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  • Emma Schad

Interview with Kate Schroeder

1. How did you decide on your subject matter of succulents and cacti? Do they symbolize something important in your life?

I started making my succulent work when I began to feel stuck in a rut of making a production line of functional pottery. I was tired of making the same work over and over again. I wanted to make one of a kind pieces that felt more authentic to me as a person than my production line felt. I chose to make the succulent work because around the same time, my mother was very ill and I wanted to pay homage to her through a subject matter that connected us. The subject matter that came to mine immediately was plants. This subject matter runs deep in our family history. My great grand mother earned a PHD in Botany in the early 1930's (which was almost unheard of at the time) and my mother and grandmother owned a flower shop all though out my childhood.

2. How long did it take you to develop your ceramics style, and how many tests do you think you’ve gone through to get the right results?

My style is constantly growing, changing. I have had several major bodies of work in my career, and each of them is unique in their own way. Even if none of these bodies of work look similar to one another, they are all related and build off of one another. I love changing my work to something that hardly resembles the works that I previously made. It helps me from getting bored / stuck in a rut (see above) and helps to expand my technical knowledge. I see every piece that I make as a test in some ways, and I always think the most recent piece is better than the previous. As far as how long it took to develop the succulent works... This has been an ongoing evolution since February of 2017.

3. Why did you choose ceramics as your medium/ what is its significance in comparison to other media you’ve worked with?

I have been working with clay longer than any other material. I started sculpting with oven-baked clay when I was 10 years old. I moved to water based clay around the age of 16. My degrees are actually in sculpture though. I focused my energy on harder materials such as metal and wood throughout undergrad, and created mixed media sculpture with clay, paper, wax, wood and metal in grad school. I began focusing on functional works after I completed grad school. I have focused my energy primarily in clay since 2013.

4. How do you balance making and marketing your work on social media?

I try not to plan my social media at all, but when I am in making mode, I try to set aside at least 30 minutes a day to photograph a piece, and make a post about it. I almost always post what I am working on in the moment. When I post finished pieces, they usually are fresh out of the kiln. I rarely post old work unless it is around an exhibition.

5. What do you consider a successful artist to have done or be doing, and do you have any tips to be this definition of success?

Everyone has a different definition of success. For me, it is to sell my work and be fully self-employed. For others, it is a long list of exhibitions, and they don’t care if they have a job on the side or never sell their work. I suppose the best tip I have is to say successful artists shows their work. They get it out into the world one way or another. It’s hard to be successful in a visual media when no one sees it. So put it online, send it to a gallery, sell it at an art show, but no matter what, keep showing it to as many people as you can.

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