5 questions with the namesake artist behind Etsy shop Whitney Smith Pottery
Where do you get your design inspiration? Are there any hints of the Western lifestyle in your aesthetic?
I think my work expresses a natural and organic aesthetic in keeping with the lifestyle of the West. My design inspiration is derived primarily from nature, I’m obsessed with flowers, leaves, trees, birds, insects. I also like things to be useful, so my designs are based on items we use in everyday life.
Where does the magic happen? Describe your work space.
My studio is a 600-square-foot storefront that used to be a beauty parlor back in the day. It has very high ceilings and lots of light. I painted it green many years ago, so it has a serene feel. The front of the studio has a small display area along with my two throwing wheels and drying racks. The back of my studio is dedicated to my kilns and a glazing area. This part of the studio also gets transformed in a pack-and-ship room a couple of times a week. I have a huge rack of all my different sized boxes and giant rolls of bubble wrap. It’s a little crowded and there is no wasted space! I would love another 500 square feet but my studio is less than a block from my house so I’m very reluctant to relocate.
How did you learn your craft? Any advice for how aspiring artisans can get started?
I took my first pottery classes at Cabrillo Community College in Santa Cruz. I had a fantastic teacher, Dan Martinez, who nurtured me along for a couple of years. I then worked for another ceramic artist, Sandi Dihl, who taught me a lot about production and creating collections of work. I always recommend that artists who are interested in going into business for themselves find a job working for another artist in a similar field.
Describe your favorite or best piece. Did you sell it or keep it or gift it?
Naming my favorite piece would be like saying that I love one of my children more than the others. I always have an evolving sense of what is my “best” or favorite pieces, so I can’t say I have just one. I usually give them to my mom or dad for safekeeping. Selling them is hard because once that piece is sold, it’s gone forever!
What’s your favorite Etsy shop, other than your own?
I have a lot of favorites. There are so many talented people on Etsy. Some of my super favorites are Elsita, Sophie Backall, Neile, Mister Rob, CrankBunny, Ureshii, and Theater Clouds.