We had the good fortune of connecting with Jess Carter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jess, what’s the most important lesson your business/career has taught you?
Showing up is the most important thing. Working for yourself is hard! For me, an important way to maintain enough discipline is to create structure within my day. I find the best way to hold myself accountable is to plan my entire week ahead of time. Make a schedule and stick to it!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My ceramics career started when I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2012 from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. For the first few years after graduating college, I hopped around the country completing different residencies and an apprenticeship before finally landing in San Diego in 2016. The move to San Diego marked the first time I would be setting up a studio all on my own. It has been a slow process but I finally have a fully functioning ceramics studio in my garage (with a kiln and everything!) I spent years transporting work and paying other people to fire it on my behalf. It was always hard for me to put the fate of my pieces into someone else’s hands at such a crucial point in the process. Having my own kiln has allowed me to start to grow my business. I am able to create more, test more, play more-all incredibly important things for growth.
One of the most important things I have learned is also one of the most simple-never give up. There are so many things that can and will go wrong. A million rejections, shows where you show up and don’t sell anything, scary moments where you don’t know how you’re going to pay the bills; but that’s all part of it. I think anyone who chooses a path as an artist goes into it with the understanding that it’s not going to be easy or comfortable, but it will be fulfilling.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
We would for sure have to go spend a couple of days camping in Anza-Borego. The desert is weird and beautiful and one of my favorite places to escape to. Once we were back in town we’d head to Turf Club for steaks and dirty martinis. The following days would be spent hiking any of the amazing trails we have in San Diego County, enjoying a beach day along Sunset Cliffs or kayaking around Mission Bay. I’m sure we’d find time to treat ourselves to dinner at Jeune Et Jolie or happy hour at Cantina Mayahuel, maybe grab some wine and snacks from The Rose and finish the week off with a slushee from Fernside . The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shout out goes to Forrest Lesch-Middelton, a ceramic artist based out of Petaluma, CA. I met Forrest back in 2014 when I was an Artist in Residence at the Morean Center for Clay in St. Petersburg, FL. After my time in Florida, I moved to Petaluma to work with Forrest as his apprentice for two years. Since then, Forrest has remained a valued mentor and friend. I am forever grateful for his passion for teaching and willingness to pick up the phone and talk me through whatever current crisis I am dealing with in the studio.
I also consider myself extremely lucky to be surrounded by a group of talented, motivated and supportive friends. I can’t imagine who I’d be as an artist (or person) if it weren’t for the endless support and all of the hours spent talking shop. A couple of my favorite artists/friends include:Lydia Johnson, who makes incredible hand-built pots in Manchester, CT and Zach Balousek, a large scale sculptor based in Chicago.
Photos by Robert Tardio