Art & Life with Laura Jones Martinez

Interview with Voyage Phx Magazine

Today we’d like to introduce you to Laura Jones Martinez.

Laura, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve been making ceramics for about 4 years. I started down this venture as a hobby, but it’s gotten to where half of my week or more is spent making or shipping ceramics. When I moved from TX to AZ, I lucked into a great studio space. At that time, a design client commissioned some illustrated plates from me and when they were done, I put them up on my Instagram. A bunch of friends and family members started requesting them, and I began selling on Etsy and marketing through Instagram. It grew from there.

I eventually bought my own kiln and experimented with different types of clay and learning new methods of hand-building. My style and products have evolved, but I can still see myself in even the earliest iterations of my products. I enjoy using bright colors and am inspired by the desert and my background as a designer.

I consider myself more of a designer than a ceramic artist, maybe it’s that I suffer from a bit of imposter syndrome because I only took one year of ceramics in college. Either way, after a day of being in front of a screen, it feels really good to be out in my workshop playing with clay. I love trying out new ideas and my favorite part of the process is still the surprise of opening up the kiln after it’s cooled.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I make ceramics using a style called hand-building, which is more of a sculptural technique and not done on the wheel. I create pieces for jewelry display or storage, wall hangings, and mugs and dishes. I recently started making commissioned face mugs (I call them Mug Mugs) where I take your pet or loved one and make a caricature of them on a mug. It’s totally weird and silly, and definitely not for everyone, but I’m pretty weird and silly and that’s the kind of thing that catches my eye. I enjoy putting humor into my work. Plus, I sometimes just need a break from all the cacti!

My most popular item is my cactus ring holder. I make hundreds of them during the year, there’s something sort of nice and methodical about building them. I get into the zone and before I know it, I’ve made 30. When they’re fired and ready to be glazed is when I really have fun with them. I do a bunch of different styles and color combinations.

There’s a lot of love and time that goes into making them and I think that people see that. The entire process takes several weeks and 3 firings in the kiln. I think that’s the thing I hope people take away from my work is the joy I had making it. People tell me when they walk by the item I’ve made or use it in their day-to-day, that it brings them happiness – that’s really the best compliment for me.

Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
Well, like most things, there’s good and bad about the conditions in today’s art community. There are so many different platforms to share, sell or promote your work. Artisans today are not limited by traditional methods of promotion like getting an agent or hustling to get into a gallery. I’ve also seen that the internet has made finding one’s craft/artist community SO much easier and it’s also helped the growth of physical spaces for people to get together and make. Not that these spaces didn’t exist before, but the ability to connect has definitely helped.

The constant need for artists and other entrepreneurs to share can really be exhausting. I spend a lot of time re-learning and strategizing how to use all of the apps and online platforms. It’s like another part of the job of being an artist now, instead of just creating. I think this is where physical spaces really are important, where people can create, build relationships and collaborate not just online but in person.

Cities can invest in the art community. It doesn’t necessarily need to be financially, but making sure art is considered a priority for residents of all ages, both creating and engaging with art. That can mean creating spaces and events for artists and residents to engage with different types of art, but it can also mean investing in classes or making public art a priority when infrastructure is updated or renovated.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I sell on my own website, on Etsy, my shop name is LauraJonesMartinez, and I will also be doing a few local markets this holiday season, the big one being Phoenix Flea! I’m so excited to be a vendor there, this is the second time I’ve sold at the Flea and I’m really looking forward to it. If you’re wanting to see the latest things I’m working on or find out about what’s new in my world, the best place is my Instagram feed.

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