Amicable Aster Dinner Plate. Designed by Molly Hatch, manufactured by Anthropologie. Image courtesy of Anthropologie.

In a world that seems to favor the fast and the cheap, it can be difficult to sustain a career as a maker of handmade objects. In fact, I think artists work harder than anyone I know to sustain their careers. Even with a successful exhibition career, a teaching gig, and selling her pots, Molly Hatch was familiar with these issues.

 

Then she got a very intriguing email. The major retailer Anthropologie was interested in partnering with her to produce a line of dinnerware for the store. And suddenly Molly had found herself in another role: pottery designer (and fabric designer, and gift tag designer, and upholstery designer, and more!) In today’s post, Molly explains how this turn of events came about and gives advice for other potters hoping to receive similar emails! – Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

 


In addition to the Anthropologie line, Hatch still exhibits work in galleries, such as this piece, which appeared at the Ferrin Gallery.

 

Since my mugs hit shelves at Anthropologie stores in July of 2011, many people in our ceramics community have been openly curious about how they too might turn their handmade pots into designer products. This has been a challenging question for me to answer. Usually the first question I am asked about working with Anthropologie is about how the store found my work. I had assumed that I was found through a blog posting or through my Etsy shop, but it turned out it was a buyer who saw my work at Greenwich House Pottery in New York and made an internal recommendation for a tabletop buyer to look me up.

 

So they find artists the same way you or I might. Buyers go to major art fairs and craft shows and they travel a lot looking for new and interesting products. Whenever they visit cities, they do extensive research about the local art community, art events, and gallery openings. Often studio visits or gallery visits are set up in advance to see as much work in person as possible. 

 


 

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It is important to understand the many different ways that artists work with any retailer. The way I have been working with Anthropologie, for the most part, is as a product designer. I bring prototypes to their production team and the product is manufactured with help from Anthropologie. More recently, I have evolved into working as a surface designer in multiple departments throughout the company. Most commonly, artists work with Anthropologie as vendors, hand making work for Anthropologie to retail in their stores and online. Occasionally Anthropologie buyers will purchase flatwork (like paintings and drawings) in order to bring them back to their design team and work with the artwork as a surface for anything from tableware to fabrics.

 

So, really, the process for being “discovered” is no different than developing a career as a ceramic artist. My advice to readers pursuing a career as a designer is no different than advice I might give to readers seeking a successful career showing work as an artist. Make good work and be open minded to alternative ways of making your work, and the rest will simply follow.

 

To learn more about Molly Hatch or see more images of her work, please visit www.mollyhatch.com.

 


 

 For more great functional insights from contemporary potters, be sure to download your free copy of Contemporary Pottery: Functional and Conceptual Considerations for Handmade Pottery.

 


 

 
 
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