November 10, 2010

creation and connection: meet angelique

I have just finished up a pottery class with angelique tassistro and was so impressed by her, and her unique sense of style, that I wanted to feature her here. I asked her to look at her life and work through the four lenses of restoration, reflection, creation, and connection. If you are in the Asheville area this weekend make sure to stop by her studio and meet her yourself during the River District Studio Stroll. In addition to her remarkable collection, she will be serving up PBRs and cupcakes.


R&G: how does your work restore you?
This is a hard question for me, I’m not sure if my work restores me as much as it completes me. It is the way I express myself and with out it I feel not myself. Clay work in a way is “needy”, having it in my life gives me a deep focus.

R&G:what do you do to restore yourself so that you don't experience burn out?
For me it’s about constantly being aware of the balance (or the lack of) in my life. Clay is so time consuming and can be all encompassing, it is very easy for me to lose myself in my work. Days, weeks and even years can fly by without any thought to the other things in life. Setting a work schedule and forcing myself to do other activities I enjoy helps me create balance. I find I am not only more productive but my work is stronger and I feel happier. After years of telling my self “I will only work like this until this show is done or this deadline is meet”. I realized there will always be another show, two more applications and yet another deadline. I had to create a firm rule for myself...I find creating balance is much more difficult that creating art.


R&G: When you reflect on your journey, what moments stick out as turning points?
Moving to Asheville (from Atlanta) was a huge turning point for me. I had no doubt I was moving to work with clay but really had no idea of the details. I had a studio offered to me but had to relearn the process. It’s so different from being in school. There are so many things we take for granted. Having a studio to work in sounded amazing but I quickly realized that I no longer had access to that amazing studio with endless supplies and generous people willing to feed you information. It took me a good year to get my bearings again. I spent two days throwing cylinders and cutting them in half to see how thick they were. It’s what we did in my very first pottery class. I think I mentally had to start over to remember all I had learned.

R&G: what mistakes have you made that you would want other creative types to know about so they can prevent them?

Art can be a career and a successful one at that. Just because one decides to take art as a career does not mean you have to work three jobs and sacrifice things that are important in life.

R&G: what has surprised you?
The amazing support I have received from my friends, family & the community.

R&G: where are you headed?
I’m not sure. Art will always be apart of my life but I do feel the need to help people in a way I’m not doing now. I have toyed with the idea of being a life coach for emerging artistic individuals seeking creative jobs but am not sure how to do it. I think I would be good at it and it would be very rewarding.


R&G:think about your creative process, what steps do you have to take in order to be able to generate a new idea/line of work/etc...?
I try to just let things happen naturally, not just with clay but also with life. The best way to explain it is by using an example: I make flower scalloped dinner plates, I still make them and love them. One day I decided it would be cool if they hung on the wall so that they can be used for decoration when they are not being eaten off, then after that worked out I decided I should make three different sizes, connect them and add some wire. It never occurred to me that I was making a new line of work, but it happened and now I make functional flower dinner plates and decorative wall flowers.

R&G think about your most creative moments- what are the factors at play?
Traveling is a huge passion of mine. I am such a visual person, seeing new places stimulates my mind. I always return to the studio with fresh ideas and lots of energy.

R&G: does your creativity show up for you when you want it to or does it visit on its own schedule?
My most creative moments often come in the form of problem solving. I always strive to make things better than before, so things just seem to evolve into something new. It is a struggle to be creative on demand but I just try to be gentle on myself. I don’t have to recreate the wheel everyday, some days it is perfectly acceptable to just make sure it goes around and around. … meaning busy work is still work. A clay studio has many things to do that require zero creativity.

R&G think about how you are connecting to the world around you.
who is inspiring you?

Recently I have gotten slightly obsessed with business and find myself reading success stories of young entrepreneurs. Tony Hsieh is pretty high on my list currently, what he did with Zappos is super cool. Not just how successful it is as a business, but the model itself, and how employees are treated. I love that by empowering employees they want to be & do better.

R&G do you reach out for help? for ideas? where? how often?
OMG… I ask for help daily. My friends and family are amazing and endlessly come to help. If not painting numbers on tiles, creating a post card or some other computer hick up I’m having then it’s making cupcakes for a studio stroll. With out my “support” gang I’m not sure I would have a strength to push through the hard times. I am so grateful for the people in my life.

thanks angelique. i will post some photos soon of what she helped me to create in her class. i will say, it isn't as easy as it looks! can't wait for the next class though.

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