We had the good fortune of connecting with Dee Clement and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dee, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
I think in the beginning my friends and family were able to see my progress on social media and at pop-ups. People like seeing growth and watching a business flourish out of nothing. I always kept my audience in the know every step of the way as I learned new things about pottery and also engaged with them as much as possible. Engaging with your clientele is so important to build relationships with them and also get a feel for what people want. I have regular customers now that continue to purchase from me multiple times and I know them by name and know what they usually like. Another factor is that I am my truest self on social media and try to be transparent and as honest as possible with my audience. I don’t try to be anyone else or mimic other potters. I let people in, so they know exactly who they’re buying from. I don’t sugar coat the messiness and imperfections that come with handmade pottery. I think in social media a lot of people only post perfect pictures and content when that’s not the reality of being human or being an artist.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I consider my pottery style classic, rustic and slightly minimalist. My pieces are functional but also warm and inviting because I don’t use very bright or vibrant colors. The earth tones I use go well with peoples homes and aesthetics. I think what really sets my art apart though, has more to do with me as a person and my identity than my actual art itself. I would say 60/40. I’ve always considered myself an outsider and someone who never quite fit in. Now as an adult, I feel like it’s more of an advantage and something that makes me stick out. I am a queer mixed woman who’s half Mexican and quarter Japanese. I think members of the community and people from all over the states gravitate towards my work because they support my identity and my pottery style. I am 100% myself on social media and I think people crave honesty, authenticity and people who don’t take themselves so seriously. I did ceramics all through middle school and high school and it wasn’t until my early 30’s that I realized how much I missed it in my life and working with my hands. I joined a pottery studio with a friend in 2018 and started teaching myself how to do the pottery wheel again. It was very difficult and frustrating in the beginning. I had very little experience on the wheel since school only taught me hand building techniques. With the help of other members of that studio, youtube tutorials and my persistence I started to get the hang of it. Soon after I started to post my progress and pictures of pieces I had made on instagram. I got so many messages of support and admiration that I decided my work was good enough to sell to my friends and acquaintances. I tend to over think things but with this I just dove in head first and went a long for the ride. I created an account for my art and booked myself at small local pop-ups. The following year I had a friend create a logo for me and my wife helped me build a website. It all snowballed from there. I quit the studio I was a member at and built my own home studio and even taught myself how to fire my own pieces with a kiln. There are countless of challenges and easy mistakes you can make in pottery that can destroy your pieces. With most self taught crafts there’s going to be a lot of trial and error and I guess I learn best doing it myself and figuring it out. Making friends with local artists and networking has really helped me along the way. I have met so many amazing and talented people through pottery and craft fairs. I want people to be inspired by my work and to feel joy. Hearing how happy my customers are with my pieces and how it makes their daily rituals that much more special really makes me light up. Bringing beauty and magic into people’s homes and lives is why I keep doing it. It brings me so much joy creating these vessels and I think that energy can be felt by the customer as well.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My favorite things to do in LA are usually the non-touristy parts of town. I like the hidden gems that no one would find in a basic tour guide. I would show them North East L.A because that’s where I feel most at home. I would take them to Woodcat Coffee in Echo Park, then we would go on some local hikes like Elysian and Griffith park or check out a farmers market. I would take them to lunch on York Blvd in Highland Park to get Ramen or Guissados my fave tacos. For Drinks I would take them to Harvard and Stone or the Satellite for live music and dancing or Offbeat bar for Drag show. My sweet tooth would take them to Magpies for vegan soft-serve or Colorado donuts for vegan treats. Sunday’s Fairfax Flea Market is the best for vintage finds. I’ve lived in L.A for 14 years now and the East side of town has always had my heart. The vibe and energy is different than the west side. It’s more low-key and artsy. I like supporting local businesses and musicians and I feel like North East L.A has a stronger sense of community here. L.A is huge and you definitely have to put a lot of effort into finding these special spots but once you do you feel like you’ve hit a gold mine. The most fun nights I’ve ever had here has always been unplanned, spontaneous or you accidentally stumble upon your new favorite band performing or food spot with karaoke.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am very lucky because I have so much support and love from a lot of people in my close circle and community. I first want to thank my beautiful wife Jess for pushing me to follow my dreams and pursue any art form I’m interested in. Her drive and persistence is so inspiring to me. She’s the one who helped me build a home studio and made my dream a reality. I want to thank my younger sister Christine for always being by my side whenever I have self doubt and want to give up. She’s wise beyond her years and an extremely talented artist herself. We hype each other up and bounce ideas off each other all the time to ignite our creative passions. My parents have always been very loving and supportive of my creative projects/businesses. Most parents would push their kid to punch the clock in a 9-5 job, but mine have been the biggest fans of my art since day one. They went to my shows when I was a musician and now they encourage my pottery business to the fullest. Lastly, I’d like to thank my mentor Denise for showing me the ropes on starting a pottery business. She has taught me so much about not only pottery but life in general. She has encouraged me along the way to stay with it and has helped boost my confidence with this craft. Being a self taught ceramicist can be very challenging but I was never alone throughout this process. I am forever grateful.
Photographers are Jessica Thia Perez and one of them is by Maxwell Miranda