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Meet Your Maker Monday: Carole Smith of McCheek's Mayhem

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The basics: what is your name, company name (if applicable), website URL, and social media links?

Carole Smith of McCheek’s Mayhem Ceramics and McCheek’s Academy

Instagram.com/mccheek

Facebook.com/mccheeksacademy

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What do you make/create?

I make handmade and slip cast ceramics. Mostly functional and fun planters, cups, incense burners and dishes.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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Meet Your Maker Monday: Dakota Cates of Wizard of Barge

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The basics: what is your name, company name (if applicable), website URL, and social media links?

My name is Dakota Cates and I go by the name Wizard of Barge. You can find my work at instagram.com/wizardofbarge or wizardofbarge.etsy.com

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What do you make/create?

Artwork/products inspired by childhood cartoons, 80's horror movies, and juvenile humor.

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How did you get started in this creative career?

As many kids do, I've always drawn dumb, funny pictures all over everything. It wasn't until I started putting my paintings on the internet that I realized it was something that could be lucrative if I worked really hard at it. So that's what I did, for hours and hours everyday. I moved cities for better opportunities, found jobs that would help me get to my goal even if they paid less, and obsessed over the idea of drawing pictures and doing nothing else.

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Is this your full time job? If not, may we ask what your ‘day job’ is?

It's been my full-time job for almost 2 years now, although technically I've probably put in at least 40 hours a week on it for about 4 years while juggling a day job.

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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?

Wake up between 8-10, reply to emails/DM's, pack orders if needed, usually watch a cartoon while eating breakfast. Then either spend the rest of the day working on projects that I have lined up, or brainstorm on new ideas to expand on, with food breaks and dog walks scattered throughout.

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What is your favorite part of your creative job?

Probably just the fact that all of the work I'm doing is going into my own machine, being self driven and independent, there's a really cool freedom to that. 

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What do you do in your spare time/what hobbies do you have?

If I'm not in my art dungeon I'm most likely skateboarding, playing pinball, or at a bar socializing with real humans instead of podcasts for once.

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What are your long term maker/creative goals? Are you opening a shop, launching other brands, planning any collaborations, etc.?

This is a question I ask myself all the time, and never have a good answer for. As of right now the goal is to just expand, get better, be more financially stable. Probably my ultimate dream job would be creating my own cartoon way down the road.

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What advice do you have for aspiring makers/creatives?

You've got to really love what you do, even to the point where it's unhealthy. It's really difficult and full of totally justifiable reasons to quit and just get a 9-5 job, but if you're in it for the right reasons you'll push through. Put yourself out there, find the local scene that is interested in what you do and go out there, if that doesn't exist in your city, relocate or find your audience on the internet. Surround yourself in things that will push you forward, connect with people, reach out to artists you admire, don't be afraid to get rejected!  As creatives we are usually extremely self critical and our own worst enemy, but more often that not that's where the good stuff comes from. Enjoy the entire process, not just the end result!

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Do you have any events coming up where fans can meet you in person? (markets, art shows, classes, etc.)

You can usually find me at any event at Insomnia Gallery. I'll be in Denver this December, and Lowbrow Con in San Francisco early next year, hopefully will be traveling a lot more in 2018! 

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Meet Your Maker Monday: Kaila Lewis of Lee Lewis Designs

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Today's featured maker holds a special place in my heart, because I watched her launch and grow her business within the walls of the now-defunct Houston Makerspace. Kaila has an amazing eye for design, as well as a great personal sense of style, and this comes through in her minimalist statement jewelry and vintage kimonos. For the purposes of this blog, we'll mostly be talking about the jewelry Kaila makes today. Be sure to stop by the Lee Lewis Designs booth at Black Hole Coffee Shop this Saturday between 10 am and 4 pm for the GOT Vintage market!

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The basics: what is your name, company name (if applicable), website URL, and social media links?

Kaila Lewis

Lee Lewis Designs 

Leelewisdesigns.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leelewisdesigns/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leelewisdesigns/

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What do you make/create?

