Maker: Heather from Happy Los Angeles

While I was at Craftcation last month I got to participate in a workshop creating a terrarium.  We learned the type of soil to use, how to layer it, and how to *hopefully* keep the succulents alive as we traveled home.  I’m happy to say, that of the three plants I put in, two are doing very nicely.  One is very sad…and losing leaves quickly….

When I came home I looked around my house for other containers to plant some more succulents into.  I don’t have a green thumb {at all} but I do love to  have plants around, and if they are strong, they tend to survive.  Heather’s hanging planter has caught my eye, and I keep looking around my house for something similar.  (Which I don’t have, but sometimes necessity is the mother of invention right?) I really like Heather’s ceramic style.  I enjoyed her story, and seeing the pieces that she has created.  Meet Heather!


Please introduce yourself.  

I’m Heather Arndt, I was born and raised here in Los Angeles. I’ve lived up and down the coast of San Diego and then moved back to LA about 10 years ago. I moved to Sand Diego to go to SDSU to study art, during this time I began designing footwear for skate and surf companies such as DC, Hurley and Vans. In love with design and travel, I spent 15 years creating footwear and accessories for many of California’s skate and surf brands. In that time I also expanded my love of art making and earned my Master’s in Fine Art from Claremont Graduate University. In 2008, I opened a gallery and home decor boutique named “happy” in the community of Los Feliz. Through this, I met a community of artists and designers from Southern California and beyond. In 2011, I decided to close the shop and focus back on what made me most happy, and that is making ceramics.

What do you make or do?

I have a ceramics line called Happy Los Angeles. I make home décor items, I often use altered vintage molds from the 1950’s and 60’s and some molds I’ve developed myself. I combine these to create new unique items sometimes using reclaimed wood, and other materials.  My work has been mostly sort of a modern contemporary style, but I find recently it’s morphing to a more colorful and bohemian vibe. Stay tuned, lots of new items in the works!

Where can we find your creations?

I sell online at and

Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business? How did the name come about?

I decided to on the name “happy” when I sat down to really think about the end goal, and the choices I make, I found that what I’m really looking for is to be happy. I try to base my decisions daily on this, like will taking this project on make my life happier, am I excited about it? It helps keep me on track.

How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?

Creating my work is my full-time job. I’ve been working on “happy” as a home decor line since 2011. In addition, I also take custom orders, for example I just finished creating sake’ carafes and cups for a new restaurant in San Francisco called “Pink Zebra” (super yummy! Go check it out in the mission district.) Prior to 2011, I owned the boutique and gallery named “happy” that I had opened in 2008. In the end I found I am much happier making and creating than I am running a store. If I could find a way to do both, I would! I loved the store, but there was never enough time for both.

When you’re not making things, what do you do?

I hike as often as possible in Griffith Park, it a great way to start the day, out in nature and fresh air. I spend a lot of time reading and researching. I love learning new ways to work with clay or new materials to incorporate into my work.

Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?

It is a necessity, for sure. My mind is one that is constantly running. I’m always thinking about work, other people’s work, my own, what’s next, how can I apply new ideas, etc.

What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?

I think one of the biggest struggles I had to overcome was separating my life as a product designer working at a big company which meant designing for a set audience from my true authentic craft. I spent so much time listening to sales teams on marketing and trend reports, and all that, that I think I slowly forgot about my voice. It’s been a long road getting back to what is authentic to me, and not just what will the customer want. That is important too, I mean we all have to make money, but I find authenticity is the key. And it can be hard to untangle. I’m still working at that.

Where do you find inspiration?

Travel is my number one source of inspiration. I try to get out of the studio and whether it’s a day trip to the desert or a big trip to India, getting out and seeing the world brings me the most inspiration.

What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?

After I finished the custom order for Pink Zebra I decided to take a step back and re-assess.  I’ve spent the last several months learning a bunch of new graphic glaze application processes, and also some new wood working techniques. I’ve been sketching and art journaling and finding a fresh perspective. It’s all leading to a totally new direction in my work. I’m excited to hash it all out and see where it goes.

If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?

I would have a better bigger studio.  And travel more.

What would be your perfect day off?

A hike in the hills or a day swimming at the beach with my husband and daughter, and our dogs. Follow that with a great meal and a solid night’s sleep and I’m golden.

What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?

Just keep going. It’s easy to stop, doubt yourself, and let yourself be distracted.  It’s hard to stay the course and make it happen. So I guess, keep at it and stay true to what you want to make. And really it comes down to these: work hard, be kind to people, don’t take rejection personally, and never stop learning.

Who are the makers that inspire you?

Makers who inspire me…there are many! The ones that come to mind today are:

Ariele Alasko, she’s an amazing woodworker in Brooklyn.

Jason Bige Burnett, his surface design skills in ceramics are AMAZING.  He’s based out of North Carolina.

Orly Avineri, she is an art journaler whose classes and work has cracked wide open my creative process in the last year.

Happy Los Angeles Heather Arndt Happy Los Angeles Heather Arndt Happy_heather_arndt Happy Los Angeles Heather Arndt Happy Los Angeles Heather Arndt Happy Los Angeles Heather Arndt Happy Los Angeles Heather Arndt


  1. I’ve known Heather all her life. She began creating at six, a clay animal from 1st grade and then in college helping her professor with the sculpture the “Marathon Man” in New York City. I believe it’s still in Central Park by the Tavern on the Green. She is a kind, wonderful person and a talented artist. Self-made and very modest, she is an advocate for women in art and more amazing than she knows. Of course by now you’ve guessed I’m her MOM.

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