We had the good fortune of connecting with Neena Plant and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Neena, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My whole life has been in pursuit of a career in art, with the idea that at some point it would provide all of my income. Once I joined a coop gallery locally, I got serious about pottery which had previously been a “nice to learn” skill at some future point. I then realized I could take advantage of the opportunities afforded to business by our system of government to work toward that self-same goal, by tracking expenses and putting every dollar back into the business. I knew that in doing so I would never have to work outside of art except by my own choice. I registered my business name with the state, filed for a Federal EIN, and have in actual business for just over 3 years.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My focus now is on pottery, which has always been an interest. I took 2 quarters at a community sponsored location many years ago, then did not really revisit the idea until I bought a wheel, though I never set it up until I joined the coop gallery I am currently with, Local Colors Gallery of Utah. When being juried into the gallery, I brought a sample from the classes I took ages before, and who knows, maybe they just really wanted a potter, but they asked me to join with pottery as half of my focus, the other half watercolor. Starting almost from scratch skill-wise was not easy: I had to re-learn the basic skills, and I was on my own. Thankfully, YouTube has many willing teachers with clear instructions, and I was off and running. My hands are not particularly strong or large, so there can be challenges with heavy clay, but I always strive for higher, more consistent walls in my pots, and as large as I can accommodate with the kiln I have. Practice, and practice, and even more practice is required to develop the muscle memory to form vessels from moist clay. I am most proud of my recent foray into clay sculpture, where I am learning that working in 3 dimensions instead of teasing out the illusion of 3D from a flat surface is rewarding when successfully executed. My wish is that the world will know me as an artist. I probably will not be a household name (or maybe I will) though the sharing of beautiful work and seeing that it finds welcoming homes is my goal. Bringing or recognizing beauty in the mundane is something I value and hope to express in my work. I do not want to be pigeonholed into a narrow creative slot, as my vision of the world and my place in it is rich and diverse, as is my artwork. My style is recognizable, not repetitive and “production work” as many potters are content to be. Unique is what I intend for my brand.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Right now, everything would be an outdoor activity, or takeout food with a beer around the kitchen table (craft beer of course) but once we are reasonably safe with the pandemic behind us, there are so many things to see and do! With cameras in hand, we would set out for Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Farmington Bay Wildlife Center, the Spiral Jetty on the Great Salt Lake, as well as Antelope Island, The Salt Flats, Lone Rock in Skull Valley, both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons: each with their own rock types and beautiful mountain streams, and the view of the entire Wasatch Front mountain range. In town, I would show off my work and that of my colleagues at Local Colors Gallery, then we’d dine at Fiddler’s Elbow, Hopkins Brewery, Squatters, or Wasatch Brewery, and perhaps another day we’d head to Davis county and pop into Bountiful Davis Art Center, then go for a meal at El Matador, all some of my favorite spots.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
As a member of the Utah Watercolor Society since 1989, I have attended many demonstrations, a few workshops, and formed lifelong friendships. Because I have filled many volunteer roles during my time in the Society, I have learned several skills that are invaluable to my art career, beyond painting techniques, tips, and tricks. I have learned organizational skills; location scouting; website creation, development, and maintenance; and networking, both over social media and interpersonally. The times with friends on outings have been some of the most memorable and enjoyable of my life. Without Utah Watercolor Society, my life experience would be poorer indeed.