In a world that seems to favor
the fast and the cheap, it can
be difficult to sustain a career
as a maker of handmade objects.
In fact, I think artists work
harder than anyone I know to
sustain their careers. Even with
a successful exhibition career,
a teaching gig, and selling her
pots, Molly Hatch was familiar
with these issues.
Then she got a very intriguing email. The major retailer Anthropologie was
interested in partnering with her to produce a line of dinnerware for the store.
And suddenly Molly had found herself in another role: pottery designer
(and fabric designer, and gift tag designer, and upholstery designer, and
more!) In today’s post, Molly explains how this turn of events came about
and gives advice for other potters hoping to receive similar emails!
– Jennifer Harnetty, editor.
Since my mugs hit shelves at Anthropologie stores in July of 2011, many people in our ceramics community have been openly curious about how they too might turn their handmade pots into designer products. This has been a challenging question for me to answer. Usually the first question I am asked about working with Anthropologie is about how the store found my work. I had assumed that I was found through a blog posting or through my Etsy shop, but it turned out it was a buyer who saw my work at Greenwich
House Pottery in New York and made an internal
recommendation for a tabletop buyer to look me up.
So they find artists the same way you or I might. Buyers go to major
art fairs and craft shows and they travel a lot looking for new and
interesting products. Whenever they visit cities, they do extensive
research about the local art community, art events, and gallery
openings. Often studio visits or gallery visits are set up in advance
to see as much work in person as possible.
It is important to understand
the many different ways that
artists work with any retailer.
The way I have been working
with Anthropologie, for the
most part, is as a product
designer. I bring prototypes
to their production team
and the product is
manufactured with help from
Anthropologie. More recently,
I have evolved into working
as a surface designer in
throughout the company.
Most commonly, artists work with Anthropologie as vendors, hand making
work for Anthropologie to retail in their stores and online. Occasionally
Anthropologie buyers will purchase flatwork (like paintings and drawings)
in order to bring them back to their design team and work with the artwork
as a surface for anything from tableware to fabrics.
So, really, the process for being “discovered” is no different than
developing a career as a ceramic artist. My advice to readers
pursuing a career as a designer is no different than advice I might give
to readers seeking a successful career showing work as an artist. Make
good work and be open minded to alternative ways of making your work,
and the rest will simply follow.
To learn more about Molly Hatch or see more images of her work, please