I am a metalsmith. I make jewelry using brass, silver, copper and natural stones. My work is Modernist, worldly Jewelry. 

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How did you get started in this creative career?

I was doing a product development internship with a fair trade jewelry company in Ecuador. Through this experience, i realized I wanted to learn how to make jewelry. I went to southern Ecuador once the internship ended, and began learning how to make filigree. It was my introduction to metal smithing. 

I continued learning metal smithing in Houston at different art centers, until I found Houston Makerspace where I was able to use the jewelry studio while volunteering. Through access to the studio at Makerspace I was able to practice and learn in my own time. This propelled me to start Lee Lewis Designs. 

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Is this your full time job? If not, may we ask what your ‘day job’ is?

It is not my full time job. I usually work a service or retail job part-time.

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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?

There isn't really a typical day. I spend my time in the studio making jewelry, doing photoshoots and product shots, working on graphics for social media posts, restocking boutiques that carry my work, and all the other things it takes to run a small business. It definitely takes effort and organization to fit it all in, it's a challenge.

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What is your favorite part of your creative job?

I like how through my business I'm able to make my visions come to life through design, photo shoots and collaborations with friends. I also love seeing friends and strangers wearing and loving my work, it's a special feeling. 

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What do you do in your spare time/what hobbies do you have?

In my spare time I like to travel, I'm always looking to get out of town, even if for just one night. I like yoga and moving my body with physical activities in general. Thrifting is also a joy for me - there are so many treasures out there. 

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What are your long term maker/creative goals? Are you opening a shop, launching other brands, planning any collaborations, etc.?

I'd like to turn Lee Lewis Designs into an overarching brand and become more like a design house working with others artists and makers. 

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What advice do you have for aspiring makers/creatives?

Just start - sometimes that can be the hardest part. And be patient, it takes time. You just have to keep chipping away at what you want everyday, sometimes progress is slow but it's always happening. Keep moving in the direction of your vision, how ever slowly or quickly it's happening, find peace in the fact that you are pursuing it. 

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Do you have any events coming up (classes, markets, etc)?

Yes! I'll be at Got Vintage Marketplace on December 9th at Black Hole, and a holiday pop-up at James Brummet's studio on December 14th. 

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Meet Your Maker Monday: Anne Marie D'Arcy of Anne Marie D'Arcy Photography

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This week's Meet Your Maker Monday finds us speaking with a photographer who has really unlocked the dream: waking up when she feels like it and spending her days immersed in creativity! Anne Marie is a truly talented photographer who is a joy to spend time with and has some great advice for aspiring photographers as well as anyone who's goal is to turn their creative side hustle into a full time gig. Read on to find out how she got where she is today!

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The basics: what is your name, company name (if applicable), website URL, and social media links?

Anne Marie D’Arcy

Anne Marie D’Arcy Photography

Amdarcyphotography.com

Facebook: Anne Marie D’Arcy Photography

What do you make/create?

I make photographs, more specifically I retell the story of events though photography, whether it be a wedding, or a charity’s fundraiser event, or a company's client appreciation event, a trade show, or even a music festival or concert.  I also do portraits, head shots, and architecture.  I teach photography at the Houston Center for Photography.

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How did you get started in this creative career?

The beginning was an apprenticeship. I did this when I was 22 until I was 24 with a well-known Houston Photographer; Jim Olive with Stockyard Photos. This lead to a staff photographer position at a national retailer called Francesca’s Collections. I was there for 4 years, and I learned a great deal at both of these places and to a large degree was formed as a photographer and business person with these two experiences.

Is this your full time job? If not, may we ask what your ‘day job’ is?

Photography is my full time job with a part-time job of teaching photography.

