What do you make/create?
I make handmade and slip cast ceramics. Mostly functional and fun planters, cups, incense burners and dishes.
How did you get started in this creative career?
I went to art college in London, and after I finished my degree and postgraduate I started a lighting business called Candy’s Chandies where I made and designed lights and chandeliers. Fast forward several years, and I got back into ceramics while doing a residency at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston. I started off really slowly, selling the odd piece on Etsy, in Hello Lucky, and at local craft markets. I was working in the restaurant business at the same time, and about three years later (in 2010) I decided to quit my job to start teaching ceramics and making full time.
Is this your full time job? If not, may we ask what your ‘day job’ is?
My two businesses McCheek’s Academy and McCheek’s Mayhem Ceramics make my job more than full time. I teach ceramics to kids and adults from my studio and make my own work around my class schedule.
What does a typical day look like for you? If you have a day job, is it difficult to fit your creative projects into your schedule?
A typical day for me is usually checking emails with coffee first thing, getting prepared for a class, figuring out if there’s anything pressing that needs to be promoted on social media or via email, packing orders for Etsy, and trying to squeeze in making my own ceramics. Often I have one class in the morning and one in the evening, so in between I’m juggling all these different aspects of the business. Over the summer when my teaching schedule is particularly heavy with summer camps, I hardly get any of my own work done, which tends to get to me by the end of the summer.
What is your favorite part of your creative job?
Being alone in my studio making new work and listening to music. Playing shops and selling my wares. I also really love teaching!
What do you do in your spare time/what hobbies do you have?
I don’t have a lot of spare time, but I like to go and see live music, sometimes art openings and exhibitions too. Exercise is important to me; I’m into yoga and cycling, but when I get too busy around holiday time that usually stops.
What are your long term maker/creative goals? Are you opening a shop, launching other brands, planning any collaborations, etc.?
I’d like to figure out doing more wholesale to sell to different shops around the country. I get asked fairly frequently about doing that, but I find it hard to find the time to make enough work and to balance the financial rewards from wholesale prices. I have just started to do more specific ceramic workshops once a month, so that feels like an exciting new move for my business. I also want to make another larger body of work that is more geared to the art gallery market.
What advice do you have for aspiring makers/creatives?
My advice to aspiring makers is to just keep at it and get your work out there. If it’s really important to you, you have to find the time to make things even if you have another full time job that takes up most of your time. Remember that this is not necessarily an easy path to take, but it is worth it for being creative and your own boss. I know from experience that it’s hard to always have confidence in your own creative pursuits partly because it’s such a personal thing, but it’s worth conquering the fear of rejection to get to the next level. I remember when I first made my chandeliers and I dared myself to ask if I could sell them in this really cool shop right in the heart of Soho, London. I set up a meeting, which was completely nerve wracking, but they liked them and agreed to put them in their shop!
Do you have any events coming up where fans can meet you in person? (markets, art shows, classes, etc.)
There are still a few spots left in this week's Clay and Cabernet class, which happens every Thursday evening from 7 - 10 pm. Sign up here!