Glass artist Cheryl Sattler shares her portfolio and thoughts on creativity, community, and business.
ABI: Tell us about your studio technique.
CS: My technique is very much my own. I should probably think up a name for it, although I tend to call it quilted glass, or bumpy glass. Texture is very important to me – I love it when folks reach out and touch my glass, because I understand all the taboos that they have to overcome to do it. They just can’t resist and that makes me happy.
I have been very fortunate to study with many incredible glass artists, and so I have quite a portfolio of techniques that I draw on. I make multi-layered pieces and use a little of this, a little of that, stitching it all together into my art. I would like to add that, although I draw on the techniques I have learned over the years, I like to let them simmer in the back of my mind for a while until they come back out in a way that is clearly my own interpretation.
I absolutely do not believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I push and blend and stretch until I have made something new. It makes me crazy when I walk into a gallery and see someone selling projects that are exactly what they learned in a class. Do something different! Make it your own! Back to the quilting analogy, I think of my Grandmother, who took bits and pieces of my old clothing for her materials, but the finished product was absolutely and beautifully her own creation.
ABI: What is your goal for the upcoming year?
CS: I love making glass – any kind of glass. But my heart is really in my one-of-a-kind pieces. I recently had a show of pieces that I thought of as “my Florida,” and that was really terrific. The pieces feature tropical leaves, underwater scenes, and various trees that we have here – live oaks and mangrove.
I am incredibly influenced by the natural world, and as a native Floridian there is a lot to draw on. I particularly love trees – I spent much of my girlhood reading under or in trees and they have such incredible soul – and texture! I’m now working on a series of landscapes and some sculptural work inspired by children’s books. I would very much like to find some galleries that would carry this work. I need to establish some new relationships.
ABI: You have been involved in a local artist’s group. What is your experience there?
CS: It is so important that artists know other artists. We are out there dealing with criticism, and rejection – and triumphs too – and we need each other. This group has artists at all stages of their careers, from having had one class to exhibiting at some of the biggest art events in the country.
We are currently putting together a local show, and it is so hard to balance the ideas of participation (everyone should have a chance) and jurying (only the best work should be in the show.) Less-experienced artists are impatient, but one lesson to learn is that rejection is one way we improve, as long as it becomes an opportunity for growth. Nobody improves by simply being accepted into every show.
I am in a Facebook group on glass, and it bothers me that often, the first question a person asks about their new work is how to price it – not whether it’s good, not color or composition or design, but price. It’s so important to focus on quality. Yes, we need to sell our work – but that shouldn’t be the first concern.
ABI: What did you gain from attending The Arts Business Institute workshops?
CS: I attended two ABI workshops, when I was first starting out. I’m sure I need to attend another as I am at a different stage in my career now! It’s hard to boil down everything I learned – it was a lot!
Among other things, I learned how to start taking credit cards, the importance of creating materials to go with my art that tell my story, what it means to wholesale work rather than selling retail, and the importance of having work in various price points. There are some things I learned there that I am still working on, like booth design and marketing. I’m sure I wouldn’t be wholesaling today without ABI.