Lisa Larson is one of the world’s foremost ceramic sculptors, with her works residing in private collections and museums around the world for decades. Through the 1950s till the early ’80s, she was one of the most popular artists at the Gustavsberg’s porcelain factory, creating hundreds of designs of people and animals. Her designs have become world famous, particularly during the 1960s and ’70s. Still creating art today at 87 years old, I am thrilled that Lisa let me interview her about her lifelong career, inspirations, and advice for other artists. Read on below to discover the life of this fascinating artist!
TFS: Hello and thank you for letting me interview you, Lisa Larson! Would you please tell me a bit about your equine sculptures? How long have you been portraying horses in your work?
LL: I made horses quite early.
The first one that came into production was in the series Lilla Zoo 1955.
TFS: What has been your most successful equine art piece?
LL: I have made a very big mule, does that count? My daughter treated it like her own Shetland Pony and fed it and rode on it in the 1960’s.
TFS: Have you ever spent any time around horses or at horse events?
LL: Only watching my daughter at her riding camp in 1970.
TFS: What made you take an interest in horses and what gave you the idea to incorporate then in your work?
LL: The horse has always important and depicted by humans. I was often inspired by ancient folk art so had to try the subject matter too.
TFS: Would you tell me the story behind your latest piece, Lilla Gubben, the horse that belonged to Pippi Longstocking?
LL: Pippi is the creation by Astrid Lindgren and we always read the books about her to our children. She is a super strong girl and can even lift her own horse. 10 pieces are now available at Lisa Larson Shop on Shopify.
TFS: About how many equine designs have you created?
LL: There were only about 4 or 5 of my horses made by Gustavsberg, plus a zebra and a donkey. I may have made a few unique horses too. I donated one to the Shigaraki Ceramic Museum in Japan.
I was very lucky to have a lot of freedom to be creative while I was employed at Gustavsberg. Since then, I have been a freelance designer and artist so I am still free. The best part of my career is when I have undisturbed time to work with clay in my studio.
TFS: What has been the most difficult part of your career?
LL: It is hard to get time to make the things I still want to do.
TFS: Any advice for aspiring artists?
LL: Do your own thing. Don’t try and please the market!
TFS: What do you get inspiration from?
LL: Ancient art, folk art, people around me. Theatre and dance, going to the zoo. Even watching television.
TFS: If you had a chance do it all over again, would you still choose to be a ceramic artist?
Yes, absolutely. I came into it by chance and felt it was my medium from the very start.
TFS: Do you work in other mediums?
LL: I have designed some glassware, and some ideas for wood and bronze. Nowadays, I also make drawings that are used for printing on textiles and stationery and other products, in Sweden and in Japan.
TFS: What would you tell people who are interested in starting their own art collection? What should they look for in art?
LL: It should be a personal thing. Follow your heart!
TFS: You have delighted so many people around the world with all of your pieces-which is your favorite of all of your creations?
LL: That is impossible to say. You know I am rarely happy with the result. But sometimes I may look at them after several years and think: That one was not so bad… I am quite happy with my large bulldog, and the realistic cat Moses that is a portrait of our pet cat.
People think I make mostly animals, but in fact I have made many more human figures. My free sculptures are often people in subtly expressive or humourous poses, and I have also tried to capture some yoga poses.
Thank you for letting me interview you, Lisa! For more photos of Lisa’s work and information, check out her website.