Browsing Tag



8 Quotes that Keep Makers Motivated

January 10, 2014

Everyone has those days when pulling the covers up a little higher and staying in bed a bit longer seems like the best possible decision. Some people are also prone to getting cozy on the couch with visions of video streaming in their heads these days. We all have moments when we lack motivation, but sometimes getting out of that lull, or avoiding it from the start, isn’t so hard. Keeping a meaningful quote in mind can bring inspiration, help you stay motivated, and make all the difference in the world when you’re feeling down.

Many of our artists and designers have sayings that hold special places in their hearts, so each time we go behind the scenes for a studio tour we ask for the featured artist to share the words that keep them primed to create. Here are a few of our favorites from 2013.

 Samuel Beckett Quote

Kasia Wisniewski & Nicholas Foley have an industrial sized laser cutter in their apartment. They use it to create their beautiful art, and they used it to share their favorite Samuel Beckett quote with us. They also shared their own words of wisdom on our studio tour: “You should always be aiming to ‘fail better’ on the next go-round.”

Susan Jeffers Quote

Illustrator Adrienne Vita took her quote from the title of a self help book by Susan Jeffers, but uses it to stay motivated when it comes to trying new things.

Amey Quote

Tattoo artist turned UncommonGoods Design Challenge winner Matthew Amey’s favorite quote is made up of three little words with big meaning. “My efforts flow through these three simple statements,” he said. “Imagine; think outside the box, allow yourself to wonder. Create; make work, be creative and productive. Inspire; make work that inspires others to think, contemplate or produce work of their own. Repeat…”

Paulo Coehlo
“The most amazing part about my job is creating every single day and doing what I love,” said jewelry artist Emilie Shapiro when we stopped by her studio in Queens. We’re glad she’s found her treasure!

Thomas Edison

Etta Kostick creates beautiful stained glass pieces, using a technique her father taught her, from her home studio in Chicago. She sent us this Thomas Edison quote, and told us how it helped her get her make art a career: “It was terrifying to take that initial leap and go full time with my business but this quote was a reminder of how I should approach life and work.”

Friedrich Nietzsche Quote

Graphic designer, woodworker, and design challenge winner Jeff Knight shared this bit of inspiration from Friedrich Nietzsche among the boards and blades in his Fargo, ND wood shop.

Tolkien Quote

Janelle Haskin won our Winter Accessories Design Challenge armed with yarn and crochet hooks. She also had this Tolkien quote to keep her going.

Meghan Ellie Smith Quote

Painter Meghan Ellie Smith uses watercolor to create bold scenes. She also used those pretty pigments to write out her favorite quote. Though nontraditional, Meghan finds meaning in this message. She told us, “One time I was in the car with my mom and I asked her, ‘How many birds are there in the world?’ She responded, ‘Seven. It’s all mirrors.’ Both hilarious, and amazing. It’s way more fun to let your imagination bend reality and see the world however you want.”

What quote keeps you motivated?

Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio with Jim Loewer

January 3, 2014

Jim Loewer Studio Tour | UncommonGoods
In stepping in and out of so many artists’ studios in the last two years, I realize that spaces can be categorized in two ways – those that provide inspiration and those that are all about the process. While some studios straddle the two, Jim Loewer’s studio, situated within a complex for various artists in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia, was designed for his process. With little choices for a comfortable seat, Jim’s studio is built (and melted) around his tools, supplies, and storage of his finished product. He is a veritable one-man glass-blowing factory.

Don’t let that description lead you to believe his space was boring. Not in the slightest. Between the rock music and the pyrotechnics, I though I might have actually been at a Who concert, and the showmanship was just as exciting. He prepared the supplies for his two most popular UncommonGoods pieces – the Bullseye Suncatcher and Heart Bowl – so I could see them being completed, truly experiencing his process. He even gave me the opportunity to get in on the glass blowing experience.

Every time I step into a new studio, it is more unique than the last and my visit with Jim will definitely stand out in my mind as one of the most special.

Jim Loewer Studio Tour | UncommonGoodsWhat are your most essential tools?
A torch, oxygen, propane, various graphite tools, metal grabbers, clear and colored glass rod and tubing, rock and roll or NPR.

Where do you find inspiration within this space?
Honestly, I’m starting to get a little crowded in here and look for a bigger space, but I like to have my laptop for breaks and I like the light coming in through the large windows and the ride out here every day along the Schuylkill River.

Jim Loewer Studio Tour | UncommonGoodsWhere does down time fit into a day in the studio?
Lately too much Facebook, but I try to save most of my down time for after work.

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
I under-priced my work for a long time because I was just so happy that people wanted it.

Jim Loewer Studio Tour | UncommonGoodsJim Loewer Studio Tour | UncommonGoodsWhat advice would you offer the you of 5 years ago?
Don’t under-price your work and don’t go to law school (I accidentally went to law school at night a few years ago but remained a glassblower with an expensive j.d.). Also, save more time for making artwork and new work that’s not already in your catalog. (That last one’s for the me of today.)

How do you set goals for yourself?
I make a shipping schedule as far in advance as I can based on wholesale orders, I write lots of lists and occasionally do things on them.

How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
I try to celebrate victories and failures equally by spending time with my family, drinking bourbon, and eating out here in Philly.

Jim Loewer Studio Tour | UncommonGoodsWhat quote keeps you motivated? What does that quote mean to you?
I’m not so much of a quote guy, but here a few I like and maybe you can help me decide which one works best
“Most things don’t stay the way they are very long.”
― Richard Ford,
“Some idiotic things are well worth doing.”
― Richard Ford,
We have art in order not to die of the truth.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Of all lies, art is the least untrue.
Gustave Flaubert

What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
The aesthetic of most of my work is pretty organic and purposely non-uniform. I’m trying to get better at some of the basic old school glass blowing techniques that I kind of skipped over when I started making art -like making uniform wine and martini glasses. I’m just working on this through trial and error like I do with everything.

One of the best things about glassblowing for me is that I don’t think about it in terms of “perfecting a craft” but just using a medium, about which I can always learn new things, to execute new ideas.

Jim Loewer Studio Tour | UncommonGoodsHow do you recharge your creativity?
Read fiction or look at art that is not glass- like paintings, etc. Also bike riding, family, bourbon (see celebrations above).

Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I should do more of that- I’m a lone wolf.

Jim Loewer Collection | UncommonGoods