To Quote Brent: "Friends, Family, and Colleagues I have been selected as a finalist in Martha Stewart’s American Made contest. This opportunity will greatly increase my works visibility online as the contest continues to grow with voting starting on Monday September 21st, 2015. The contest winner is determined based on votes –meaning I need all the help I can get! I am honored to be a finalist along with other professionals in the ceramics field. Many of my competitors have a much broader audience base through social media platforms and in an attempt to broaden my reach I have put together important links, handles, and other information that will help spread the word! Please see and share the information below and happy voting!"
From Brent's Profile Page on the contest site:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS.Upon completion of my Master's of Fine Arts from Clemson University I relocated to New Orleans, L.A. I have begun making and selling utilitarian ceramic objects, while collaborating with other artists to create "Southern Intentions : Prints, Pots, & Provisions" and working on other personal projects. The ceramic process is involved, from beginning to end - it takes time, effort, and patience. My hand is involved from the making of the clay to the delivery of the final product. I use a porcelain clay body, throw and alter forms, and fire the final product in an oxidation atmosphere to 2300° f. My business is evolving through the local sales of work in brick and mortar venues, online sales, and implementation and completion of new projects that make dining an artisanal experience. Starting a business is born out of long talks with colleagues, envisioning creative ways to reinvent and better previous endeavors with the intent to share outcomes others.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORKSPACE, SHOP, OR STUDIO.I am currently planning construction of a personal studio while I work in a shared studio space. I plan to repurpose a vintage camper or step van into a mobile ceramics studio - my thought being if someone can turn a step van into a mobile restaurant, I can make a mobile studio. Ceramic artists in the 21st century are nomadic. We move often for professional development opportunities, teach workshops across the country, and travel from residency program to residency program. Upcycling a mobile vehicle into a studio will allow me to continue working as I move throughout the United States for opportunities that will advance my profession. I am in the long process of planning, budgeting, and acquiring resources to begin my studio endeavor. I plan to utilize crowdfunding platforms to reach my goals in addition to contributing funds myself.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?Inspiration is everywhere, all the time. It can be a bit overwhelming. My phone is full of photos, from bugs I saw hiking to graffiti in the restroom of my favorite dive. Forms, ideas, objects, and life bloom from what we absorb in our daily lives. It is an important part of my practice to document these things and revisit them when necessary.
WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS STAND OUT?Brent Pafford Ceramics is at a crucial moment in its development as a small business. I am dedicated to continue creating handmade utilitarian objects, counterbalancing contemporary societies disposable attitude. This opportunity would allow me to focus on my studio, devoting more time to making.
WHAT IS THE BEST PIECE OF BUSINESS ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?Be aware of your surroundings.
HOW HAVE YOU USED SOCIAL MEDIA TO START AND GROW YOUR BUSINESS?I am learning how to harness social media and utilize it to grow my business. Instagram is a great platform for sharing snip-its of life, inspirational images, and making connections with other individuals with similar interests. Social media is the future of marketing and growing small business - as this landscape develops and changes I hope to harness the energy and use it to my advantage!
WHAT DOES AMERICAN MADE MEAN TO YOU?
I was raised on a farm in South Carolina, in a large family that instilled in me values and traits that are inherent in the work I create. Objects that are "American Made" are imbued with similar values: quality, worth, and labor; to name a few. American made objects are made by individuals with care, purpose, and intent. American makers, craftspersons, and artists dedicate their lives to the work they take pride in creating. Utilitarian ceramics are incomplete until they are in the domestic spaces of a customer, collector, appreciator, and most important of all - a user.
Again, Brent's American Made Profile link: