Suzanne is the first of our makers to be featured in our Maker’s Series. I recently stumbled upon her work at the Art Star Craft Bazaar, and loved her unusual textures and quirky imagery.
What made you start making ceramics?
I started making ceramics in my freshman year of high school. I went to a public school in a pretty rural area that happened to have a really knowledgeable, super talented ceramics teacher. I don't think I would have gotten into art school without her help and encouragement (Thanks Mrs. P!). I was the kid who skipped lunch to stay an extra 45 minutes in the classroom and brought huge pieces on the school bus to work on at home. I was drawn to clay right away and I still feel most comfortable working with three dimensional materials
How is your industry evolving?
I'm fortunate that ceramics are very popular right now. Handmade ceramics are super trendy and while that means more competition to get my own work seen, the demand is enough that I'm easily able to find ways to sell my work successfully.
One thing I realize now that I wish I’d known when I was starting out is…
That ceramics is the medium I would always be passionate about. When I first started art school I was an undecided major and when it came down to choosing between ceramics and fibers (textile arts) I chose fibers. After graduating and realizing my enthusiasm for the textile industry wasn't as strong as it used to be, I decided to see if switching back to my old material of choice would help me get motivated to make things again. After struggling for a few months, it did.
Are there any resources you’ve utilized that have helped you creatively or with your business?
I was working a job at a little museum that was making me miserable so for the first time in my life I made a big decision to quit that job without having another one lined up. While I was funemployed I started interning at The Clay Studio here in Philadelphia which gave me a place to work and to have my pieces fired. I eventually moved up to their more intensive work exchange program and also got myself a job working at The Ceramic Shop also in Philly. I get my work fired there now and have access to all the materials and supplies I could ever want/need. I'm more fortunate than most but I've also worked super hard and made a lot of sacrifices to get to this point. Ceramics has taken over my life.
How do you glean inspiration for your work?
I mostly hand build so I tend to gravitate toward other hand built work. I have been interested in Pueblo pottery for a while now and I recently started looking at pre-historic Korean pottery and ancient fertility goddesses for inspiration. I'm working towards moving away from functional objects a little bit and experimenting with more sculptural work.
My favorite way to unwind is...
Honestly a consistent yoga practice has done me the most good as far as stress management goes. I haven't been consistent in a while but I'm working on getting more diligent with it again. I also enjoy jogging along the river and hanging out with my dog, Lazer.
I deal with discouragement by....
Letting myself be sad for a little bit but also remembering that life isn't fair and most of my problems really aren't that terrible.
What drives you?
My drive comes from an intense desire to always be productive and have something I'm proud of to show for it. Having a consistent studio practice was always a dream of mine but a combination of laziness and fear of failure kept me from even trying to start one. So I force myself to sign up for craft shows even though I kind of hate them. I push myself to make work when I'm not feeling a shred of motivation and all I want to do is watch TV under a blanket all day. I'm also lucky enough to be married to a wonderful man who pushes me both gently and not so gently towards success. His help and support have meant everything to me and I don't know where I would be without him.