How long have you been an artisan? How did your particular skillset develop over time?
I’ve been working as a full-time artist for 3 years. I graduated from Buffalo State in 2015 where I studied ceramics. Before Buffalo State I studied fine art at Niagara County Community College (NCCC).
At NCCC I focused a lot on drawing and painting; when I transferred to Buffalo State and took a ceramics class and learned I could draw and paint on clay using a technique called sgraffito. I always loved drawing, and when I found out I could draw on something functional I was hooked.
It’s funny, looking back on college and the work that I was making then, because a lot of what I was thinking about I still think about and want to portray in my work today. In college I was trying to express duality and communication and often came up short as I was trying to be too literal. Now I use images that I have a connection with and don’t obsess about explaining the meaning. I want the viewer to connect with the piece and have their own interpretation, because everyone has their own viewpoint and experiences.
Over time and a lot of hours spent in the studio, I finally developed a style that I loved. I created forms and designed images that I could repeat and created a system for production. I am still learning as I continue to grow as an artist and business owner. Being your own boss takes a lot of motivation and drive. Learning how to run my own business was very challenging as I did not have any experience in anything other than making the product. I had to learn sales, marketing, financial planning, NYS sales tax, and so much more. So, not only have I developed skills as an artist, but also as a business owner these past 3 years.
Please describe your work / product.
My work is all wheel thrown on a potter’s wheel using porcelain clay. I then hand paint and carve each piece using images of ravens, buffalos, flowers and bees to name a few.
Each piece is functional, as functionality is important to me because ceramic dishes are often used to share meals and coffee or tea. With this time shared there are usually meaningful conversations had and memories made. Also, a piece of pottery that was handmade has a journey of its own and connection with the maker.
I love that every piece I make is one of a kind and that the buyer can use the piece however they see fit.
Who are some of your favorite artisans / makers in the region? Who amongst your peers inspires your work?
I really look up to my college professors — Brian Hopkins was one of them. His work with porcelain is inspiring. He’s one of the reasons I took my first ceramics class in college. He took all of his students at the end of the semester to his studio to show us what a working artist’s studio looked like. After that visit I was inspired to become a full-time artist, and that next year I took my first ceramics class.
I am really inspired by the people closest to me. My designs come from conversations and connections I’ve had. The raven design came from a pretty deep conversation I had with a partner of mine at the time. It has evolved a lot since then as I think about connection and communication and how I want to express that in my work as well in other designs.
How long have you been a business owner in WNY?
How long have you been a part of Buffalo Women’s Gifts?
This will be my third year!
Where can people see / purchase your work year-round?
In Buffalo –
In Rochester –
Where else will you be representing your wares this holiday season?
The Market in the Horsefeathers Building – Dec 21
WNYBAC Last Minute Panic Holiday Marketplace
– Dec 13-14