Our local artists are a vital part of Quinn's Mercantile and we hope you will enjoy learning more about them. This Artist Interview with Lori Ann Williams is a great way for you to get to know more about our local artists and opportunities to support them.
Who are you?
My name is Lori Ann Williams and I am the owner of LAW Designs. My husband and I met while we were in college, and after we got married I moved to Middle Tennessee in 2012. I’m a crazy cat lady with 4 bossy fur balls that tell me what to do all day and leave hair on everything but I love them anyway. If you ever find hair in an order, now you know why.
Education? Or background?
I have a BA in Art with an emphasis in Ceramics & Sculpture.
Part time/full time artist?
I’m currently a part time artist, but of course, the dream is to make art my full time hustle! I also work part time at Peddler Interiors with my husband’s family.
When did you begin your creative journey?
I wouldn’t call myself artistic, but I’ve always been a crafty, creative person. I never really enjoyed drawing or painting, things you would call “fine art.” I was always more of a popsicle stick & glue kind of kid. My whole life I’ve been making things with my hands; cake decorating, doll houses, mud pies in the backyard. Putting things together has always been in my heart.
The first time I touched clay was in my sculpture class and I fell madly in love. We made a life-size portrait bust. Mine was absolutely terrible, but I knew I needed to learn more about clay. The next semester I took my first ceramics class and I was absolutely hooked.
What do you make?
I prefer to make functional ceramics, mugs, plates, bowls, vases, things that can be used in your daily life. I have also always dabbled in jewelry making for years, so it only seemed natural to try and blend my clay with my jewelry.
What mediums do you work with?
I primarily work in ceramic clay, with colorful underglazes and bright patterns. In the last year, I’ve started incorporating discarded leather from my “real job” into my jewelry. I also enjoy sewing and recently have been making a few miniatures!
What/who are your biggest influences?
I’m hugely inspired by Mary Rose Young in my pottery. She is in England and makes some gorgeous, brightly colored pottery. There are many artists that I follow who give me great joy: Charity Hofert (@charityhofert), Deb McNaughton (@deb.mcnaughton), Kasey Rainbow Collective (@kasey.rainbow), Alex Simon (@makegoodchoices), and so many others who bring smiles and joy to the world using color.
What inspires you?
COLOR, obviously. I love color, all the colors. I’ve never been able to really pick one favorite, so I use them all! I also love things with a variety of textures and patterns. Fabrics with lots of texture are so fun to work with. And although I don’t use them much at the moment, I collect all kinds of things that would make great stamps for my clay. Buttons are a popular choice, but I have lots of cool findings including thrifted lace doilies.
What does your work represent?
I don’t really have a deep message in any of my work. I simply want to make people smile. I want someone to see my work and just be happy. I want them to open their kitchen cabinet, pour their cup of coffee in a bright rainbow mug, and enjoy the happy, colorful mug in their hand.
What is your favorite piece that you’ve created so far?
Oh, that’s a difficult question to answer. I don’t usually keep my own work, but there is a mug in my cabinet that I fell in love with. It’s a simple white mug with rainbow arches all around, but when I picked it up and put it in my hands it felt so good. It reminds me of the progress that I have made in my skills and my art over the years.
Do you have any best practices/creative habits that benefit your business?
The best piece of advice I ever got was from my pottery professor. He was talking about life after college and the real world. He told us to, “Never Stop Making Art.” That’s something I’ve tried to live up to. Even if it’s not in clay. Even if it's not jewelry. Even if it’s something I don’t plan on selling. Once you stop creating, it is so so so difficult to start again. Time. Money. Motivation. Something holds you back. So never stop cultivating that creativity. Switch mediums if you’re stuck. Make something totally different if you are tired of looking at your current project. If you get really OCD, make something unruly and without rules. Whatever the medium, do not stop creating things. Do not give up.
What is the best thing about being a creative business owner?
Hands down, being able to create a beautiful object that brings joy to someone. When you are an artist, you are driven to create. It’s inside you. You can’t NOT create. To have the ability to do the thing you love, but also know that someone else loves your work enough to bring it into their home and their lives is the biggest compliment I can get. Getting paid is pretty cool too, but I could give my pieces away for free just knowing they loved them as much as I do.
What advice would you give aspiring creative entrepreneurs?
Find and make friends with other artists! Create a community or a network of people who can help you in your journey. Whether it’s someone you met at a show who can give you advice on displays, or an artist you follow on Instagram who can answer questions about processes. I wouldn’t know about most of the shows I do without asking other artists where they apply. My booth was helped set up by an interior designer friend. My branding was done by a good graphic designer friend. Create a network that you can reach out to with questions.
I know it sounds silly, but to have a collection launch and sell out of everything! I think its being so known and desired that you know you have demand and you’re not just making things for no reason!! We all get imposter syndrome and knowing your work is wanted is just the biggest boost of serotonin. I would love to be able to work in my studio, have shows, sell in stores, and just focus on this business full time. It’s a lot of things to do to be successful and it takes so much time!
A big dream that I realized I had only a few years ago was a shared studio. Every time I drove past an empty building I would think about where the artists’ studios would go and where I would put the kilns and, oh those windows would make such a beautiful gallery space for customers to shop. A place with several studio areas where artists could rent space, make their work in a community, help each other, host events and sell beautiful artwork. I think that would be a wonderful community for artists of all kinds to be a part of.
Where can people find you and your work?
I have a full studio and kiln at my home where I make all my work from start to finish. I do have an Etsy shop that I sell from https://www.etsy.com/shop/LawDesignsStudios , but I have SO much more inventory than I can get photographed and uploaded. I’m not super great at social media, but I can also sell off Facebook and Instagram. I also have work at Quinn’s Mercantile and The Curious Kitchen here in town.