Kelsey Melville, Ceramic Artist, Seattle, WA
Originally from North Carolina, Kelsey Melville is a visual artist living and working in Seattle, WA. In 2010, she graduated from Appalachian State University, receiving a BFA in Studio Art with a concentration in Ceramic Sculpture.
The central idea behind her work deals with nature and our impermanent state of existence and how this drives humanity as a whole. Kelsey's artwork portrays the delicate balance between life and death, and how we can draw hope and beauty from it. By acknowledging that our time is limited here on earth, we are motivated to live life to the fullest, and let trivial pursuits subside.
Have you always wanted to be an artist? What inspired you to start creating? I wouldn't say I knew I wanted to be an artist from a young age, but I have always been creative. From a young age I was drawn to nature and had a deep empathy for all living things. An awareness of life + death has weighed on me heavily my entire life-- art became my outlet for coping with it. I guess you could say the creative process if my form of "religion," a way of coping with our inevitable impermanence.
How have you, as an artist, found your creative voice? Throughout my life the inevitable fact of life and death has weighed on me heavily, art has becomes my outlet for coping with it. I've explored many different types of artistic mediums, but clay is the only medium that I felt a deep connection to. Clay allows me to work intuitively, I can transform the material into any shape or form, the material really moves with you.
What is your typical day like? I work as the Gift Shop Director at Volunteer Park Consrevtaory four days a week from 8am-4pm and I work in my studio after work for a few hours during the week. On the weekends I like getting out in nature and exploring the beautiful region here for a few hours. I always dedicate one full day as a studio day, usually Mondays - which is my favorite day of the week.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists or creative business people? To borrow the Nike slogan - "Just Do It." If you are a creative person, and feel a strong pull to make art - just start doing it. Start by carving out a little time in your busy week to create, or sign up for a class, or carve out a corner of space in your home to create and begin. Don't let excuses get in the way, once you start the process, it will naturally take off from there. The journey is truly rewarding.
How do you build community as an artist? How has the creative community helped you grow and share your art? Through participating in opportunities, like markets, shows, going to gallery openings, attending artist talks - you have to go out and be a part of the community. I've found that the Seattle community is welcoming and generous, I am so thankful for the relationships I have formed here. I honestly don't know where I would be without that support and encouragement from the artist community, and friends and family along the way.
What artists inspire you? Do you have any favorite blogs, artists, or social media accounts that you’d like to share? Frida Kahlo, Georgia O'Keefe, Kiki Smith, Edmund Dewall, and too many contemporary ceramic artists to list! Instagram has been a great tool for discovering new artists, and collecting books on contemporary ceramics. It's a really exciting and creative time for ceramic art- the shackles of being a outdated traditional craft form have been broken, and the possibilities of the form seem endless!
What are you most excited about right now? The steady growth of my business, and the potential of taking it full time in a few years. To have the dream of being a full-time artist within reach is invigorating!
What are your goals and aspirations for your business? I aspire to create the perfect balance between running a successful wholesale business with my ceramic objects + a professional artistic career through exhibiting at established galleries. The thing that is on the forefront of my mind lately is creating large scale gallery installations. Installation that aren't about making a profit but more about challenging my artistic process and creating an experience that moves people.
All images provided by Kelsey Melville.