Valerie Costanza | Episode 861
Valerie Costanza earned a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts with emphasis in Ceramics from the Gwen Frostic School of Art inside Western Michigan University. While attending art school in Kalamazoo, MI (yes it’s a real place!) Valerie found a passion for working with her hands and using materials from earth to make functional objects and sculpture. Upon graduation, her work moved all across the country, living and working nomadically in various states growing as an artist and maker. Now, nestled in Georgia, Valerie has officially opened her own humble ceramics small business – mind body clay ceramics & teaches the art of creating in clay to the public.
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As you were developing the art career that you have now, was it important to have multiple streams of income?
Yes. Short answer, yes. I’ve seen a lot of different things work, especially on social media. I’ve seen artist do pre-orders and they sell their work like that , or they just do online shop updates. For me I think that it was important for me to have different avenues of income because of the way that I like to live… a different standard of living… I like to eat organic food… go to yoga… And this costs money. I think what I should have done though is perfected each facet before I jumped into all the facets, and maybe had some procedures in place. But, no. Once I got my studio, I was like I’m gonna buy a $4,000 new kiln and a brand new wheel AND I’m gonna teach classes and I’m gonna do shows and I’m gonna do online shop updates and… I wanted to do it all. But then it was like, Burnout! You can’t keep up with yourself. So you need to halt it back.
Is it important to have multiple products that you are making?
I don’t think that that is necessary. I can’t speak for every artist, but I can speak for me. I think just going with what you love to do and leading with that first is very important. I think that that is something that is very lost and we go for what is going to sell and who is going to buy it. So my answer at first would be, do what you love and put your whole heart into it as an artist. If you are a merchant and you want to sell a product because that is your income, then make the best mug you can make. But as far as making different products and you need different price points, then go for it.
How valuable is growing your reputation as the pottery lady?
I think for me to be the pottery lady and I am in the grocery store and I have mud on my cloths and eggs in my hand, and a young girl says, That’s Miss Valerie and she’s my pottery teacher! That warms my heart and is a happy teacher moment. Knowing that I am a person that inspires people, that is important to me. Yes, that is a gift I can give.
Does coming from a nomadic lifestyle and setting roots, does that give you special insights to see what is lacking in the community?
I think being a part of a community now has opened doors and being settle has opened doors, and when I was nomadic, I knew that was missing. But I knew that when I was settled my work would improve. So that has been good for me. But when I was in a car driving across country, I got a lot of visual inspiration for my work.
Having lived the nomadic life, how to you avoid the humdrum of life?
It’s not all bad having a settled life, but I think the humdrum just kinda comes with the territory when you become domesticated. The way we deal with it is, we get out in nature as much as we can. We make really good food. For the mind, the body, I love the trilogy of the three. Whether that is sitting under a tree, being with yourself, taking a yoga class, being with a loved one and laugh a lot.
Wild Trees by Richard Preston