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Check Out Katie Anderson’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Anderson.

Katie, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I have always enjoyed creating art for as long as I can remember. I took art and photography classes in high school and went on to major in Studio Art from the University of Iowa. It was at college that I fell in love with making pottery. I really enjoyed the process and the comradery that came with being a part of the Ceramics program.

While I always had the dream of being a full-time artist, I decided early on in college that teaching art might be a more realistic option for pursuing an art career. However, I was ahead on my classes and wasn’t able to join the teaching program as soon as I would have liked. I ended up getting antsy and graduated from college in 2003 with a major in studio art and a minor in art history. I moved to the Black Hills, SD the day after graduation. I spent the next 3 years working odd jobs and taking a hiatus from art and pottery. In 2006 I met and married my husband, Paul, and we moved to Sundance, Wyoming. I continued working odd jobs, but I also bought a tabletop pottery wheel and found an old kiln and I slowly got back into making again. Around 5 or 6 years later, after having our son, Wilson, I decided that I would like to continue the pursuit of earning a teaching degree. I found an online program through Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD that allowed me to earn a teaching degree and a Master’s degree in the span of one year.

During this year, we relocated again, this time to Leadville, CO where we still reside. I was able to student teach in Leadville with two wonderful art teachers who are now two of my now closest friends. I ended up getting hired as the art teacher at a newly restructured elementary school, teaching Kindergarten through 2nd grade. While I was teaching, I kept making pottery, slowly growing my business working part-time after school and on the weekends. There were a lot of late nights and long days for about 2 or 3 years as I kept getting busier. While I really enjoyed teaching, I knew that my true passion was in making pottery, and I knew that the current schedule I was keeping was not sustainable. I set a five-year goal to transition into making art full-time. It turns out that life had other plans for me. The summer of COVID laid out a series of events for me that led to my resignation from teaching at the beginning of the 2020 school year. I skipped ahead on my five-year plan and I jumped into being a full-time artist with both feet. Now here I am, almost two years later, making functional pottery full-time for small businesses in Leadville and a few surrounding areas.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
There have definitely been struggles along the road.

It took three attempts at registering for school the second time before I could make it work to go back to school, going to school full time while moving to a different state and also caring for a two-year-old was not an easy task.

There is a huge learning curve to making pottery. It takes lots and lots of practice. There is also a lot for one to learn with the process of choosing clay and glaze and firing a kiln. And I haven’t even stepped into the world of making your own clay and glaze. I have tried countless different clay bodies and glazes. So many items were ruined in the process. There is always more to learn.

I went through two old kilns before purchasing a new kiln. There were many loads in those old kilns that didn’t get fired properly and everything inside was ruined. The final straw was when I had a firing overfire and it got so hot that even the kiln shelves warped. I’m lucky I didn’t burn down the house. I lifted the lid, looked inside, closed the lid and walked away for about two months. At this time, I took the leap and purchased a new kiln, and I am so glad that I did. Now I even have a second, larger kiln on the way.

Owning your own business is not an easy task, especially for an artist whose mind does not work in numbers. I have learned so much in the last few years. There are so many behind the scenes things that need to be completed in order to be self-employed and I’m slowly getting it figured out. I’ve been lucky to have the help of my husband with the numbers side of things, and my brother, Chris, has been an awesome resource as he has been self-employed for years. I’ve been so lucky to have always had amazing support from my family.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I mostly create functional pottery, but I also do some painting. The majority of my sales are wholesale to a number of businesses. I sell mostly in Leadville but also Twin Lakes, Breckenridge, Steamboat, Copper Mountain, Moab, UT, Lead, SD and Sundance, WY.

The majority of what I make are mugs, but I also create bowls, plates, platters, decorative signs, ornaments and magnets. My favorite thing to make are bowls of all sizes. I also do some printmaking and I paint small paintings that include inspirational quotes.

I get my inspiration from the world around me. My other passion, other than creating art, is mountain biking and spending as much time as possible outside with my family and friends. I love going on adventures, both solo and with others, and I bring trees, mountains and bikes into my work for others to enjoy.

Honestly, what I am most proud of is the fact that I am able to make a living creating art full time. There is something very special about being able to do what you love every day. If you would have told me ten years ago that I would actually be making art full time I would have thought you were nuts. I am lucky to have had the encouragement of family and friends all along the way, who have always believed I could do it. It took me a while to get here but I am so proud of what I have accomplished and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What were you like growing up?
My parents always have said that I was quiet at home, but they were told I was outgoing at school. I do remember always being quite social and that I made friends easily. I was always very involved in school. I ran cross country and track and played golf. I played the clarinet in the band and was a part of the student senate. I got good grades, my favorite subjects were art, of course, and English. I used to babysit a lot, and I got a job as soon as I was able, working at a pizza place (the first of many) and working for summer camps during the summer.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Photo of me: Ann Stanek

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