Right From the Start!

Right From the Start!

My name is Brett Beasley. I recently completed my graduate degree at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina. Now that I have graduated, I've relocated to Ames, Iowa and am establishing my own studio. I want to consider the implications of being prepared and do this right, right from the start. So when CERF+ asked me to document how I'm setting myself up for a sustainable career, I said, "yes, of course!"

The goal of documenting my process is to connect with other artists who are setting up their studios or are making a living as a studio artist. I hope you will follow my progress, provide recommendations, and maybe even some words of encouragement. If you’re starting your first studio or have done so in the past, please share your advice and let’s get a conversation going! Be sure to visit my Instagram account and personal website to see the type of artwork I create.

How I found my new studio:

When I graduated, I flew out to Iowa and started looking for a space. It’s an exciting - and scary - process. There are a lot of things to consider in setting up a ceramics studio. This was my criteria:
  1. A space at least 500 square feet so I could have enough room to set up my different stations - my office station, clay station, kiln area and photography area.  
  2. Access to electricity that could run enough power for my kiln.
  3. A place where I could easily get my clay from the outside into my studio closest to the delivery point.
  4. At least a one car garage to store finished work, to serve as my woodworking area and for extra storage.
  5. An area for dry chemical storage outside for my glazing station.
  6. A place close enough for my partner to bicycle to work.

A few realizations:

  1. I didn’t realize that getting setting up a studio would take FOREVER! Think about it. When you’re in school, in a residency, or working out of an established studio, everything, and I mean everything, is already set up. Starting with a raw space, I’ve had to build and install tables, shelves, lights and a  ventilation system. Being on the basement level, there was a sump pump already installed that I can use for mop water.  
  2. I’m always on my computer. In school, my focus was on coming up with ideas and manipulating materials. Now, getting out there as an independent artist means that I’m writing grants, applying for teaching jobs, festivals, and exhibitions, formalizing contracts for acquisitions and spending time on marketing, budgets and planning how to get my studio operational. A note on typing at my computer:  Since this is the first time I’ve had to do these things, I can’t ‘copy-paste’ my way through it. I don’t have boilerplate of material to then use over and over again. But I will soon!
  3. I spend SO much time on non-art making things in order to set myself up to make art! I know, I know. Welcome to being a professional artist.
  4. This is all worth it. Since starting out on my own, I’ve secured two teaching jobs, am installing a solo  exhibition at the Ames Chamber of Commerce and I got accepted into the 2018 American Craft Council show in Minneapolis.

All in all, I’m taking it one step at a time. From Uhaul boxes, back into a studio, lets get going!

This photograph was taken my thesis year at ECU. I look surprisingly calm, despite the pressing deadlines and general anxiety of the written portion of my thesis...

The first half of my Uhaul packed tight with artwork, studio supplies, and memories. 

Unpacked into my new studio! Ames, IA

Stay tuned for the next post: CERF+ "Get Ready Grant"


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