We had the good fortune of connecting with Nancy Hopkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nancy, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have always been an independent thinker and have never done well in traditional work situations. I work hard and do the job but have never hesitated to offer my opinion on how things could possibly be done better or at least differently. So, being my own boss was the natural progression to happiness for me.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My art is colorful, fun and accessible. My most steady income stream comes from colorful little dishes that I call “Madge Dishes.” They are “little dishes with big possibilities.” My core customers are women who use them for jewelry, candles, soaps, as a spoon rest, teabag holder, etc. They are brightly colored in many different shapes of flora and fauna. Are food and dishwasher safe. They are also very reasonably priced. I sell them via Etsy (www.madgedishes.etsy.com), out of my studio, at shops around the country and at art shows.

Selling these dishes offers me the security and freedom to create other works that I consider to be closer to my heart. In addition to carved tiles, I’ve been making more and more whimsical sculptures and recently began a series entitled: “The Amazing Houndini and his Magical Menagerie.” This consists of different animal “acts” at an imaginary circus/magic show run by an affable yellow dog named, Houndini. One act sees a chubby capybara balancing on one foot with colorful balls, a bird and a butterfly. Another is a bright green snake who has tied himself into the shape of a balloon dog. I’ve completed about eight acts so far with many more to come. I don’t really have a venue to sell or show them yet (except my own studio) but I am compelled to make them.

Before pursuing life as an independent artist, I was employed as a graphic designer and did a lot of freelance illustration. Even though I’ve left these careers behind, there is not a single day that I don’t use some of the skills I’ve acquired from them. If I could give one piece of advice it would be to learn as much as you can about design and marketing before you pursue your independent art business. Because if you can’t do it yourself, you will need to have the funds to hire someone to do it for you. Additionally, you’ll want to have at least a working knowledge of what constitutes good design so that you can present yourself and your business to the public in a professional manner.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would and have, taken friends to the neighborhood in which I have my studio. It’s called Over the Rhine or OTR in Cincinnati. OTR is filled with wonderful independent restaurants, galleries, parks and architecture. All within walking distance to my studio. There is something free and wonderful going on in nearby Washington Park almost every day. Just the people watching alone will fill a lot of time. OTR is a vibrant and inspiring neighborhood for artists and anyone who loves city life.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Many people have helped and supported me in my career. Including those who created obstacles I’ve had to overcome. Sometimes people telling you “no” or that you “can’t” do something is the greatest motivation. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give my parents their due credit. They are not involved in the art world or even understand it very well, but when I’ve really needed support (sometimes financial) they have always been there for me. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be where I am without their help.

As far as help and mentorship for the art itself; it would have to be Terri Kern. Terri has served as an example of how hard you have to work to succeed as an independent artist and has introduced me to many people and opportunities over the years. Our studios are in the same building (hers is directly above mine). On those occasions when we’re both working late nights trying to meet a deadline, nothing is more comforting than knowing someone else is doing exactly the same thing. I’m in business by myself but I’m not alone.

Website: www.madgedishes.etsy.com; www.nancyhopkinsdesigns.etsy.com

Instagram: nancyhopkinsdesigns

Linkedin: Nancy Hopkins

Twitter: Nancy Hopkins @MadgeDishes

Facebook: Nancy Hopkins Designs

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