Meet The Maker: Tantri Mustika Ceramics


Tantri Mustika is a Melbourne based ceramicist who makes a range of light-hearted and colourful hand-built ceramics. Her current collection of work incorporates a modern spin on traditional terrazzo tiling, applying it to bespoke functional forms making terrazzo adaptable to everyday life.

Tantri is currently creating works in small batches; each piece finishes with no pair identical and unique in patterning and colour due to the techniques and processes.

We spoke to Tantri, who recently opened up her first store in the new Collingwood Yards arts precinct.

Tantri, we've been big fans of your work for a few years now, and you've come a long way! Could you tell us more about your story and how you got to where you are now?

I started ceramics as a hobby, and it became a quick obsession! At the time, I worked as a hairdresser and had been for a long time and just needed a new creative outlet. I quickly started cutting down my working hours to invest more time into making ceramics, and eventually, I made ceramics more than I cut hair. I had made a collection of pieces that I was really happy with and decided to make a website and see if I could sell a few, little did I know that anyone would even want to buy them.

Suddenly the pieces were selling, and I started getting wholesale enquiries quicker than I could make the work! I made a bold decision and left hairdressing job and without any real plans just dove straight into the deep end! It is now my full-time job three years on, and it's sure been hard work, but I love it!

image-asset (1).jpeg

Image supplied by Tantri Mustika

2020 was a turbulent year for many small business owners, but it didn't stop you. You recently opened up your first shop in the Collingwood Yards precinct - can you tell us more about the space and what challenges you've overcome to get there?

2020 left me pretty breathless- I know I'm not the only one! I had begun the process of moving into my new space at the very start of the year with no idea of what was going to unfold and I guess because I had made such a big, bold move for my very young business, I had to commit to it and make it work no matter what. I think the excitement of the opportunity has kept me going and pushing forward through all of the uncertainty. I've been fortunate to have the incredible support of my close family and friends, words of wisdom and encouragement have been so essential through all of this! I am lucky to have that. My new space is part of the exciting new Collingwood yards (previously known as the Collingwood Arts Precinct). Collingwood yards is a creative community hub made up of small to medium creative businesses, organisations and practising artists. My space will evolve, but I intend to hold classes and workshops in my studio too. I want the space to be warm, inviting and inspiring, and I think that having the studio combined with the retail space gives visitors a first-hand glimpse into the making process.

Just as I was getting right into the fit-out of the new space, COVID hit, and of course, lots of things fell away. Ongoing and upcoming projects suddenly cancelled - which was scary because my plans suddenly seemed almost impossible. Still, I managed to shift things to try to keep up with our ever-changing circumstances. In that time, I finished setting up the studio and completed the shop fit-out in a very DIY manner. The shop was open for a month before the second wave hit, which was a little sad, but I worked hard in the studio to make more works, explore new ideas, and come up with exciting workshop ideas!

How would you define the style of your work, and how did it develop?

I would say my style is colourful and fun. It's most recognised by my terrazzo inspired decoration that has developed and refined as my skills have broadened. It's now an exploration of different combinations of textures and colours combined with a range of various forms.


Image supplied by Tantri Mustika

Do you have a dream project that you would love to realise someday?

I'd love to do a large body of work for a solo show someday, but I would also love to team up with a tiling manufacturer and do a large scale tiling project! Or even a small-scale tiling project for a cool home!

Are there any other local makers whose work you're excited about?

Ahhh hard question because there are so many great Melbourne based small businesses and makers, here are a few off the top of my head:

Where do you draw your inspiration?

I love mid-century design. I love a good chunk of marble, and I'm always keeping my eye out for colourways that catch my eye (mostly in very mundane and everyday things ha! You can often catch me taking photos of very ordinary things clustered together whilst I exclaim "Look! Good colour combo!!" Colour palette is a big part of my work. I look at the fine intricate details in nature and try to think about how I can create small subtleties in my pieces that naturally occur in the world around us. I look to other interior spaces and try to imagine making pieces that could fit that space. I also think about the things that I would want to have in my own home, and that often leads to a new design ( perhaps sometimes it's partly a bit of a selfish approach to design as I'm just making things that I want to have in my own home- and hoping that others want the same things that I would like!)

missa shoot.jpg

Image supplied by Tantri Mustika

How did your creative practices change during COVID?

Things have changed slightly; I have more time for custom/commission works which I have enjoyed. There has also been more time for creative exploration and research, which has been a nice breath of fresh air! I found myself making things that I've been thinking of for a while but previously haven't had time for.

Best advice you've ever received?

Don't get a credit card.

Tips for anyone trying to commercialise their art and turn it into a small business?

Be prepared to work hard and believe in yourself! When you're beginning put yourself out there and say yes to any opportunities that come up even if they seem small on face value- you never know what it could lead to down the track!

What professional achievements are you most proud of?

Opening my very own little shop! Dreams do come true!


Image supplied by Tantri Mustika

From your perspective, why is it so important to support local?

In a world where so many things we are surrounded by are mass-produced and manufactured in huge quantities in such a disposable manner, it's really important to support local.

One of the big things is the reduced environmental footprint that small businesses place on our planet. Small companies have more control of all decisions made in creating a product. Small production or handmade product-based business owners can realistically and sustainably make better decisions for how things are created and often can oversee this from start to finish.

Many small businesses, artists and makers are single-person businesses or made up of skeleton staff, and by choosing to buy local, you are spending your money on things that have often been slowly made with care and love. Items made with care and love usually

outlast something made with the bare minimum effort and cost; there's no better quality control than a hands-on approach to creating.

When you purchase something from a small business it's most often a very personal exchange, for instance when somebody buys my vases, I am the happiest when I have been able to meet the person and chat to them and get to know them a little. Knowing that something I have spent hours dreaming up and making is going to a loving home is the most joyful thing. Knowing that I have created something that has made somebody happy makes all of the extra work and thought worth it!

I think that personal exchange level is something you can only get from a small local business and knowing that you may very well have made the day, week or even month of one person by purchasing something from them. Instead of making a purchase that won't even go noticed from a huge anonymous business is 100% a great reason to shop local where you can!


Image supplied by Tantri Mustika

How did you stay connected in the local design/art space, especially during isolation?

Social media is a great tool to stay connected with what everyone is up to, whether just having a look or having conversational exchanges with others. Chatting to other people in similar situations and checking in on one another made the stress of isolation or business struggles feel a little lighter for everyone.

That sense of solidarity and knowing we are in it together. I found it a bit difficult to stay connected at times, but the small interactions that I managed to keep up with people during that time meant a lot.

These tough times seem to bring out kindness in most people. The sense of togetherness is a silver lining to the situation, and I think we came out the other end with new ideas of what our community means to us.

Visit Tantri in her new store in the Collingwood Yards precinct at Unit 4/30A Perry Street, Collingwood or shop online.

The Latest