Lina Alvarez | Episode 256
Lina Alvarez was drawn to art at an early age. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2006, Lina graduated from the University of Georgia, where she taught art to children at Lyndon House Arts Center and earned her BA in Studio Art with a concentration in Ceramics. Originally from Medellin, Colombia, Lina’s art is a hybrid of cultures and embodies many qualities—some pieces may be precise and simple, while others are loose and organically shaped. Lina currently focuses on chic and functional utilitarian pottery, which is available inside Good Dirt LA’s artist shop and on Etsy. Lina believes in cultivating creativity and encourages her students to leave their expectations behind. “The creating and making processes are truly therapeutic and enjoyable for me,” she says. “But nothing brings me more joy than knowing that others actually use my work as part of their daily routines. It’s that tea they have before bedtime, or the coffee that helps them start the day. It’s like I’m passing along a little bit of my love to them, since I feel that each of my pieces were created with the most loving of intentions.”
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What’s the number one thing a person ought to be thinking about when running a business?
I think I’d focus on the customer more than anything. If I were the customer I would think to myself if I would like that; would that make me want to come back to that place? So I think that whoever your audience is that you are targeting, become them and give them what they would like. It can be simple things. For instance, I have a tea section in my studio and all the ladies come and make themselves tea and they feel at home. So it’s a little thing but the thinking is to ask who is this business for, and then cater towards that.
How important is it to have support staff around you?
It’s the most important thing. Even the small decisions I talk to the staff and ask What do you guys think of doing a chocolate and pottery workshop? Do you guys think it’s crazy? Hands are dirty… would people want to do that? And people will tell me, I’ll do that! We eat all the time with dirty hands. I am trying to find out if they think it’s okay and they think it is so we go for it. I have a teacher that has been a potter for forty years and she’s been teaching forever, and I go to all the time for advice. I think that’s important.
Does delegating to others require having to let go of the ego?
I always say that this doesn’t even feel like my studio. It belongs to everybody. We’ve all made it the place that it is.
How do you find the time to be creative yourself?
So this is the sad part… I’m not. This is very depressing. I was looking to buy a potters wheel so I could make more pottery and now I have eight wheels and I have made five pieces in a year and half. This is because I am busy teaching, thinking of workshops, planning events, I am planning who to bring in to teach workshops… So I am thinking about being innovative which I think is the new way I am being creative.
Do you think you think that being a creative director is less significant than being a creative maker?
No, but I love the process of making. I know that running a studio takes a lot of creativity. At the same time I think that making is what helped me get better in the first in the first place (from fibromyalgia). You also feel a sense of pride when you make with your hands.
If you could come up with a plan to be making more, what would that look like for you?
I am working on it. My boyfriend has a garage in his house and I took a potters wheel there and my tools. I am hoping that if I am far from the studio, I’ll be able to make pottery.
Where does someone get the courage to do something as big as Good Dirt LA?
Maybe from all my life experiences all together. Having a million different jobs, working my way through college and paying for it, rejections from acting jobs… I’d say that the courage that I had was built from my lifelong story.