ABOUT THIS EPISODE:
Carole Epp is a ceramicist living and working in Saskatoon in Canada. After Finishing her masters in Australia she had to find clever ways to maintain access to the kilns and other equipment she needed to continue her artistic practice but she made it work. I got to ask Carole about her dual bodies of work, her long running ceramics blog, and how she’s managed to build her career while raising two young kids. We also got to talk about professional practices, the importance of building community, and creating opportunities for yourself and others.
FIND CAROLE EPP:
on her website: www.caroleepp.com
her instagram: @musingaboutmud
her blog: www.musingaboutmud.blogspot.ca
Make And Do Ceramics collective: www.makeanddo.ca
Make And Do on instagram: @make_and_do_ceramics
MY TOP TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS EPISODE:
-If you’re in school, take advantage of the equipment.
-Get together with other students and try to problem solve the issue of access to equipment that you’ll face when you graduate. Leave school with a plan instead of panic.
-Before you leave school start thinking about adapting your work to what will be available to you when you leave. That might mean saving up to get your own equipment and or adapting your work to more accessible equipment. In the case of ceramics electric kilns tend to be cheaper and easier to set up.
-Consider grad school abroad, It can be really expensive (although some countries may actually be more affordable) but studying abroad offers a bonus layer of adventure.
-The university system tends to focus mainly on the theoretical aspects partially on technical skill and not much on the practical business side that helps you pay rent so expect to have to find your own way to learn that side of things.
-Take advantage of student or emerging artist shows to start getting some lines on your CV.
-At the beginning (which lasts for years) you have to push push push to get yourself out there but eventually you can get to a point where people start coming to you with opportunities and you don’t have to do quite as much chasing.
-Take advantage of family support if you can. That may be financial support, but it may also be help to access space transportation or even just moral support.
-It’s not impossible to make a full living from your art but don’t be too hard on yourself if you aren’t there yet, even some artists that you think are super successful may not be the sole breadwinner of their families.
-There are only so many hours in a day, everyone needs income to pay the bills but you also need time to invest in your career in order for it to become more profitable. Same thing if you are a parent, when not all your time is your own it can be hard to get ahead. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
-You need to have an initial period to develop your work where you don’t put too much pressure on your work to pay the bills.
-Things tend to grow organically when you say yes to lots of interesting opportunities. You meet people, you make good impressions, you learn things, and one opportunity can lead to the next.
-Be community minded. Don’t contribute to overly competitive or cutthroat tendencies in the art world. Turn your efforts to things that can lift others up with you to see the greatest return on investment.
-If you are thinking about starting to blog think about how much you have to say. One post a week is 52 posts per year. How long will you be able to keep up with whatever pace you set yourself? Also ask yourself whether people are looking for what you are planning to write. Are would be collectors needing to get to know you? Is there a lack of information out there about working in your medium? Does your local art community lack an online hub?
-What do you wish you could get into? Could you create that opportunity for yourself and others? Start small and expand from there. Carole was involved in starting up an alternative art and crafts fair with lower table fees and that catered to a slightly different market.
-What do you wish existed? A certain art show? website? class? podcast? gallery? Why couldn’t you be the one to create it?