How to Live Like an Artist, According to Ceramicist Helen Levi (Hint: You’re Gonna Need Snacks)

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Helen Levi)

If you fantasize about trading in your cubicle for a former-warehouse artist’s studio flooded with light, filled with plants, where snacks flow freely—then you’ll probably think Brooklyn-based ceramicist Helen Levi‘s life is pretty dreamy. We asked Helen to walk us through her daily routine and tell us about her beautiful studio. It didn’t disappoint.

Don’t think you’ll get to live that artist life? Just follow Helen’s gorgeous Instagram account to live vicariously.

AT: Early bird or night owl?

HL: Hmm, neither. Afternoon owl, is that a thing? I typically get to the studio around 10:30 am. I’d say my natural body clock wakes me up around 8 or 8:30 am, but I always set an alarm. My dog Billy likes to sleep in, so he’s definitely not waking me up. [Billy is the adorable cattle dog with white and brown spots below!]

(Image credit: Helen Levi)

AT: What’s your morning routine like? Breakfast: yay or nay?

HL: I have to have a big cup of tea—no coffee for me. I like strong black tea with milk and honey. I always heat up the milk first, otherwise it gets cold really fast. Sometimes I wait and have yogurt and stuff at the studio, but I always eat breakfast.

AT: Do you have a work uniform?

HL: I wear overalls [evidence, above], or I have two designated pairs of work pants. My work is so messy, I try to keep two separate wardrobes for work and my personal life. I used to mix more, but then I started to feel schlubby.

(Image credit: Helen Levi)

AT: How do you ease into the workday? What tasks do you like to start with?

HL: I typically wait to throw in the afternoon. A lot of people think I just sit at the wheel for 10 hours a day, but there are a lot of other steps. In the morning, I typically put handles on the pieces I threw the day before, or write emails, or do some glazing.

AT: And what’s for lunch?

HL: Fairway salads! They have this salad bar that’s so cheap, there’s no way they’re making any money off of it.

(Image credit: Helen Levi)

AT: You mentioned that you have your own studio now—how do you like it?

HL: I used to share space with Chen Chen and Kai Williams for two years and loved it, but I moved out into my own space in March. It’s pretty dreamy! I miss having lunch with them; we work with different mediums, but they’ve given me so much advice about running a small business. In the old studio, I had to do one task at a time, now I can have stations and I don’t have to clean up after myself—I’m pretty messy when I work.

AT: What about studio snacks?

HL: I’m very snacky! Pretzels, cheese and crackers (I have a little fridge at the studio), and peanut chews. I bought a big 11-pound bag of peanut chews on Amazon. Everyone who comes in the studio gets one, and because it’s peanuts, I feel like it’s healthy—it’s protein, right?

(Image credit: Helen Levi)

AT: What do you like to decorate with, besides your own beautiful ceramics, of course?

HL: Tons of plants! I’m very into having potted plants around. I also hung up cafe lights in the studio, which makes the space feel warmer, especially as it’s been getting darker earlier, it’s nice to have that glow.

(Image credit: Helen Levi)

AT: Where do you go for inspiration?

HL: I love going to the beach any time of year, especially in the winter when no one’s there. I used to think it was because of the dog. I would probably never come to the beach in the morning before work if I didn’t have a dog. I didn’t immediately see it as inspiration, but then I realized that the landscape was influencing my work.

(Image credit: Helen Levi)

Thanks, Helen! Shop her gorgeous ceramic pieces here.