"I make pottery because I believe in a return to a simpler time when life wasn't so complicated by technology, society, and politics." Trista Hudzk Reynolds, artist statement.
Hello Spatulans. Today, it's my pleasure to introduce to you one of my favorite artists: Trista Hudzik Renolds. The 34-year-old professional potter from Ashville, N.C. lives in Beaufort, N.C. with her husband and owns a pottery studio at the corner of Live Oak and Ann Streets. A North Carolinian potter since 2001, her work is not only useful, from juice cups to honey pots, it is delicate and beautiful. Her work, inspired by nature and folklore, is colored with happiness. I once had the pleasure of being in an art show with her last year and have since tried to keep an eye on her projects and newest pieces (stalker-like, of course, via her blog, Facebook, and Wix). I hope you find Trista and her work as inspiring as I do. Please to Enjoy.
Tell us what you do.
THR: I play with clay. More specifically, turn dirt into stuff you can use!
How did become a potter?
THR: Accidentally. I mean, all artists know they want to be an artist when they grow up. The question is how do you pick a focus, and how do you make it work? I stumbled into pottery while working towards my BFA at UNC-Greensboro. I took it as an elective, but I knew immediately and instinctively that [pottery] was going to be the rest of my life. Sometimes I think it picked me. Or maybe it was fate, either way I am pretty sure we were destined to be together.
How did you get started?
THR: I started slow. Nick [my husband] gave me my wheel for Christmas one year, my slab roller the next, and my extruder the next. My mom gave me a scale one year or a banding wheel the next. When I finished school [pottery] was just what I had to do. No questions. I never even thought there might be another option. Not everyone I finished school with followed though. Most people didn’t. I was determined. I had tons of support and encouragement. Mostly from nick, but also from his parents and mine. I’ve done a lot of networking which helps too. Going to Penland helped a lot. Meeting lots of new people always opens up new doors. It’s been tough though. We make a lot of sacrifices and it takes so much self motivation. Especially when you live at the beach. But now, every time we move our question is, “where do we put the kiln,” or “where will the studio be.” It’s just a way of life. Sometimes we put more into it than we get out, financially, but intellectually and emotionally, its priceless ♥.
What is your education back ground?
THR: Bachelor of fine arts with a concentration in design from UNC-Greensboro, 2001. Associates Degree in Professional Crafts in Clay from Haywood Community College, 2006. Penland School of Craft, fall concentration, 2007. Many and multiple workshops.
Had you always wanted to be an artist?
THR: Absolutely! Or a vet or a writer or miss America. But, I think I have found my calling.
What inspires you as an artist?
THR: Oh my goodness! So many things! I could go on for days. The short answer: Nature is definitely my biggest influence. Folk-art is also pretty important to me. I love that folk-art is morphing in modern day in a lot of unusual ways. I love street art and graphic art and simple beautiful things.
What inspires your work?
THR: As a potter, food is big. I think, “What can I put in here?” or “How can I make food be extra yummy to my eyes?”
What is your work ethic?
THR: I set weekly studio hours, kind of like a 9 to 5, but I definitely put in a lot of overtime. I love what I do and that’s good because you have to work hard to make a living at it. I try really hard to give it all I've got, push myself to do as much as I can. At the same time I try to be really aware of overdoing it. It’s really important that I try to reward myself for my hard work and allow myself to take an afternoon off just because it’s awesome outside.
How often do you create a new piece?
THR: As a production potter, I make a lot pots every day.
What motivates you to do art?
THR: Instinct. Love. To quote Ani di Franco, “Art is why I get up in the morning. My definition ends there….”. I love that.
How do you push yourself to create something when you are unmotivated?
THR: Often, I take a little time to look at other people’s art that I greatly admire.
Is there any thing or person you aspire to be?
THR: When I was at Haywood community college I was asked that question. My response was, “I just want to be respected by my peers as a really good potter”. I think that still holds true.
What goals do you have for yourself?
THR:I am constantly setting goals. Usually short-term goals such as “make such and such of something by this time” or “Approach this gallery or these galleries by that time”.
How do you work towards these goals?
THR: I am definitely the kind of person who lives in the moment. So I don’t plan very far ahead. I try to set attainable short-term goals that lead to bigger goals down the road. I see these short-term goals in the context of the larger goals.
What is the biggest hurdle to creating and being an artist?
THR: Balance. Art is all consuming, especially when you choose it as a career. Marketing and things such as my blog and my etsy page take me away from the studio a lot. Sometimes it’s hard to balance regular life and responsibilities, not to mention a home, a family, friends, exercise and hobbies all the while trying to make a living. You are so passionate about it; it’s hard to know when to slow down.
Are there any preconceived notions about young artists that you have encountered?
THR: That [being an artist] “must be really fun,” and oh my god it is! It’s amazing. However, it’s a ton of work. It is a REAL job. We put in a million hours of our heart and our soul and our sweat and our tears and our elation and our disappointment. You are never “done” with a piece. You are never satisfied with yourself. And that drives us to eat, sleep, dream art. It’s everywhere. It’s everything.
Do you have another job?
THR: When [my husband and I] moved to Beaufort from Asheville I had to take a second job. I bartend a couple of nights a week at the local cocktail-eria.
How do you make time for creativity and art in your life?
THR: For me, that’s the easy part, but I still try to make time to make art other than pottery and that is always a struggle.
What is the hardest part about being an artist?
THR: Making a living and having a life and not feeling guilty about either one.
What is the best part about being an artist?
THR: Helping to make the world a more beautiful place.
How do you relieve stress that may build up from daily life or being an artist?
THR: Get outside. There is nothing better than good old-fashioned vitamin D. Spend time with the people I love. Go for a Run.
Do you have any words of wisdom for someone who might want to do the same sort of thing or for young artists who are struggling with their dreams?
THR: NUMBER ONE: Stick with it! NUMBER 2: Don’t pigeonhole yourself into one medium. Try as many things as you possible can before you try to settle on one.