practice working with illustration and ceramics means there’s never a dull day in the studio.
- Ruby Boddington
- 10 February 2020
Growing up, Amy Victoria Marsh was one of those children who naturally enjoyed drawing and making. “I’d pass the time by doing things like turning a tiny camcorder cassette case into a fish tank,” she tells us. So after being introduced to illustration while on her foundation course, it seemed the “natural path” for her to take.
Based in Manchester, Amy’s work is, in her own words, “playful and often character-based; involving humour, positivity, colour and sometimes a little bit of sass,” elements that we certainly picked up on too. It spans more traditional illustration through comics, zines and identities but also reaches into the 3D world through a series of endearing ceramics. “I started to explore a more sculptural path when my dad bought me a saw for Christmas (when I was an adult…),” Amy recalls. “I love working with wood but it still didn’t satisfy the itch to bring my drawings to life, so I signed up for a ceramics class in north Manchester.”
It’s an interest which again seems to stem from her childhood as she was a “born collector” of small objects in particular. “I was madly into toys such as Polly Pocket and Sylvanian Families and loved looking at illustrated stamps,” she adds. “Looking back at my childhood it’s no wonder I’m making some of the work I am today!” As well as working on her own stuff from her studio in Engine House Studio, Amy teaches at Salford University and Sheffield Hallam University one day a week each.
While her works span several media, Amy’s style across them all is fairly succinct. She works with a select colour palette, keeps things minimal and “overall, fun and lighthearted.” Thematically, much of it is inspired by Japan, a country which has inspired Amy since she first visited in 2016. “From the typography found everywhere, to the personification of most objects, the Japanese have a unique take on design which I find hugely inspiring,” she adds.
GalleryAmy Victoria Marsh
One project in particular which demonstrates this is Amy’s Ceramic Gachapon Machine. The idea was to create her own version of a Japanese vending machine, originally for a solo show titled Ohayō at Siop Shop in 2017. “I bought the machine off eBay, my mom drove it up to me and I transformed it into what it looks like today!” Amy explains. “Gachapon are very popular all over Japan – 200 Yen will buy you a high-quality, pocket-sized toy which could be anything from a famous character to a dog in the shape of bread.” For her own Gachapon, therefore, it was important to maintain that high standard, playfulness and also utilise her self-taught Japanese.
Amy explains a little more about how the project exists today: “I love having complete control over this project – I do everything myself. When designing the pieces I aim to include more than five different designs to keep it interesting for people buying them. The machine holds just under 200 balls and so some of the designs in a series will be made 50+ times, whereas there may only be three of a rare design. Inside each ball, there is a Risograph-printed insert with all of the current collection illustrated on it. In true Japanese Gachapon spirit, my favourite type of piece to design is something interactive, like my onigiri ball with detachable prawn inside.” Since 2017, Amy has released three more collections, one in Magma and the most recent two in Fred Aldous Manchester and Leeds.
In recent times, Amy has also produced zines and self-published comics, one of which was titled What the F is Happening? and which took on the topic of losing motivation and being affected by depression. “Amazingly I drew it all when I was in the middle of feeling awful,” she says. “I’d like to pick up in the future and go into more depth with the subject.”
Ultimately, what keeps Amy interested in her chosen fields is the potential for constant learning. “I’ve been illustrating for seven years and making ceramics for five, yet every day I’m learning how to fine tune my practice and get better at what I do,” she reflects. “The very best thing about doing both is being able to draw a character and hold the three-dimensional ceramic version too. The contrast of working with different mediums keeps my practice exciting for me and means a day in the studio is never dull.”
GalleryAmy Victoria Marsh
Amy Victoria Marsh: Sushi Lady
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.