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Woman at Work: Alex Simon, Ceramic Artist

What does a day in your work life look like?
OH THE CLAYS OF OUR LIVES! I always start by taking my show pony/cream puff/athletic dream dog, Frankie, to the park where I make my to-do list for the day in my sketchbook. My day usually involves 6+ hours of heavy ceramics work from casting to sculpting to glazing to painting details and one million other steps in between.

I post intermittently on social media, and reluctantly do random admin computer work throughout the day. It's a combo of creativity, really hard physical work, and stopping everything to execute ridiculous spontaneous things like bedazzling a tiny shop vac, recording a TikTok involving pouring clay all over my body, or interpretive dancing with my dog.

What made you start doing the amazing things that you do?
I studied ceramics and sculpture at Bennington College in Vermont. After graduation, I moved to Portland to pursue a life in clay and landed some production pottery jobs for various ceramic companies, where I made plaster molds, cast thousands of pieces, and threw identical pots on the wheel. I was a production potter for 6 years while I made my own pieces on the side and slowly worked my way up to taking the leap into self employment.
The finished denim darling Alex casts in the video above.
What did you want to be when you were growing up, or a little kid?
I didn't know exactly what I wanted to be but I knew I didn't want it to be boring! Although it was pretty telling that through my childhood, my favorite place was Plaster Funtime, a paint-your-own pottery shop, where you painted cheesy plaster objects with acrylic paint.

What do you have to sacrifice to be good at what you do?
I often worked 7 days a week for the first few years (well, I still do during the Holiclay season) and late into the night more often than not. In those first three years or so, I hardly made any money as I was under-pricing my pieces, prioritizing paying off my student loans, and my work was still really evolving, as was my confidence in it. I learned so much in those early years (I still am, of course), but all of those lessons have built off of each other to lead to more bold, authentic, sparkly pieces that are so much more me. And with that has come higher demand, finally paying myself, and a more sustainable business all around.

Tell us something surprising about you.
I lived in a solar powered house completely off the grid on a mountainside in New Hampshire during my teen years! Complete with bear claw marks on the front door and regular moose sightings.

How do you encourage other women to start doing what you do?
Make the art that you need to see in the world, the art that feels the most authentic to you, and take the time to find your voice and refine your skills, instead of just making pieces that you think will sell!

Be you and make your own trends instead of chasing them! Add your own magic into the world and you'll thrive! It takes time to build a business, so give yourself time, and have a $$ cushion (or a part-time job) before taking the leap into self-employment in the arts. It's a journey and not an overnight success!
Works in Progress: pipes modeled after exactly what you think they are…

What does workwear designed for women mean to you?
It's a heart explosion! It's an expression of self love to put clothing on your body that was made so intentionally and thoughtfully! It's a practical investment into feeling good in your body but also trusting that your clothes are up for the task of keeping up with your wild lifestyle. It actually really relates to how I feel about treating yourself to an elaborate  handmade mug, which turns your morning coffee routine into a ritual. Having nice things that are a reflection of quality over quantity, and living with big thoughtful intention.

Make Good Choices with Alex on Instagram. Alex’s pronouns are she/her.

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