Meredith Host | Episode 391
Meredith Host was born and raised in Detroit, MI. She received her BFA in Ceramics from Kansas City Art Institute in 2001 and her MFA in Ceramics from The Ohio State University in 2008. She was named one of the 2011 Emerging Artists for NCECA and Ceramics Monthly, and in 2016 was a Presenter at the Utilitarian Clay Symposium. Currently, Meredith is a full time studio potter who teaches workshops around the country and is a founding member of the Kansas City Urban Potters.
Number 1 brand in America for a reason. Skutt.com
For all your ceramic needs go to Georgies.com
How did you break out of your shyness to develop better people skills?
That is actually really tough. I am not sure. It’s just with us talking about it now that I started thinking about it. I think moving around after undergrad, going to different residencies, places where I would have a studio space, so moving almost every year you are in a new group of people and you are thrown into a new crowd. So I think just going through that helped me be a little more open and then not as shy. That’s my guess. I don’t know.
You have your work in some galleries. Did you approach them or did they approach you?
Initially back before I went to grad school I applied to the Clay Studio’s fellowship program and the residency there and I did not get in, but they saw my work and my portfolio from the application and invited to me to be a part of their annual gifted show that year. It was probably 2003 and I was like, Yes, of course! Then that was kind of my in to the gallery circuit. I feel really fortunate that the Clay Studio took a chance on me. I know that because of them I have gotten other opportunities.
How do you find the art fairs or exhibitions to be in?
Well the art fairs locally are on my radar. They are kind of a big deal here and a lot of people go to them. I took my a while to figure out how far in advance you need to apply to these things. I am guilty of missing deadlines for shows I haven’t been familiar with. I have started to maybe branch out to travel a little bit. I am still a little wary of it knowing the expense that goes into the traveling and having to stay somewhere. That is why the local ones have been so great. I would go to the show before hand and see what type of work they had there. If friends did they show I would straight up ask, most people are willing to share a ballpark of what they made and how much is the booth. etc. You can do research a lot of different ways. I don’t really apply to exhibitions any more. I am fortunate enough to get some invites to that type of exhibiting, which is great.
When you are going to an art fair do you have a certain amount of money you want to make for that show?
I don’t have a strict formula. I know what I think is a bad show amount and what is a good show amount. It is hard to say. They booth fees are all fairly comparable. There are ones that I have done say three years in a row and my total goes down every single year. The third year I think maybe I need to stop this one because it is not worth my time. Even though I didn’t lose money, I didn’t make enough to feel like it was worth it to sit there for two and half days. With local shows, because I am local and I now have a shop, some people may think, I’ll get that later. There is not the sense of urgency to buy right now. So that is something that I have been grappling with a little bit.
What is the key to a good booth set up?
I am not the best at it. I try really hard. I think for the booth to not be distracting against the work. You want your work to be the stand out factor. I have specific shelving that I think kind of disappears so the work is what people see. I don’t really make big things so mostly I use shelving versus pedestals. Having a little back area where you can wrap things and it not being totally in plain view, I think is nice. Also you can have a little storage back there. I feel every single show I do I learn something new.
Do you put lighting in your booth?
Yes, I do. I don’t have fancy spotlights or anything or even tracks. What I use is two LED lights that are almost like florescent lights. They are long with two tubes. Man, those give off an amazing light and I just need two of them for the ten by ten area.
How important is the relationship with Kansas City Potters for your growth as a business?
Well ,I think it’s really huge actually for me and I think for all of us. This is something that the seven of us have dedicated our time to and growing together and in the organization. Our spring invitational has been re-branded as the Midwest Pottery Fest and so each year that is growing and mailing lists are building. We are all really dedicated to growing this thing in Kansas city. I mean it’s a really strong group of people and together we can get so much more accomplished than just us individually.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life in terms of ceramics?
Someone I know or someone I don’t know? Let’s see. I have had a lot of mentors throughout my career. I will just go ahead and name three because I can’t narrow it down to just one. Initially right out of undergrad I went back to Michigan and I was never his official assistant but John Glick but when his assistant wasn’t available he would call me. I really feel like I learned to pack from John and I helped him in his retail space. Our time together was brief but it was really an eye-opening experience for how an actual business could be run.
Then when I moved to Rochester, New York, I went to RAT to work with Julia Galloway. Because I wasn’t a real student, it was a residency within the school, I worked for her as a studio assistant. I worked with her for about a year and a half and that was an amazing time where I really figured out that working in a studio was what I wanted to do, versus teaching. Part of that was that Julia does both and does it amazingly well.
Then in grad school I worked with Rebecca Harvey who is an amazing lady. She encouraged me that there was an obvious demand for my work and why wouldn’t I try it out and see what happens and start my own studio. She helped give me the confidence to go for it. I feel like I owe Rebecca so much.