I’m back with Molly Sanyour, the elementary school art teacher and potter from Henrico County, VA who created the beautiful pieces of pottery that I picked up at the Farmers Market last weekend (check out that post here!). This time, she answered a few questions to let us into her world where she celebrates a fearless attitude of not allowing yourself to be discouraged by someone else’s expectations.
Molly responded to my questions via Facebook. Her enthusiasm for her artwork and the people she meets because of it was apparent.
TheCrownless: Did you always have a knack for art?
Molly Sanyour: Art was always my favorite subject since I was a kid, and if you ask me it was probably everyone else’s favorite subject too! I remember my art teacher introducing us to clay and it was simply the most fun thing ever! I would go in during recess to see if I could make things and work on various projects, and she was nice enough to let me! I finally got to high school where I never felt that I shined as an artist or that I should make art a focus, rather I was persuaded to drop art after taking it freshman and sophomore year. I remember along the way someone told me that if you can find something that makes you happy and make a job of it, well that’s the key to happiness.
Realizing that art (which, come on, who didn’t have the most fun in art class?) could be a major and taken seriously, I signed up for a wheel throwing class. I was so excited to finally pursue what really made me happy! I was really drawn to clay because I loved the idea that you can make whatever you want and then use it! Plus I love to entertain so the idea that I could make just the right sized serving dish or a platter just made me happy!
TC: As an artist who appears at Farmers Markets and similar venues, what would you say to the public to inspire them to buy from these types of artisan communities?
MS: I think if you are looking for art, Farmers Markets and art shows are the best way to go for the same reasons. Usually the artist is the one who runs the booth, so you get to meet them and learn about them which makes their art even cooler! You get the best prices as well. Galleries usually tack on an additional 30/40%! As it turns out, by doing Farmers Markets my art can be more affordable and I get to mingle with the people who buy it. I can hear feedback, get ideas, and meet people from all walks of life!
TC: What is the best thing about the Famers Market and what advice can you give to those trying to sell their art?
MS: I love meeting people who used to throw, or people who have a craft they do. My advice would be if you have fun doing it then keep doing it! There’s an ass for every seat as my parents say, and if you love it, and if you work hard then that’s all that matters! But if you start collecting so many pieces that even after you have given your friends and family tons of pieces, you still have art collecting in your house, then find a local farmers market for sure!
I didn’t even have a tent until just recently, just went out with a table and set up shop! Start small, and like another vendor told me, don’t get discouraged! Even if you don’t sell anything one day, you might meet someone who wants to write a blog about you, or who might come back the next week to get a present for a friend! Also there are tons of people who could be making what you make, or doing what you do, but they aren’t. So go for it. Ultimately you are the one putting in the focus and the effort and the hard work to follow your passion and turn dreams into realities! I definitely believe everyone is artist; the difference is that some create and others don’t. Having a website (I simply use facebook) is a great way to show people who run the farmer’s market or who you are interested in working with what you are working with. So I would definitely recommend some sort of website to show your stuff!
TC: How did you get introduced to the Farmers Market?
MS: My potter friend from college who also teaches up in Arlington was doing farmers markets on the side with her pottery. She makes one of a kind clay jewelry and hanging vases and really cool stuff, her business is call Ware Clay. One weekend I went with her to her market and it was so fun! I thought, “Man, I can do this! I should do this.” It’s exactly what I tell my [elementary] kids they should do! I got home and finally applied for farmers markets. With no response. One day I get a call from the guy in charge of the 17th Street Farmers Market saying they had a spot available if I was interested for their event two days later! Ecstatic, I agreed and kinda freaked as well because I had no name, no business cards, and no art! Well I soon realized my house was full of art, from demonstrations at school to art I had made in college! I got it together with the help of my dad and what a successful day it was! I got the bug! It was so fun meeting people and seeing the reactions people had to my work.
I was a little nervous that I didn’t have a collection of pottery that I was proud of, but figured I would just put it all out there, even my ugly pieces from college! I had one of the best learning experiences that day when people loved pieces I hated and didn’t love the pieces that I loved! It was so liberating! I realized that I can just continued to have fun making pieces, and whether I love them or not, someone else just might! I didn’t matter to them if it was too heavy, or not the right color. The things I stressed over, they didn’t even notice! That day I met tons of new people including another vendor who recommended the west end farmers market and that’s become my most regular market I go to.
