How to Test an Idea | Kristen McDermaid | Episode 361

Kristen McDermaid | Episode 361

Kristen McDermaid is an artist working in Salt Lake City and Park City Utah. She received her MFA in 2015 from the University of Utah. She studied Ceramics at Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea in 2005. Kristen is passionate about making functional, sculptural, and conceptual ceramic works.


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About changing languages: What would be the one thing that you would say if you are going to do an exchange, what is one thing you wish you knew on your way over that you had to discover on your own there?

Man, that’s a big question. I would say, be open but be true to your foundation. I think I tried to fit in too much, but I always came back to my own mindset.

How flexible do your cultural morals have to be when you are somewhere else?

I think you have to be pretty flexible. I think you have to be able to accept completely different ways of thinking because when you are in another country people do not think the way that you do. So if you are not flexible and not accepting it’s going to be hitting a brick wall and you won’t get as much out of it.

What is one thing that you brought back that you absolutely cherish about a certain aspect of your work?

The willingness to see mistakes as possibilities. I let go of perfection when I was there because I didn’t have the mind set or energy to strive for perfection. I had to be in the mess and I really appreciate the mess now.

As a community director you are constantly pouring into the hobbyist and other makers and the people of your community. What do you need to be poured into you to keep your love of making alive?

You know, I pour a lot out but these people pour a lot back to me. So I actually need to community to keep working. They challenge me, they dare me, and  I am not one to let a challenge go. So I think it is a give and take.

How do you balance the time with trying to get your work done for the center  and getting your work done for your own creativity?

That is the hardest part. So I sleep less now and I hate to say it this way, but I am a really tight scheduler. I actually hide in the studio to get my work done. I will come in and answer questions and help out and do studio work fro about an hour and then I will lock myself in the kiln room and get a little bit of work for myself done.

The community center is a full time gig. Do you consider your making a side hustle?

No, I see it as another full-time gig. I will make work at home and bring it with me to the art center so in my head I have two full-time jobs and I’m balancing that. While I’m cooking dinner, I’m also drawing lines on my work. I do fit it in and around my life more.  The art center hours are the art center hours so I have to be there but I get to travel with my work and live with my work so it works. But it is not a side gig. I think of it as my full-time other job.

Well then how important are sales to you?

They are fairly important just because I have a goal of where I want to be. Sales, that is the interaction part. That’s where people take your work into their lives and it might become a part of their daily ritual. I will have people come back to my Farmer’s Market booth and say, I use your cup every day!  I love that. I made this thing and you use it every day, that is like the juice for me. I am going to go make more! So they are fairly important, the interaction and I like the money too.

If you could give your work to one movie-star, who would it be and why?

How about TV star?


I would give a handmade wheel-thrown mug to probably Jimmy Fallon. On the tonight show he has his tonight show mugs and tshirts and I think a little appreciation of handmade thing in that world would be a good thing.


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