A Whole New Year: Part 2
Today we continue hearing from some great makers about what's firing them up for 2017. Be sure to read Part 1 if you haven't already!
(photo credit: Sara Pimentel)
Do you set strategic goals (personal, financial, career, etc.) at the beginning of each year? Or do you like to move through your year more organically?
Until 2016, I moved through the year organically - taking opportunities as they came along, filling orders for shops and building stock for shows. However, in the last couple of years this strategy started to become a problem. I realized that I had reached my limit in the amount of work I could produce in one year working in an organic way. I needed to streamline my process, reduce the time I took on each piece and have a more structured plan in order to be as efficient as possible in the studio. A further catalyst to this change was when I became pregnant at the end of 2015 - I knew that I needed to make the changes before the majority of my time and attention would be spent on a new born baby.
Do you ever feel mental blocks in the studio? If so, any tips on what gets you unstuck?
I usually feel mental blocks in the studio right after a big show, like the Christmas One of a Kind show. I think it is due to the mental and physical exhaustion that comes with preparing for the show and then selling for 11 days straight by myself. To get rid of the mental block I clean and organize my space! This might also be due to the fact that after a show like OOAK my studio space is usually a total disaster (along with everything else in my life ie: bedroom, laundry etc.) To clear my head, I get to work and make my studio (and home) spotless again - by the time I am done I am inspired to get back to work. I also find reclaiming clay helps me clear my mind and think about the things I would like to make with the clay I am reconstituting.
What do you do in moments of self-doubt?
Ah, the moments of self-doubt. I think I have at least one big one per year. I honestly think it comes with choosing to be an artist. This is not a conventional lifestyle choice and, like anything else, it comes with sacrifices and difficult decisions. Inevitably there will be doubt at some point. In those moments, I usually end up talking to my husband about my options/choices and business - that usually ends in frustration. Then I brood over it for a couple of days and eventually I come to the realization that this is what I am meant to do.
I have been a maker my entire life. My earliest memories are of making things out of random materials I found around the house or drawing or painting. When other children were out playing sports, I was drawing clothing designs and watching Debbie Travis do a faux-finish on a wall. Right now my focus is clay, but at the end of the day, I do what I do because I have a constant urge to create. Whether it's re-decorating a room or knitting a hat or making a mug, I constantly have ideas and I NEED to make them, I would be miserable otherwise.
Have you ever taken a hiatus from your work?
I took a four month break after the birth of my son and it was the longest time I have ever gone without making or creating anything (well, other than a baby... haha). I was positively itching to get my hands in clay again. I did what I always do - cleaned and tidied my space. Then I handed my son over to my husband and went into my studio for a couple of hours. IT WAS GLORIOUS. I had a silly grin on my face for the rest of the day and I felt more like myself than I had in months. The hiatus didn’t change anything about my approach to making. With a baby, I have a lot less time in the studio so I have to be super efficient when I have a chance to work.
Is there a mistake you’ve learned from in the past, specific to your artistic practice, that you’d be willing to share with us?
I have made many mistakes along the way, but I think one of my biggest ones was broadening my product list too quickly, which resulted in spreading myself too thin. It's not efficient to try to make a variety of products at once. It's better to do large batches of one product at a time. However, with over forty different items in my catalogue, that approach was impossible to do. If I were to do things over again, I would grow my product line slowly - one item at a time - instead of designing five or six new products every time I had a show deadline.
Do you set strategic goals at the beginning of each year?
When I first