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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 is me waking up whenever I feel rested - not by an alarm clock - which I enjoy very much.  I usually putter around for a few hours making coffee, playing with my dogs, and perusing social media.  At some point when it feels right, I sit down in my home office to answer emails and edit photos that were usually taken at a wedding the weekend before.  I may have a sales meeting at some point in the day or I may have a 2 or 4 hour corporate gig in the evening. Corporate events are typically on weekdays, which is convenient because weddings are always on the weekend. I teach one day a week, but it’s only for 2 or 3 hours; it cuts into my morning putter a bit but I don’t really mind. A wedding day begins similarly to a week day because most wedding don’t begin before noon, although there is the occasional brunch wedding.  I usually leave to arrive at a wedding around 2 pm, and I will be working until 10 or 11 pm. It varies, but that’s a pretty typical timeline from the pre-ceremony to the grand exit.  My typical day no matter what the day consists of is living a healthy lifestyle with good, fresh, nutritious food, no drinking alcohol or moderate drinking, no drugs, and exercise as often as I can motivate myself towards it.  One cannot successfully maintain deadlines, client relationships, demanding shooting hours, and general business operations without being healthy, mind, body and soul. So I avoid drama, too.

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What is your favorite part of your creative job?

I’m grateful all the time for my creative job and really love challenging myself to become better and better at what I produce. Each new thing I learn builds on the last thing I pushed myself to learn.  Keeping up with the technology in photography can be onerous but exciting when you do it, because the technology does facilitate better quality images.  I love the wonderful relationships I make with other creatives; we learn from each other. But if I had to choose one benefit of building a business around your creative skill set, it is the freedom to design your life just how you want it to be or as close as you can really get to that.

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What do you do in your spare time/what hobbies do you have?

For a long time I didn’t have any hobbies. Photography took up all of my space. In the last few years, as the business has really started to walk and talk on its own, I have been able to make room for new hobbies.  I like to cook and bake a lot. I love it; I live for the Great British Baking Show.  I also recently signed up for a basic drawing class at Art League Houston, because I long for new creative outlets and I always loved drawing as a child.


What are your long term maker/creative goals? Are you opening a shop, launching other brands, planning any collaborations, etc.?

I’ve developed a little sister company that focuses on Architectural photography.  It’s website is HTXphotography.com. It’s still very much in the new born phase, I mean it’s really still in the womb, and has a long way to go, but I would like to have a high-end, fine art company to sort of retire into, if that makes sense.  So I’ve begun to build that and then at some point of course you have to start to promote it and promote your name within that niche. I’m not there with it yet but you know….goals.

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What advice do you have for aspiring makers/creatives?

As a teacher of photography I see a lot of people, a lot of students, who have taken some good photos and they want to take some classes, learn their equipment and start that photography business. I always find it a little naive.  I mean sure you can do that, you can second photographer a lead photographer a few times, take some classes and then build a website and off you go, but I would recommend that before you do those steps you should at least take a year or two or ten to just love the craft of photography, cultivate the talent for it, quietly obsess over the work of others that you admire, get some jobs with other established photographers first, do a few art collections, have an art show, win an award or two and then you’ll be on the path to being a real deal photographer. Once you achieve that the rest is much easier. If you start your business with some credentials and a diverse portfolio the clients will come.

Do you have any events coming up where fans can meet you in person?

Anne Marie’s upcoming classes at The Houston Center for Photography:

Sign up here http://www.hcponline.org/classes

class schedule
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Meet Your Maker Monday: Jade Young of Jadeolantern

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Welcome to the inaugural post of Meet Your Maker Monday on macleansmyth.com! One of the biggest questions I get when I mentor artists and makers is "How do other people make it look so easy?!" and "Can I really pay my bills with this creative hobby?". This blog series is an attempt to answer those questions by looking into the live of other makers. How are they structuring their days? How are they paying their bills? How did they even start out?

This week's feature is a young woman who has figured out how to balance a creative day job with an impressive offering of unique illustrations. I really appreciate Jade's candor in this interview and hope you'll follow her on IG and check out her solo show on December 9th at El Bambi!

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The basics: what is your name, company name (if applicable), website URL, and social media links?

