Keep trying wild things - Pots by Andrea

The power of creation. Do we often question ourselves from where it comes? When was our first beginning? Or do we cover our skills with everyday tasks and suppress them deep in unconsciousness. Many people around the world go to their infamously known nine-to-five job and feel a lack of excitement in their life. Like destiny tricked us, and here we are feeling a little bit lost. How do we get back on track? And is there a track for us? In that journey of tripping on questions, we like to question more! To talk with inspiring people, who generously share their life stories. 

Where are you from? Where does the art journey start for you?

I have lived in Michigan my whole life. I currently reside just outside of Grand Rapids, but my clay journey began in the small farm town of Hopkins. I grew up on 70 acres of land which included woods, swamps, a lake, and one amazing source of natural clay. I was constantly sitting on the ground with a bucket and metal spoon in hand, scooping up as much clay as I could and making little pots and sculptures from it. I always imagine how awesome it would be to visit my 8-year-old self and tell her that she was in the beginnings of something so great. I had no idea what was to come!


Fast forward to my college days, where I was required to take an intro to Ceramics course to complete my Art Education degree. I was not prepared for how hard I was about to fall in love with Ceramics. I hadn't touched clay in years and never had any formal education in it, but when I did it was like everything in my life just lined up - my childhood, my passions and desires, and my plans for the future. I continued taking classes all the way through the advanced level, falling deeper and deeper in love with clay in the process. I still graduated with my degree in Art Education but have yet to use it. I jumped headfirst into creating and selling pottery as soon as I graduated and I couldn't wish for anything more.


What is the inspiration behind your designs? Each one of us sees the world through separate lenses. How hard is it to transfer it to other people?

I am very much a houseplant hobbyist. I have over 50 plants at home! My current designs came to be because I am a huge succulent fan, but I cannot for the life of me keep one alive. Creating them in ceramic form was my solution to my own problem, but others seemed to love it as much as I did.


Ceramic succulents are never alive in the first place, so I can't possibly kill them (and neither can any of my not-so-green thumb customers). Obviously, not everyone sees or understands the story behind my work but that's not important to me. I just love creating beautiful things that bring smiles to the people that see and use them. Simple as that.


When it comes to making a living from your art, what are the main struggles? And what would be your advice for starting artists?

The biggest struggle is not having a sure or steady income. You truly have no idea when your pieces will sell, or if they'll even sell at all. It takes such courage to put your creations out there and hope that people like them enough to buy them. I'm so grateful to be in a place where all of my work is selling quite fast, but this was not the case when I was starting out. My style was all over the place and I was just experimenting and playing with new techniques in as many ways as I could.

While this phase of any artist's career might not yield in many fans or sales, it's absolutely essential. My best advice to anyone starting out is to just play. Keep trying wild things until you find a style that you love so much that you want to apply it over and over again. Chances are that if you love it that much, others will too, and that's where a lucrative art career begins.


Which do you prefer, single pieces or storytelling through a whole project? And what approach do you use in each case?

I only make single pieces, and over 95% of the time they are mugs. I feel that each piece speaks for itself and can bring comfort and joy to its owner. My approach is always the same: just let my creativity flow! I rarely have a design in mind when I start creating. This results in many one-of-a-kind pieces. I think they're more special that way.

Why do you use certain materials? What connects you with them and makes you feel they are perfect for your work?

I prefer to keep my materials pretty simple in order to show off their natural beauty. I use white stoneware clay, mason stains, and clear glaze. I work with stoneware because it contains natural speckles that feel very earthy to me. I have a hard time covering that natural beauty with anything but a simple clear glaze. From the start, my mission has been to transform earth's natural materials into intimate objects for everyday life. I feel that keeping my work natural ties into my mission well. 


What does ART, in general, mean to you?

To me, art is the application of imagination. Artists live in a world where we can make almost anything we wish existed. Our art gives us a chance to let others step into our imagination and leave with something tangible. Perhaps something tangible that won't wilt away when it isn't taken care of properly (oops).


We invite you to dare. To explore your talents and open new horizons in your life. Start with small things. Try to remember what made you happy as a child. What had the possibility to fixate all of your attention and keep you in one place for hours. That could be a place of fun, a place of happiness and excitement. That could be your special trait and your ticket to personal success. Bring happiness into your life, because at the end of the day, that's the only thing we need...

The FOURLINEdesign team would like to thank Andrea Burns for sharing inspiring thoughts with our community.