Purpose and Priorities: Figuring It Out

As an artist at the beginning of my professional career, I find myself wondering how some people seem to make it all work. I keep seeing others, artists, potters, and sculptors, living picture-perfect lives with gorgeous studios and their work in all the big name galleries. How did they get there? They had to be like me at one point, right? Nearly broke and schlepping my work from rental kiln to rental kiln. Making stuff while juggling jobs, wondering when I will possibly have time to sit down and read a book or even pick up a hobby. 

Curious to learn, I sat down with Sue Tirrell, someone who has long-standing relationships with many galleries and experience working with a larger corporation, to discuss how she grew her studio practice into a viable business. I got some answers to my burning questions: How can you direct your path towards a life you want to live? How can you manage a boundary between your personal life and work? Especially, when social media seems to blur those lines and your studio is right next to where you do laundry! She generously shared the story of how she built and navigated her gallery relationships and also her thoughts on what galleries do to earn their commission. We discussed what it’s like to sell wholesale and how those systems can work for a very tiny business. She shed light on the specific realities of the  hard work, planning, and creative thinking it takes to reach your end goals. I am excited to share what I learned with you.

Kayla Noble: Let’s start at the beginning, I'd love to know about how you started turning your art practice into a business. Was there a specific point when you realized it was working, or did it happen over a long period of time?