Lisa Neimeth | Episode 175
Born in New York City, Lisa Neimeth was influenced early on by the multiples of objects and icons surrounding her, as a young collector. After college, Lisa returned to New York City, where among other things, she sold lemonade on the streets and studied ceramics in private sculpture studios. Creating art remained in the background while pursuing Social and Community work, another passion, throughout the five Boroughs. Traveling was key for her after receiving two Masters Degrees in Social Work and Urban Planning. She traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Central and South America where she was deeply influenced by color, texture and forms observed there.
Lisa moved to San Francisco in 1994, drawn there by the open land, light and ocean. She continued doing Community Work while contemplating new relationships between materials in her sculpture work. In 1997, she gave birth to the first of 2 children – leading her to change her focus and to do art more full time. Capturing images and applying them to clay enables her to create a vision of whimsy and directed randomness. She now focuses mainly on creating rustic, yet refined tableware. She describes them as photographs of her observations transcribed onto clay and made to be used. They incorporate impressed vintage and found object imagery with hand-etched detailing. Her work continues to be influenced by her surroundings and travels and extended time she spends on her property in Northern New Mexico.
She has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, Anthology Magazine, Food and Wine, C magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Western Art and Architecture, Sunset, California Home and Design as well as multiple features in high profile design blogs.
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When you think about creativity do you think it’s a matter of genetics or learned abilities?
I think it’s a real combination. I really do. Some people just really do have creative bones in their body and they have to create and they look at things differently. But I think that you can absolutely develop that. I don’t think you do have to be born with it. I think you can create opportunities to help yourself look at things in different ways to be more creative. I think too many people decide they either are or are not artists.
As a creative person do you think you perceive the world a little bit differently from the rest of the planet?
I think you do. I will either pick crazy things up off the street or notice things that I know people I am with do not notice. Then I take whatever I see and I use that in my work. I think making relationships between things that are not typically related is something that a creative person does.
How does creativity fuel your business?
It’s everything. The way I work, I use a lot of what I see in my designs and I am always coming up with new things so I am constantly on the look out and banking things in my head to transfer to clay.
What would you say is your most successful marketing strategy?
I would say it’s really just helping people to want to use handmade work. I show them the significance of that and that it really can enhance their day. Helping people who might not normally be an art collector, that they could have small pieces of art in many different ways. I try to make it much more accessible.
In order to be a successful artist as you are, Lisa, what do you have to prune from your life and then what do you have to plant in your life?
I think you have to prune impatience and judgement. I think you have to be open to working really hard and taking some rejection and not feeling judged and judging other people for what they are doing. And just really being able to accept what is coming at you but also take control of it as well. Planting flexibility as well, especially if you have a family and I know many artists that do and even if you don’t have a family the regular tugs on your life in general are hard. Plant the other things that you enjoy in your life and keep those going.