My name is Jade Young, my website is jadeolantern.com, but I only update my Instagram (IG: jadeolantern)

What do you make/create?

I make drawings, mostly ink illustrations, and mostly in my sketchbook.

How did you get started in this creative career?

I’ve been drawing since I can remember. I’ve always had a sketchbook, and art has always been how I defined myself.

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Is this your full time job? If not, may we ask what your ‘day job’ is?

No, drawing is not my full time job. I work as a graphic designer for a small web development company here in Houston.

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?

I get up pretty early to get to work by 7:30 and spend all day at my desk balancing work projects and any personal projects I am working on. I am really lucky that my day job allows for me to be creative and also work on personal creative work.

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What is your favorite part of your creative job?

When I was younger my favorite part of drawing was showing other people the finished product, or strategically working on drawings in places where I knew people would stop and say ‘Woah, did YOU draw that?’, but now that I am older and wiser my favorite part of drawing is the step after I have the pencil sketch done and I start inking the drawing. It’s very calming and fun.

What do you do in your spare time/what hobbies do you have?

Most of my spare time is spent drinking and socializing, but in the last couple of years I have become obsessed with roller skating - so much so that it's almost all I draw anymore and my boyfriend is building me a mini ramp in my backyard to practice on.

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What are your long term maker/creative goals? Are you opening a shop, launching other brands, planning any collaborations, etc.?

Right now I am taking each project as it comes. Currently I am drawing like crazy to finish pieces for my upcoming solo show, ‘Cool on the Inside’. In the future I would like to be more established as an illustrator, but I am pretty content where I am right now. 

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What advice do you have for aspiring makers/creatives?

For sure I have not ‘made it’ as an artist/creative, but I have noticed a definite improvement in my art and in the amount of freelance attention I have gotten in the last couple of years just because I am consistently producing work. I think that is the most important thing, just keep trying. 

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Do you have any events coming up where fans can meet you in person?

Yes! I have a solo show at El Bambi Dec 9th 12pm-4pm called 'Cool on the Inside' that I am pretty excited about. 

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Check out Jadeolantern on Instagram and stay tuned for next week's featured artist, Anne Marie D'arcy from Anne Marie D'arcy Photography!

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Welcoming Meet Your Maker Monday, Workshop Wednesday, and Field Trip Friday to MacleanSmyth.com

Back in 2013, I created three regular blog series for the now defunct Houston Makerspace blog, and frankly, I miss them. Starting next Monday, you'll be able to find them here! Here's a breakdown:

Meet Your Maker Monday - There are a TON of cool people making cool things in this town. For those of you looking for a window into other's creative hustle, look no further! Each Monday I'll post an interview with a different local maker and ask how they're making their making work for them. Upcoming features include Jadeolantern, AMD Photography, Wizard of Barge, Lee Lewis Designs, and more.

Workshop Wednesday - How-to addicts rejoice! Twice a month on Wednesdays, I'll post a crafty tutorial that would make Martha herself proud! Upcoming how-tos include tutorials from my most popular classes - Terrarium Construction and Maintenance and Leather Jewelry.

Field Trip Friday - Hey, you gotta step away from the computer/phone screen every once in a while right? If you're gonna leave your house, you might as well spend your time and money shopping at locally-owned businesses or taking in some art. Each Friday, I'll feature a local business that is supporting local makers or a local museum/gallery. Upcoming field trips include Mettle by FMW Fab Lab, El Bambi, Bespoke HTX, Harrisburg Art Museum, and more.

If you'd like to check out all past MYMM, WW, and FTF posts, head on over to www.houstonmakerspace.com/blog - there are some great posts on there by some amazing volunteers who helped me hold down the blogging fort. These people include Chelsea Shannon, Samantha Roberts, Marisa Brodie, Alex Barber, Liz Young, Cecelia White, and Briana Crepinsek, and I can't thank them enough. I hope you'll look them up and let them know you admire their work if you see them around!

Stay tuned for the next Meet Your Maker Monday on November 20th at 11 am!

 

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