Ceramic artist Judi Tavill shares her intriguing portfolio of sculpture inspired by the sea.
ABI: Tell us about your background and how it has affected your ceramic work today.
JT: My background as a fashion designer and textile print artist has had various effects on my ceramic work. I create a vessel or sculptural form and alter it much in the manner that an apparel designer would work on a figure form or model, draping and detailing directly on the garment. Pattern and texture found in both textiles and nature strongly influences my clay work. Additionally, I tend to work in subtly differentiated series, much like the fashion designer develops seasonal lines that continue to reflect the “look” of their label.
Initially, as a ceramic artist, I rebelled against the creation of a “product“ to appeal to a “target market” as that was stressed so strongly in my design career. I feel now that while my art continues to evolve, it must ultimately appeal to my collectors. I work to generate fresh ideas while staying within the framework of my unique aesthetic.
ABI: What would you recommend to artists who want to create a body of work that sells?
JT: I believe the most important thing to focus on when moving your art out into the world is reaching the people that are truly attracted to what you are creating. This means understanding who they are and bringing your art to them, virtually or tangibly. The artist must truly work to determine this and gear all marketing to these people specifically.
This seems so obvious and yet, artists will continue to present work at venues and to groups of people that are simply not a match. Rather than view this negative interaction as “rejection”, the artist should move on to focus on their true collector base. This may require research and thinking “out of the box” but I feel that is the ultimate way to reach your distinct, appreciative collector base.
My current work has a modern coastal feel so the group I will focusing on serving is those that have interest in this aesthetic: collectors in beach communities, decorators and those working with contemporary décor in a coastal setting, and vacationers who desire to collect memories in the form of art objects.
ABI: What are your thoughts about your customers becoming collectors and curators of art?
JT: I believe in creating a symbiotic relationship between the collector (customer) and the artist (gallerists, designers and decorators, or boutique sales people act as a conduit). I support the idea of including the collector in the process of curating their own unique collection. I have watched people that may have limited creative outlets express intense interest as they pick and choose and rearrange my ceramic sculptural objects. When their involvement is encouraged, they are able to truly feel included in the creative process. This connection is especially important to me.
Additionally, as a collector appreciates or learns to appreciate the art, I like to find ways to show my appreciation for them. I often request photographs of the art in their home in support of their involvement. This acknowledgement builds a respect and a relationship of value. Ultimately, the collector, along with their knowledge and love of the art, becomes a spoke on a wheel that reaches out to potential collectors in the greater world.