Maker Stories

Inside the Artists’ Studios: A Year of Creativity

January 8, 2016

Inside the Artists' Studios | UncommonGoods

One of the most exciting things about serving as Editor of The Goods is that there’s always a Maker Story right around the corner. I am honored to get opportunities to meet talented artists, to see what they make and how they make it, and– when I’m extra lucky– to actually step inside their creative spaces. Over the past year, I had the pleasure of visiting several artists and seeing them in action, as did a few of our blog contributors, photographers, and buyers.  

From woodworking to weaving to jewelry making and beyond, we saw so much creativity last year that we couldn’t help but give our 2015 Studio Tours one more chance to shine before heading out with cameras and notepads to capture more inspirational moments in the year to come. Here are a few hand-picked highlights from those Studio Tours, complete with a few inspirational quotes, photos that made me want to drop everything and start a new creative project on the spot, and plenty of great advice. 

Richard Upchurch at his workbench

Richard Upchurch's Tools

Check out the full Studio Tour with Richard Upchurch >>

What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?

Richard Upchurch, brandnewnoise creator: I am surrounded by other artists, woodworkers, electronics wizards, and musicians that constantly challenge me to be better. I try not to get overwhelmed and just keep honing my skills in lots of different areas. We are all here to encourage each other, so I keep my eyes open and my hands always ready to build something.

Wooden Beer Caddies from Woodthumb | UncommonGoods

How to have fun at work: Add a swing to your workspace like Woodthumb

Check out the full Studio Tour with David and Christopher Steinrueck >>

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?

Christopher and David Steinrueck, woodworkers: When things are handmade, you can’t cut corners.

Tricia Wright Weaving | UncommonGoods

Check out the full Studio Tour with Tricia Wright >>

Where do you find inspiration within this space?

Tricia Wright, Reclaimed Bike Tube Rug designer: The act of weaving is calming and the repetition allows my mind to both wander and focus, if that makes sense. Things bubble up while I’m weaving. Working the loom leaves room for a lot of subconscious creativity and inspiration.

Inside the Artist's Studio with Nils Wessell | UncommonGoods

Check out the full Studio Tour with Nils Wessell >>

Where do you find inspiration in your workspace?

Nils Wessell, woodworker: If I’m looking for inspiration at the shop, I do one of a few things. I’ll draw down the saw blade on the table saw, lie down on the flat table, and look at the ceiling. Usually I’m thinking about geometric shapes, concepts about uniformity and regularity, and the aesthetics of architecture. Another option is to wander over to the library I keep in our shop and take a look through one of many design books.

Casey Elsass | UncommonGoods

Casey Elsass Quote | UncommonGoods

 Check out the full Studio Tour with Casey Elsass >> 

What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?

Casey Elsass, Spicy Honey and Syrup maker: Something I think everyone should remember, in life, in business, in everything: “Success is the graceful execution of plan B.” Failure is inevitable, just find a solution and move on as fluidly as possible.

Inside the Artist's Studio with Jen Pleasants

She Believed She Could, So She Did | UncommonGoods

Check out the full Studio Tour with Jen Pleasants >>

What quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?

Jen Pleasants, jewelry designer: “She believed she could, so she did” is one of my favorites as I honestly believe that if you are persistent and don’t give up, you can visualize your end goal, then you can attain it.

We were so inspired by Jen’s gorgeous studio that we asked her for advice on creating a positivity-packed workspace. Check out Jen’s blog post to see her tips.

Inside the Artist's Studio with Dave Marcoullier | UncommonGoods

Check out the full Studio Tour with Dave Marcoullier >>

How do you set goals for yourself?

Dave Marcoullier, woodworker: I believe in lists. I keep a running list of bite-sized goals and tasks that need to be completed within a window of days and weeks. I also have broader lists of design ideas and plans for business growth that I need to keep checking in on as the months progress. Finally, I have those big, hairy goals that I let marinate in my brain, keeping me dreaming about things that seem almost out of reach.

Inside the Artist's Studio with Phil Thompson | UncommonGoods

Check out the full Studio Tour with Phil Thompson >>

Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?

Phil Thompson, illustrator: My wife is like the Roman emperor giving the thumbs up or down when I show her a finished product. She’s honest. Sometimes the result stings, but over time it makes my work better. She also is a cornucopia of ideas about new ways to present my work and new subject matter.

Inside the Artists' Studio with Seth and Maddy Lucas | UncommonGoods

Check out the full Studio Tour with Seth and Maddy Lucas >>

What advice would you (both) offer the you of 5 years ago?

Seth and Maddy Lucas, National Parks Sticker Map creators: Relax, you’ll figure it out. Freaking out over our lack of business knowledge has always made us feel under-qualified, and we’ve had to make some mistakes to figure out what we’re doing. But moving forward and learning from mistakes has been the best way for us to improve.

Alexandra Ferguson Collection | UncommonGoods

Check out the full Studio Tour with Alexandra Ferguson >>

How does your factory deviate from what people might expect or assume?

Alexanda Ferguson, textile designer: I love factories. I love watching all the different machines in action, and listening to the sounds they make. And I love the pride that I see in a workers face when you admire their craftsmanship. There is something so innately satisfying about the visual of a pile of product at the end of the day and knowing that you produced that – a real sense of purpose. Over the last 10 years, I have worked with factories of nearly every scale and specialty, from managing sample rooms for top designers and local NYC garment center work rooms to some of the largest mass production factories in southern China… So you can imagine that opening my own factory two years ago was a dream come true. I remember being so struck though at the visceral reaction I got from some people when I used this word, “factory.” It evoked dark and dingy spaces, overcrowding, mindless work, and child labor. Yes, in my career I have certainly made a bee-line out of some foul spaces with questionable work ethics, but in my experience it was by no means the norm and the opposite of what I intended to build in Brooklyn.

Alexandra Ferguson | Uncommongoods

Go Inside the Artists' Studios | UncommonGoods

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