This Austin ceramics designer shares her tips on how to transform your creative passion into a career.
By Sarah Holcomb, Photo by Marshall Tidrick
Scroll through Austin-based ceramics artist Eliana Bernard’s expertly curated Instagram, @elianabernard, and you’ll find candy-colored vases, gold-rimmed dish wear and elegant pendants, all featuring her signature marbled design. Yet behind Bernard’s flawless feed, the designer says she’s well acquainted with the challenges of building a business.
Bernard fell in love with molding clay as a college art student interning for local ceramics artists. In 2013, while juggling another job, she launched her rst ceramics collection. This year, she transitioned to focusing full time on her business, Eliana Bernard Ceramics. Austin Woman asked Bernard to offer her insight on how to turn a creative pursuit into a career.
- Find an internship. “Look at internships out there in the field you’re wanting to work in. … [My internships] taught me so much that I wouldn’t have learned while going to school, things like how to pack ceramics for shipping, creating a wholesale catalogue and setting up business meetings.”
- Network with other creatives. “It’s important to meet people in the same field you’re trying to pursue, to build up a network of people that you can bounce ideas off of and support each other. I’ve been going to Creative Ladies Night (@creativeladiesnight on Instagram). That’s an [Austin] event where women get together, network and meet each other. We bring wine or a friend and hang out and talk. It’s very casual and a great way to go and network and meet people.”
- Build a social-media presence. “I love Instagram! … It’s a great way to get your work out there to a variety of people. I’ve also made connections with other makers and retailers and press through Instagram. I try to post once a day something I’m doing in the studio or something that I made.”
- Devote time to learning your craft. “Experiment and figure out what it is you’re working on. Whether [you’re] building on a collection or you’re testing out a couple different products, it’s important to have the time and also patience. Know you’re going to make mistakes and sometimes, things won’t work out as planned, but it’s all a part of the process.”
- Make sure it’s something you love to do. “Starting a business is tough, especially if it’s something you’re doing while you’re also working a full-time job or a part-time job. Starting and running a business has its ups and downs. If it’s something that you love to do, it’s easier to get through the down times.”