Career Profile: Handmade Artist

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Interview by Mia Sutton Words & Images by Amber Thomas www.amberthomasmakes.com

Tell us a little bit about what it's like being a handmade artist. What's a typical day like for you?

Right now my small business is the bread in my day's sandwich. In the mornings I gear up for the day (and creativity) with some reading, Instagram cruising, Pinterest searching, and other consumption. Taking in beauty then serves as a foundation for my mind while I transition into my full time, professional job. I spend most of my day in an office where I'm doing everything but creative work. Then, in the afternoons, I rush home to get a few hours of paint and pretty in before dinner with my husband. It's not the most glamorous process, but it's practicality and passion meeting in the middle. Life's about balance, right?

I've realized what's most important for my process is daily engagement. This isn't always easy or big -sometimes I'm tossing ten minutes into a scribble of calligraphy- but it's necessary for my soul.

Where do you find your inspiration for your art/items?

Wonder is a sense of worshiping the beauty that abounds in God's green Earth. And so, my art is always infused with a wondrous awe of the creation in which we live and do. Painting (and drawing and calligraphy) is a reverent act of my thankful soul. More specifically, I have a deep-seated love for Georgia O’Keeffe, her florals, and her details. I’ll forever cherish the boldness of Frida Kahlo’s statements within her pieces. And I melt into a puddle over the sculpture of Petah Coyne. I am an art history buff, so you could drop a female artist from any day or age onto my step and inspiration will abound.

What has been the hardest thing about owning your own shop? And the best thing?

I've really struggled with learning to price my products. Art is such a passion for me that I long for people to have beautiful pieces in their home and office. Sometimes I forget the business side of my shop because I'm so deeply committed to sharing beauty with my clients and customers. This is a double-edged sword because while I do art for the making's sake, my shop needs to maintain itself financially. I'm learning, certainly, but I've got a long way to grow.

My favorite part is the process of collaboration that comes with art making. My customers are vibrant souls with rich lives and for a moment of time I get a glance in to tailor my aesthetics to their wishes. It is something I will never forget, be impressed by, or take for granted.

If you could record a message to play when a customer receives one of your items in the mail, what would you tell them?

I don't know that I'd play a message, so much as include a whole lot of glitter. I include a small handwritten in note in most of my orders and those are tailored to each person. So, I do leave a message for each customer, it's just that I don't have a blanket statement to send. As I mentioned before, my favorite part of this whole process is the opportunity to connect with my customers' lives through my art.

What is your hope for your business and art 5 years from now?

With the possibility of kids, job changes, new routines, and changing demands professionally, I realize I'll be required to reassess and prioritize. Quite honestly, I know certain things will have to give way for others and I can't wait to see how my creative process (and resulting business) will change and transform alongside me.

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