Today's interview is with my friend, Brit, who I met during my short time living in Austin, Texas. She recently opened her shop, Paper & Clay, and you might remember that I worked on her identity design and printed her business cards. Brit is a talented lady with such a beautiful, modern aesthetic. Here is what she had to say about her creative career.


Have you always known you wanted to be a ceramicist?
No, in fact, when I was a kid I wanted to grow up to be a Veterinarian! (That's what all ten-year-old girls say right?) But you know around 9th grade I realized that I was terrible at math and science, so I sort of let that one go.

I suppose I've always been a creative thinker, and my mom is an artist so I always had exposure to the visual arts, but it wasn't until my late teens or early twenties that I started seriously considering a creative career. I started out in photography, which I really enjoyed, but the first time I sat down at a pottery wheel I knew I'd found my niche.

Tell me a little bit about your education and how it prepared you for this career (or didn't).
I attended the Ceramics program at the University of Memphis (where I will finish my BFA in the Spring). There has been a lot of recent discussion about the value of a college degree to our generation-- particularly one in the Fine or Liberal Arts. Some people argue that if you don’t come out of your educational experience with a specific applicable skill, you likely just washed all of that money down the drain. In many ways I agree with that sentiment. I do think there are many people who can have a successful creative career without the experience of a University program—but they have to work ten times harder to teach themselves, make connections, and to keep up with their contemporaries. It would require a great amount of discipline and an amazing work ethic. While I would definitely love to change some of the decisions I’ve made about my education, I feel that my time in school has been remarkably important, primarily for the relationships and connections that I’ve formed with many of my professors, who are very often successful artists themselves.
Oh goodness, did I get off topic?


Do you do this full time? If not, tell me about your day job (good and bad). If so, when did you know it was time to make the leap into full time?
I’m not selling my work full time yet—but I’m hopeful that it will happen soon! Until recently I was working as a nanny for a fabulous family who was very supportive of my work, and very encouraging as I did all of the legwork for Paper & Clay. I’m really thankful for their support and their confidence in my ability to make it happen. It is so important to have people like that in your life. Right now I’m doing some freelance work in Social Media, but the majority of my time is spent in the ceramics studio.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of your job? 
I love being in my studio, creating work (I particularly love the chemistry), marketing through social media, meeting other artists, doing research— it is so much work having your own business, but I’d rather work 80 hours a week doing what I love than half that time working for the weekend. My one hated responsibility: pricing. Ugh.

When will you feel like you've "made it"? or what is your ultimate long term dream?
I have some short-term goals that I am working hard to achieve right now, and some long-term goals that are always in the back of my mind. The biggest one is to see the Paper & Clay brand in some of my favorite shops. Anthropology, Canoe, Alder & Co. It’s tricky to say “I’ve made it when . . .”, but I think when I’ve reached the point that I’m able to transition to working for myself full time, that will be the big moment for me.

Brit McDaniel of Paper & Clay (via HollyWould) ©AnnabellaCharles Photography

What has been your greatest success?
Ha! Well Paper & Clay is just a baby, so my accomplishments so far seem quite insignificant when compared with my lofty goals!

What is one thing you did wrong?
My biggest mistake was getting up to my eyeballs in student loan debt. It's a burden I'm going to have to face for at least the next decade. My advice: find a way to go to school for free. I'm serious. Don't pay for it. Find a way. Student debt is the WORST.

Your favorite inspirational quote / mantra:
"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of all creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things."

-- Ray Bradbury


Photography by AnnaBella Charles

You can learn more about Brit's business, Paper & Clay, by visiting the following links:

Click here to read the other creative careers interviews.

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