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Chatting with potter Katelyn Smith about her art, regarding expression and compassion.

Katelyn Smith, the creator of Drift Ceramics has been creating pottery seriously since 2015. Loving art ever since she could remember, drawing, painting, printmaking, she graduated university with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education.

“I couldn’t just choose one art form to specifically study, I wanted to do it all! However, I feel like my journey into pottery was a little backwards. It wasn’t a love at first sight kind of moment. In university, I sat down at my first pottery wheel…and hated it. I liked sculpting and hand building because I felt like I had more control. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to finally feel confident in my own work at the pottery wheel.”

After being hired for her first teaching position at a high school, they told her she would be teaching five classes of ceramics and only two painting and drawing. It was then that she really began to fall in love with the process of pottery.

Katelyn Smith featured in Merrymen Magazine


How do you measure success and what challenges have you had to overcome on your journey?

When I began creating for Drift, I had a vision of what I wanted to happen. As things have progressed, I am finding successes in ways I had never even thought of. And as I continue, I realize more and more to let things happen naturally and to not hold a tight grip on my expectations of what I think will happen. Success to me has always been pretty simple—I just want to be able to do what I love and create pieces for others that they love too.

In our world of constant sharing, I think it’s easy to compare yourself to other people and their successes. I didn’t realize how much heart I had put into what I was doing until I was about to share it—and then came the fear of, “what if no one likes what I make” or “what if this is not profitable to me to continue to do?” However, everyone’s journey is different and mine will most definitely look different than those around me. I had to remind myself that a lot in the beginning when I was still really nervous to be sharing what I make.

How does your brand philosophy and mission support you as a creative?

This was really important for me to nail down before I started my small business. I wanted to know why I was making things and who they would be for. Now, it’s a foundation and a source I regularly come back to as I continue to create, in my decision making processes, and how I market myself.

My hope is that the pieces I make help the user feel inspired with a sense of stillness.

Why do you feel it’s important to slow down, to feel, to share, and to relish in the moment?

I think it’s important to slow down, to feel, to share, and to relish in the moment because our attention and time is constantly being fought over by social media, phones, television, etc. Life is already busy and I think that often times we get robbed by these things and miss out on the simple beauties of being alive.

How did your passion towards ceramics develop, and what steps did you take in order to monetize your passion?

I think teaching really helped my love for ceramics evolve. Seeing the joy on the face of someone completely new to pottery as they turn what is essentially mud into a 3D, functional piece of art was so contagious. Pottery forces you to slow down, engages all of your senses (except maybe for taste…), demands that you are present with your artwork, and is one of the only art forms that readily allows the meeting of your left and your right brain. The world of ceramics is so huge and I don’t think I will ever stop learning new things; it became something I couldn’t stop thinking about.

Teaching was the first step that I took in monetizing this passion. And as I continued to teach, I yearned to create my own line of products. I still feel very new at monetizing my own work, but I created a website where I could sell my work, and I also participated in markets to help expose my work to a larger audience and grow my clientele.

Do you think compassion for art, creativity and handmade products are important? Why or why not?

I think this is incredibly important because we now live in a world where cheap mass production and getting what you want immediately is the new normal. This to me, can be so destructive. Not only for independent and small businesses, but for ourselves as consumers. It is more sustainable for artisans, to support small business, but also for the earth. How much more satisfying and rewarding is it to own something you know whose hands have created it and to see or understand the process of how it came to be. I am happy to see more people are realizing how big box and online stores deprive hard working people, and I have personally felt that love and support this past holiday season.

Do you believe that finding your life’s purpose is in your work?

I do believe that. I think that my work has evolved over time, and will continue to evolve, but that there is always a purpose behind it. Whether that is in teaching, creating, or sharing my story, I find more of myself and my purpose each time.

Drift Ceramics for Merrymen Magazine Volume 6 - Pottery by Katelyn Smith

What kind of growth and healing do you get from expressing yourself?

Art has always been a source of therapy for me, even when I didn’t realize it was. As I have focused my efforts on creating ceramic pieces for Drift, I have found a voice without having to say words. There is something so beautiful about the conversation between the clay and your hands.

It is a meditative process and I find I am able to drown out the outside world and center myself when I work with clay.

What would you like people to know about Drift Ceramics that they may not find with your online presence?

I would like people to know that so much love, care, thought and consideration is put into each piece that I make. And maybe that is something you can see on my online presence, but each are uniquely, intentionally and handcrafted with purpose. I always call the things I make clay bbs, because they each hold a piece of me in some way or another.

© 2021 Merrymen.

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