Trudy Crane’s art is a runaway hit. Her work — all-white tableware featured on lookslikewhite.com — is simplicity itself. It’s a style that reflects the ceramic artist’s dedication to a life filled with beauty, meaning, and purpose.
Her debut book, Seasons: The Vegan Table, expands on that theme. The artist collaborated with her daughter — photographer Chloé Crane-Leroux — and chef Julie Zyromski. Together they found inspiration in celebrating the art of the table, and in vegan recipes with simple, seasonal ingredients.
From her studio in Old Montreal, Crane took time to chat with us…
Q: How do you describe your style?
A: I’ve always been influenced by Scandinavian style. There’s a lovely simplicity to everything. Stockholm. Copenhagen. Their esthetic is so simple — everything has purpose. I’m very attracted by that. In dishware it allows the beauty of the food to shine — the food becomes the star.
Q: Why white?
A: I’ve always loved white. My home is very white, very clean. I think, as I grow older, I am attracted to the notion that less is more—having less in my life. What I do have has meaning. Over time it’s just who I’ve become. I find white, generally, to be very peaceful, very calming.
Q: Have you ever worked with colour?
A: I’ve tried using other neutral tones in my work. When I was starting my ceramics I did try colour — bright blues and so on — but I found it less esthetically pleasing.
Q: Yet your ceramics are so interesting. How do you create beauty using just one colour?
A: I use a lot of texture in my home and in my dishes. In décor, texture can come from things like wood and brick. In ceramics I use fabric to create depth in my dishes. I also mix tones of white: matte white, bright white, very shiny white.
Q: How do you use fabric?
A: I hand-make my ceramics — I don’t use a wheel. I roll out my pieces on a slab with a roller, then I take different fabrics from old French linens — beautiful linens — and imprint them onto the dishes. I didn’t learn the technique anywhere, I just started doing it!
Q: Your background is in retail marketing (Penningtons, Yves Rocher), how did you reinvent yourself as a successful ceramic artist?
A: I had a collection in my head. I’d been in retail marketing for 30-plus years. I was turning 50 and ready to make a change! I really wanted to do the collection, and I wanted to do something more meaningful. I developed the website (lookslikewhite.com) and started blogging. It didn’t take long before the ceramics started selling.
Q: And your book, Seasons: The Vegan Table?
A: About two years ago I had an idea for a book. I approached my daughter, Chloé, a food photographer — we have a wonderful relationship. We started working with Julie, a chef in Montreal, creating a vegan cookbook for everyone — a lifestyle cookbook done by season. We wanted the recipes to be simple, using fresh, local ingredients. Everything in it is delicious and easy — food that’s totally accessible to someone who is not necessarily vegan.
Q: Your life sounds inspiring…
A: [Laughs] I have had a lot of people ask me about my journey. I was a guest on a TV show here in Quebec and had an enormous number of women email me afterwards. They wanted to talk. They called me, came to my studio. People really do want to make a change; they want to do things that are important to them in life.
Q: What was your advice?
A: I encouraged them to do what has the most meaning … and I encouraged them not be afraid. It’s intimidating to make a change — people really do need encouragement.
Q: What do you love best about your work, now that you’ve made your own changes?
A: My work is more than just work for me. It has so much meaning, so much passion. It is my life. I love it!
Editor’s Note: Original interview by Lori Knowles appeared in CHIC Magazine. Photos: @LooksLikeWhite