Friday, September 25, 2009

heather braun-dahl : artists who blog

Heather's website:
Heather's blog:
Heather's shop:

Why did you decide to start a blog?

I decided to start a blog as a way to document my own journey while also giving people the opportunity to get to know me in an uninvasive and yet authentic way, no matter where they were from. I really enjoy writing and taking photos of my inspiration and my work and decided that a blog would be a good format for me to put that together. I wasn't as concerned with having a huge readership, just wanting a bit of company along for the ride, especially during the times when I'm more isolated between the studio and at home.

How did you come up with the name of your blog?

Dahlhaus art is the official name I launched my website with around 2 years ago. I came up with the name because as both a ceramic artist and a painter I needed a way to link my work together under one roof, so to speak. An interest in the Bauhaus movement in art, design and architecture along with the root function of both painting and ceramics being for the home made a play-on-words that worked well with my last name too. It just made sense to use the same name for my blog.

How has blogging affected your work as an artist/designer?

Sometimes I catch myself with a running commentary going on in my head while I think of things to blog about during the day. Silly, I know, but I guess having a blog has made me more aware of my process while also giving me permission to present it to the world way before I ever would have before I had a blog. Process is always important and I've always felt that it was in the process that a lot of interesting bits happen in art. Often your audience just sees the final result and never the process and they miss out the in between stuff.

What are your favorite artist/designer blogs? Why?

I pop by the Sycamore Street Press and Lovely Design blog daily, more because I feel some sense of connection with who they are and what they post about than anything. I get a kick out of Whitney Smith's blog (this artists life) where she rants about the ins and outs of the studio potter's life- I can totally relate to some of it. I love seeing inspirational images of great blogs like design*sponge and Poppytalk, but also love reading smaller blogs by other designers and makers on occasion, just to see what they are up to and how they are managing to balance their lives.

Do you have any advice for artists/designers who are starting a blog?

I'm sure this has all been said before, but be yourself, try to blog about what you know- what concerns you and your work. Be consistent and blog every couple of days at least. If you aren't great at writing, take pretty pictures, blog about other artists and highlight your successes and blog about your failures. Other artists will be sure to come by and check out your work if you are consistent in this. Broadening your community should be what having a blog is about at the get go, the sales will follow after time!

What has been the most positive and inspirational aspect of having a blog for you?

I would have to say just seeing where I've come from this past year and where I'm going. I now have a record of past goals turning into reality on my blog, and when I'm feeling particularily frustrated or low, I've been able to look back on the year and celebrate the big and little things that came my way.

What do you find the most difficult/most rewarding part of having a creative profession?

Well off the top, I would have to say the most difficult thing is the lack of consistent income and sales compared with the high cost of running and keeping up a creative profession. To sell what a person makes actually costs a lot of money, whether it be the costs of online shops, the costs of materials and space to make what you sell, the costs of doing art and craft shows, or the 50% cut the galleries take, it all adds up! In other words, there's not a lot left over for a pay check at the end of the day and this can be really discouraging some times.

The most rewarding part of a creative profession would be to be approached by someone who owns your work and have them tell you they use my mug or bowl every day, that it doesn't even get to the dishwasher and that they fight with other family members over who gets to use their mug. I also really appreciate hearing from people that they've never seen work like mine around- that they've seen a lot of pottery out there, but none like mine, and that it's really lovely. Yay, that's what I was going for!

Other than your blog, what has been the most effective way for you to promote your art/design?

Online the most effective way for me to promote my work are on other blogs- be it to be on some design blogs or online markets. I was able to be on Poppytalk Handmade a few times and have seen a difference in my online exposure. Articles and interviews also help, I'm sure ads on prominent blogs would make a difference but my advertising budget is pretty low still. I send out emails to my contacts quarterly, telling them about up-coming shows and sales, and just meeting people face to face at exhibits and shows, or out and about lays the groundwork for up-coming sales.

How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

Having kids has forced me not to become a complete studio recluse, at the same time, I find my stress level with having time to maintain a healthy studio practice and business a lot higher because of the balancing act that I'm on. I can't do it all, and sometimes I realize I'm trying too hard to do too many things and something's got to give. This year I've specifically stepped back from painting to focus on ceramics, but maybe in a couple of years it will switch. My kids are in Kindergarten and grade 2 this year, so next year when they are both in school for full 5-6 hour days, my balancing act will change once again.

What would you like to accomplish by the end of 2009?

Outside of some financial goals that I have (completely pay off my Visa bill and pay myself a decent paycheque every month), I am working towards a magazine feature, and some of my work being published. I just got the news that my work will be part of a large contemporary ceramics book that will come out next year sometime and that's been great news for me! I've been deliberately getting professional photos done of my work every 6 months or so, with books and publishing in mind, so I'm excited about keeping at this.

I would like to finish some paintings this year that I've started, but we'll see if I get some time in to do that. I have a number of shows lined up for the season and have high hopes of being ultra prepared with lots of stock for the winter rush, so that is pretty foremost in my mind!

Thanks Heather! Best of luck in all of your upcoming endeavors :)

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