Tabbatha Henry | Episode 379
Tabbatha Henry is a ceramic artist, designer, and educator in Vermont. A sculptor by nature, Tabbatha currently runs a business creating translucent porcelain lighting and site specific installation sculpture. Tabbatha’s work can be purchased in fine art galleries across the country, as well as a catalog or two, online via Tabbatha’s website, and in her flagship retail and design studio.
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How do you find the fine line between the market and the muse?
I think I follow my heart when I am making something and then I am lucky enough to be able to put it out there and listen to the market in a relatively quick fashion so I can adjust. But I think it starts with the core of me and what I want to make and what the clay says to me. Then I will tweak it based on the feedback I get.
What do you look for in your buyers to know whether or not they are responding? Is it strictly just the purchase or is there something more than that?
I think it’s more than that. You know because people will come in and they won’t necessarily buy all the time but they will engage over a specific piece and ask me questions about my process. I think those interactions are just as important for solidifying whether something is successful.
When you are dealing with your customers what kind of questions do you ask them to get a better understanding of what they are thinking?
That’s a good question. I don’t know, I think you know if they are hemming and hawing about a purchase I will try to draw out of them where they see the piece in their home or what kind of feeling they are trying to get or what is their hesitation.
How much are you willing to tweak your work to satisfy your audience?
As long as I don’t feel as if my artistic integrity is being compromised, I am OK with it. There’s boundaries but as long as I don’t feel like I am selling out or anything like that then I’m game. I like a challenge too so if there is something that someone wants that I have not done before that is outside of my comfort zone then I will be open to that. Sometimes people will ask me for crazy things and I will have to say no and was a hard thing for me to learn, to say no.
When you do commission work do you charge differently?
Yes. It depends on the project. I will do custom installations and I have pieces that I do regularly that have a specific charge. But if someone wants a different design on a luminary say, I will have a design fee. We will go back and forth for a couple rounds for that. It depends on the project, but generally there is a fee involved for my time.
My last question for you is: How do you get yourself rejuvenated?
That is a good question. Living here in Vermont I am very lucky. I can go for a hike in the woods. Anytime in nature is really inspiring to me and calming and sort of allows my brain some space to wander and think and be free of all the day to day stuff that pecks at you.