Please welcome potter and artist, Cynthia Vardhan! Cynthia’s from Columbus, OH, and she’s been working with clay since she was 13 years old. She loves to create gorgeous little pieces adorned with textured patterns: a delight to the eye and the touch. Today she offers us a behind-the-scenes peek at her creative business. Enjoy the interview!
You do gorgeous work: your creations are absolutely stunning. How long have you been working in ceramics?
I’ve been making pottery since I was thirteen- 1993. I steadily grew more interested in it and went professional after grad school- about 2002.
Your first Etsy sale took place on December 6, 2006, which makes you quite the Etsy veteran. You also sell your ceramics in galleries and stores, where did your first sale take place?
First sale took place in high school at our art class’s end of the year sale. It was a pretty awesome yellow vase, I remember.
And, can you remember what that first sale felt like for you?
It was a feeling of validation- that someone other than my mom liked my work and that it would go on to live in someone’s house. Ceramic is such a permanent material- that vase could potentially last thousands of years! It’s just a matter of how it’s owned and cared for.
In the last two years, your work has been featured in House Beautiful, Parents Magazine, Southern Living, and online at prestigious websites, such as Design*Sponge.
Can you tell us a little bit about how some of these opportunities came about? Did you have an active role in spreading the word about your business, or does this press come just because you create amazing art?
Some press comes from exposure on etsy. Some comes from reporters seeing me at shows. Some press comes as a result of other press. The big magazines I either contacted directly, or last year, I hired a PR professional for a few months to pitch to even more press. That helped a lot, and I may do it again this summer. It’s tricky since some outlets want to be the first & only to show your work where as others don’t mind as much.
Please describe your “zone.” What’s the atmosphere like in your studio? And what’s the mood when you’re creating?
While throwing the pieces on the wheel, it’s quite intense. I don’t even need music or any distractions at all since that’s when the important decisions about shapes are made. The decorating phase is much more laid back where I can listen to documentaries, books on tape, or even have friends over to chat while working. It’s also important for me to have a very neat and clean studio- I can’t work in clutter and dust bunnies. And I need a green view- my last studio was in the attic in the trees, my current studio overlooks my garden.
In your artistic career, what has been your proudest moment?
My proudest moment was speaking to a class at the prestigious Central Saint Martins Ceramic Design course in London. It is a program that I had always wanted to attend, so visiting it and speaking to the faculty and students was definitely the highlight so far.
What has been your biggest waste of time or money in business?
Let’s say I haven’t perfected the art of mass direct mail yet…. Or perhaps that’s not the best way to garner sales. Developing sincere relationships with store owners and other artisans seems to be the best way to go.
What is the one biggest tip you would offer to handmade artists just starting out and looking for their first sale?
I’d say start small- local events with low booth/table fees can be great. Some of the shows that still give me the best return on investment are the ones in town, or at most 2 hours away. And those events can lead to later sales on etsy, so it’s a cycle of sales, shows, and exposure that builds a craft/art business.
Thank you, Cynthia! That’s excellent advice, and this has been lovely. Dear readers, you can find Cynthia and her work online at www.cynthiavardhan.com and shop her ceramics on Etsy. Until next time and all the best~