We had the good fortune of connecting with Stacy Morgan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Stacy, how do you think about risk?
Taking risks is vital for me as an artist and business person. It is far too easy to stay in a safe comfort zone, get complacent, and then inevitably get stuck. As a business person, I took a huge risk committing to becoming a full time potter and sculptor, a big risk moving my studio to a public space with overhead costs and without putting myself out there, I would not have succeeded. That move opened doors for me that I did not even know existed. I am now also the program manager for the Alabama Visual Arts Network, and I’m able to serve my fellow artists as well as focus on my own artistic career. As an artist and maker, its the same: If I am not willing to take risks and step out of my comfort zone, my work would stagnate.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started my career as a ceramic artist after walking out of a ten year career in sales, marketing and advertising. In that field, I was absolutely miserable. It was like trying to hammer myself into the wrong shaped space. I left my job, and decided to take some time to recover and regroup by diving back into art. I had not touched the clay in over 20 years, but I was instantly obsessed all over again, and one accidental sale on social media lead to another, and I decided to commit to it full time as my career. Diving in head first is not the easiest way to approach a career in art, but its the only way I know how to do things. I don’t regret it at all, and the drive to not fail kept me motivated and constantly trying new approaches to both my work and running a small business. My husband was a huge moral support, and on the inevitable days that I questioned my sanity for doing this, he always encouraged me to keep going.
The experience I gained in marketing and sales helped me tremendously as an artist. To sell my work for a living, I have to be comfortable with putting myself out there relentlessly, networking, self promoting and being flexible.
I’ve learned to adapt readily, especially over the last three years. If one thing doesn’t work, you try another. If there’s a pandemic and you can’t sell in person, you learn to sell more online and do virtual workshops. It’s a constant hustle, but I love it.
I’ve learned the value of cultivating multiple streams of income. If one stream slows, there are always others to fill the gaps.
Working in clay as a potter and sculptor is demanding, and very time sensitive. It’s easy to work 7 days a week. This year, I’ve really focused on the importance of balancing studio time, administrative time and my personal life. Without downtime spent enjoying life, its hard to stay inspired and creative.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had a friend coming to visit me in Huntsville, the very first place I’d take them is Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment to see the studio, tour the facility and meet the other artists and staff. We’d have lunch down the street at Bandito Burrito, a legendary local burrito joint, and then visit Straight to Ale, one of our many great local breweries, for beverages. Before the sunset, we’d head up to Monte Sano, and visit Burritt on the Mountain and Monte Sano State Park to watch the sun set into the mountains. No trip to Huntsville would be complete without a visit to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center to see the Saturn 5 in person, and we’d have to spend some time walking around the charming downtown area and Big Spring Park.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Social media has played a huge part in my success as a maker. I am, along with 7 other ceramic artists, an administrator for Clay Buddies, a group of 43,000 ceramic artists on Facebook. The endless support I’ve been given through the group, the relationships I’ve formed, and the opportunities I connected with have been instrumental in my growth as a ceramic artist.
Also, I am eternally grateful to my creative home, Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment in Huntsville, Alabama. It is the Southeast’s largest privately owned arts facility. My studio is housed there, and through the support of that community, I’ve encountered so many opportunities and relationships that have propelled me forward, I am challenged, inspired, and supported by not only my fellow artists, but by the staff and the public that comes to engage with local artists.