TC: Your pottery is mostly wheel thrown. Where does your inspiration come from and how does that translate to the wheel?
MS: My favorite potter ever is Steven Summerville and for my VCU class I interviewed him for an assignment. His style is bright, fun and functional and he is a master at making the perfect vessels! Sometimes I still get intimidated that I am not as “good” as other potters who meticulously throw each pot, attach perfect handles and lids. But ultimately, I love pottery and I have fun doing it. I have fun being inspired by Steven Summerville’s style of almost creating personalities for each piece with unique handles! As I evolve and learn more I would love to find a way to create pieces with bold bright colors to make my pieces even more fun!
TC: Where do you go to work, or do you have a set up in your home? How important is your environment to your creativity?
MS: I have my own wheel and kiln luckily, however my wheel is at my school where I use it to demonstrate for the kids so during the school year I order my own glazes and use the school kiln. Currently I am taking a class at the visual arts center in Richmond so I am using their clay and glazes which I don’t have much control over. Ultimately I would love to get my wheel home, set up my kiln (which is too small for my liking) and have a studio at home. That way I can always have something in the works.
TC: You have a collection on canvas entitled “Roy G. Biv,” featuring abstract pieces in a variety of bright colors. Where did your idea for this use of color come from?
MS: I was studying abroad when I discovered Chris Ofili’s “No Woman No Cry.” It was the most beautiful and captivating painting I had ever seen in real life! His style begins with layering various colors of paint with drips and glitter and then creates images that tell great stories. In college, I used him as inspiration for a painting and it was hideous! My teacher hated it and compared to the other art students, mine was a complete failure! It was like I was back in high school realizing, “Man this is not my thing!” Well a few years after college I decided that maybe I didn’t have to take myself so seriously. I didn’t have to create an image at all. Through my teachings I am always explaining the color wheel and color theory and patterns and shapes. So I turned my living room into a studio and decided that I was going to create my first series of paintings! Not only am I inspired by Chris Ofili and his drip techniques and use of glitter, but also Mark Rothko’s color theory color blocking paintings as well as Jackson Pollock’s crazy creating ways (talk about someone who seemed to just be having fun with his art!).
TC: Do you have any advice for those who have artistic talent but aren’t sure where to start or don’t know what niche to pursue?
MS: As an artist, and I do truly believe that everyone is an artist. The problem is that we reach that age (like I did in high school) where you lose your confidence and start to compare yourself to those around you and think, hmmm maybe this isn’t my thing. But like I tell my students and like I wish I had been taught sooner is that art is not just about being a great drawer or the best painter. There are so many other avenues to be an artist, such as a potter, a photographer, a jeweler, a clothing designer, in fact when you get dressed in the morning you are creating a look. Therefore, you are an artist, because ultimately an artist is just someone who creates, which is why we are all truly artists – whether you own that title or not…you are!
TC: How do you defeat that feeling of discouragement when trying to sell your work?
MS: The art world is a scary place for new people. Unless you know the right people or get your stuff into judged shows, galleries seem very intimidating. So rather than get discouraged I decided to turn my own house into a gallery and have my first one man show! With help of friends, I moved all my furniture out of my living and dining room, hung the paintings, created labels, created invitations, bought some wine, beer and made too much food! My dad came over early and realized that I didn’t have any pottery for sale and that I was a fool not to put that out as well. I hadn’t made any pieces for the show, but gathered pieces I had made from my various classes. Low and behold my dad was right, the pottery sold quickly and so did several paintings!
TC: What are you working on now?
MS: My pottery is currently my focus as I am working on really improving my craft. Trying to make my pieces lighter than I did in my beginning days as well as searching for the perfect glazes! I have also learned that I don’t like commissions. Most artists live for commissions because it means work! But I have found that I start to feel constricted that the buyer isn’t going to like the work. I would rather make what I like and what I have fun doing, and buy if you like, and don’t if you don’t.
Thank you so much to Molly for answering my questions and for letting us get to know her and her artwork better! If you are ever in the Richmond/Henrico area, please stop by the West End Farmers Market and take a look at Molly’s work. Also, check out her Facebook page to find out where else she will be appearing. If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or send them on over to Molly’s page!
See you soon!
*Pictures for this post were either taken by me (the featured image) or found on Molly’s Facebook page.