We had the good fortune of connecting with Erin West and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Erin, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Go with the flow. The very first outdoor market that I did was on a particularly windy day. Pieces were being blown over and shattering and I remember just picking them up and moving on. Ceramics is a feisty medium. It loves to bend just right and do exactly what you wanted it to; but it also loves to crack, break and even explode in the kiln. When that happens, I usually sigh, smash it and then move on. Every mishap is an opportunity to grow, learn from a mistake and keep moving forward.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have always had a need to use my hands to create things. My ceramics are inspired by my encounters and experiences in everyday life. I combine form and function to make extraordinary versions of ordinary objects. There is something so gratifying about using a material from the earth to create something solid, that can be used and appreciated. My earliest memories of being creative were in my grandmothers sewing room, which was filled with various materials, supplies, scraps and sparkles. We would glue, sew and paint our project into existence and that process would fill me up. I explored many facets of the arts before zeroing in on ceramics, including teaching high school art. Right before my twins were born, I traded my classroom for my studio, and officially started Erin West Ceramics. My biggest challenge has been learning to balance being a mom while running a business. I have three young daughters who love to “help” and almost always ask for a piece of clay to sculpt something with. In the early days, I did every bit of ceramic work after bedtime or during the elusive naptime. Now that they are older, it has been a joy to teach them about ceramics and so cool to watch them explore art in their own way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Menas, Manny’s, Matt’s. Cane Rosso. And the Arboretum.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to give my shoutout to my husband, David. We often joke that he is my intern because he does a lot of the behind the scenes work, in addition to his own job. When I first started out, he handled all of the shipping and photographing, editing and uploading. He is my biggest supporter and still acts really excited when I give him a bowl or something that didn’t turn out exactly right.