Friday, August 31, 2007

Pottery by Tasha McKelvey

Tasha McKelvey creates beautiful, yet functional pottery, ceramic buttons and jewelry. In a mass-produced world, her work shines and stands out, as she seeks to make handmade art to make “our surroundings a little more human.” The passion and love for clay art is evident in her products-each texture, each line, and each color combination seems to be lovingly created and chosen with intention.

“I worked as a Potter’s Assistant in high school – so I learned some aspects of the business at a young age. In some ways, I modeled my business too much on my mentors’ business when I could have been marketing my work more effectively. It took me five years to figure that out.”

“I also have a degree in Studio Art – which gave me what I need to know to create my work but was vague on how to make a living from my work.”

Customer of All Ages
“My customers are aged from 5 to 85 and slightly more likely to be female then male. Until a few years ago, the vast majority of my customers were baby-boomer females because I only made functional pottery and marketed it through Fine Art & Craft Shows and Galleries. I always knew that my work would appeal to my contemporaries if only I could find venues that attracted them. Once I got involved with the Etsy community, I was able to connect with Indie Shoppers through Etsy and Indie Shows.”

Listen and Experiment
“I listen to what my customers and potential customers say when I am at retail shows. I like to experiment with new designs and am always thrilled when they are well-received.”

“With my ceramic jewelry, I try to pay attention to trends and I take them into consideration when I design new work.”

Start Up Challenges
“Just figuring out how to run a business when you’re 22, out of school and just want to make your art. There was a big learning curve. I read books on running a craft business and learned from my mistakes.”

Picking the Right Type of Show for the Product
“I steer clear of shows that have a commercial feel about them – my work is appreciated by buyers who are looking for handmade products. I once gave a ‘commercial-type’ craft show a try because it was a slow time of year and I figured ‘what the heck,’ but I ended up feeling like I wasted three days even though I still made a profit. Being at a venue where your work is under-appreciated in favor of mass-produced items being passed off as ‘handmade’ is a depressing experience.”

Craft Shows As Marketing Tools
"I find that the best way to market my work is by making it readily available for purchase in venues such as retail shows and online. In both cases, having good images of my work is an absolute must.”

“I often pick up wholesale accounts and press coverage from both retail shows and selling online.”

Business Challenge
“My biggest challenge at the moment is producing enough new work for my Fall retail shows and the Holiday Season. It is a terrible feeling to know you could have sold twice as much if only you had had been able to make more.”

“I love creating new work and the faster it sells the sooner you get to make even more new work.”

Recommended Business Resources
“The book Crafting as a Business by Wendy Rosen, The Switchboards, Etsy, Indie Craft Shows, and my own art and craft business blog.”

Inspired by…
“The tradition of making beautiful useful objects by hand.”

“The potters I have worked alongside since I was a teenager and all of the other helpful professional artists and crafters I have met over the past 7 years.”

Words of Advice-Learn, learn, learn
“Learn as much as you can about the business end of making and selling handmade work. Do your research before you start a business. Expect to do a lot of hard work.”


No comments: