I am really excited to share this interview with my friend, Charan Sachar of Creative with Clay. Charan makes unique handcrafted pottery inspired and influenced by his Indian culture, Indian fabrics, embroidery, colors and his love for Bollywood. He has been in business for 7 years and sells his work through galleries and stores across the US, as well as at select art shows in the Northwest and online. I first met Charan in a workshop I taught and fell immediately in love with his work. At that time he dreamed of quitting his day job to do his art full time, but hadn't yet taken the plunge. He took the leap not long afterwards and has been incredibly successful. It has been so wonderfu to see his business grow over the years.
How did you get started?
Since I was a kid I knew I wanted to work in clay, but never had the opportunity to learn. It was in 2000 when I moved to WA that I took my first class and it was love at first touch. Very soon I was teaching at the same facility. With a lot of interest from others in purchasing my work, I got together with some of my pottery friends and did a small street show. That was when I sold my first piece to a stranger and realized the value in my work. Since then I have worked on establishing my line of work, creating a distinctive look and making my brand stand out. It is the support of family and friends that has helped me grow and continues to do so.
What do people not know about you or your work that you’d like them to know?
People might not know what a “process-oriented” person I am. Working in my studio is a very organized process. Of course there are days when I just I like to do anything in my studio and that counts as vacation time. But to get work accomplished, I sit in the morning with my tea and plan exactly what needs to be done, at what stages do I switch to something else, when do I cover up my pieces, when do I decorate, etc. etc. This helps me focus in the studio and be efficient and productive.
How did you name your business?
That was a tough decision to make and my wife played a big role in that. I knew in the business that my work would always involve clay and I was fascinated with everything about clay. Whether it was making functional pots, sculptures or tiles, I wanted to keep my options open, rather than defining myself as a functional potter. The majority of my work is functional but I also have a whole line of one of a kind sculptural work. I hope to add a line of decorative tile work soon too. Clay has definitely helped me bring out the creative side in me, so what better name than “Creative with Clay”
How much of what you do is fun and how much feels like work?
If I wasn’t having fun, I don’t think I would be in this business. I enjoy every part of working with clay, from construction to decoration to completion. The part that bugs me is the lack of space because of which I need to keep organizing my studio. I enjoy the planning part of organizing but when it comes to actually lifting the heavy boxes, moving them on shelves, I am not a pleasant person. Another thing I am not fond of is setting up and tearing down at shows. Even though I have gotten a lot better and efficient at it, I am always very anxious about it and would love it if there was a magic button for it.
Do you have a favorite piece, project or idea?
I would have to say at this time my newest shoes/bag that I created for the Nordstrom exhibit “Feet of Clay” is one of my favorites. These were on exhibit in Seattle downtown for the month of March. Inspired by Indian footwear called “Mojari” or “Jutti”, this sculpture is made entirely of clay. It is slip decorated to emulate the look of intricate embroidery patterns often done on this traditional footwear.
Do you blog?
Yes, I do blog at www.creativewithclay.blogspot.com. I blog about the workings in my studio, new work and events happening. I like to connect with my customers through my blog. I feel people like to see how the work is created and the space in which it is created.
Do you do retail shows? If so, which are your favorites and why? Yes, I do retail shows mostly in the Northwest area. Among my favorites are the Edmonds Arts Festival, Bellevue Festival of Arts and the Best of the Northwest. Great crowds, great customers and great organizers for the show.
What advice would you give others who are just starting out? To look at this as a business, rather than a hobby. Be prepared to work on the business aspect of it which is going to cut in to your time of making your work. You can be great at what you make, but if you don’t spend the time and resources to run it as a business and sell it, it is just gathering dust in your studio.
Do you have a fun or interesting story to share about your work, a show, a customer (or anything else)? As you can see from my work, it is highly influenced by fabrics and I strive to get that look and feel in my work. I had applied to a show with one of my ceramic sculptures, which was dancing diva with a scarf wrapped around it. The show got back to me that they loved my work and would like to see the sculpture without the fabric. What they didn’t realize was that it was all clay and I was thrilled to have achieved my goal.
Charan is having a home show this week! For more info click here
You can see more of Charan's work at www.creativewithclay.com