AREtsy Featured Member: Chris Massingill

I am very excited to introduce to all of your the next AREtsy featured artist. I was a huge fan of Chris' work, found in her shop here, long before I met her. Her colors were bright and fresh and her designs were different than the usual pottery stuff I had seen on Etsy. When she joined AREtsy she brought in a shop of fresh items and a wealth of things to talk about. I got to meet her last year at The Clothesline Fair in Prairie Grove and was able to share a fair with her again at the Bella Vista Arts and Crafts Festival. If you are ever lucky enough to see her in person, stop and chat - you'll quickly learn why I like her so much!

Tell us a bit about yourself name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.

My name is Chris Massingill and I live in Conway, AR. I have a BFA in Art from U
CA and I’m a certified K-12 Art teacher, but right now, I make and sell my art full time.
I’m a member of the Conway League of Artists and I also participate in some other local art events like ArtsFest.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

I teach a few classes out of my studio including basic handbuilding, wheel throwing and some afterschool art classes for children. I also do some volunteer teaching at my son’s school where I do art projects with his class. He’s in the second grade and so far this year, we’ve folded origami frogs, made some ceramic vases and we made some puppets.

What first made you want to become an artist?

I’ve never wanted to be anything else. When I was younger, I took a lot of photographs that won some contests and even had some of my work in a local art gallery and I wanted to be a photographer for National Geographic. But once I started working in clay I was hooked. And it was only recently that I’ve started seriously thinking about photography again. I’ve always photographed my ceramic work for juried shows and for the web, but now I have some new work that I am photographing and selling as prints and notecards.

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.

My process is a little disorganized. I’m easily distracted and so I am usually working on a lot of projects at the same time. I try to keep regular work hours so I work at my studio from 9-5 most days with some exceptions for paperwork days or kiln loading/unloading, etc. I mostly work in clay, I use a low-fire earthenware clay that I really like for a few reasons: 1. I can get really bright colors at lower temperatures and 2. earthenware clay is a really sturdy clay and I tend to sometimes be a klutz so although it’s not uncommon for things to get knocked off a table or dropped at a show, I rarely lose any pieces to breakage. Most of my work is slab work, so although I love to throw on the wheel, most of the work I sell is actually rolled out with a giant rolling pin and then handformed into new shapes. I am totally obsessed with color and texture and so while many of the impressions on my work are made with handmade stamps that I draw and carve, I also use some rubber stamps which I just can’t seem to collect enough of...

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

This is a really hard question... my house is covered with handmade objects and original art that I have purchased or traded with other artists for over the years and since I know most of the people who have made them, its like asking me to choose one friend over another. I could say it’s a cup that a teacher of mine made that I uses regularly and reminds me of her, or I could pick the giant platter that was my payment for a summer’s worth of work when I did my internship with Lisa Orr, a potter in Austin. But I think that right at this moment, my favorite thing is a drawing that my son Lucas made last week, it’s called “fish man” and it’s on the back of his spelling test.

Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.

my top five books:
All the David Sedaris books
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
We the Living by Ayn Rand
Wicked by Gregory Maguire
and all Harry Potter books

my top five movies:

Across the Universe
Robin Hood (the one with Uma Thurman and Patrick Bergin)
Star Wars (IV, V & VI not I, II & III)

my top five songs/musical groups:
Robert Plant
Fiona Apple
Rufus Wainwright
Liz Phair

& of course, my husband’s band - Chain

my top five websites:
thinkgeek.com (I love their product descriptions!)
imdb.com (the internet movie database where you can look up weird facts and trivia about your favorite movies ,actors and directors)
and google image search (it’s not really a website, but I use it a lot)

How do you promote your work?

Ugh! I hate this part. Let’s see... I sell my work in galleries, I enter competitives, which are expensive, but help to get my name out, I sell at venues like the Little Rock Rivermarket and Argenta ArtWalk, Toad Suck, and other fairs, although I haven’t decided which ones I’m applying to this year.... and I’ve just started using facebook to announce when I put new things in my shop!

What are your favorite things about belonging to AREtsy?

I really like being part of a local group, it really helps to be able to get information about local shows and the best part is when I travel to a sale a few hours away and get to meet people in person!

In ten years I'd like to be...

the same age I am now! taller! skinnier! oh so many things.... but I would really like to be wholesaling my new cards to shops around the country so I spend less time traveling to sales and can have more time in the studio making new things.


Sunny said...

So nice to learn more about you Chris! I'm in love with your letter tiles!

Beth said...

Great to put a face to the name! I do some handbuilding too. Someday I hope to do more. Nice interview!

kellyvanhook said...

Oh, I so love Chris and her work! It's nice to learn more about her! She is a fabulous team member and facebook friend!

idyll hands said...

I have a piece of her work to call my very own! It's so lovely and when I dropped it accidentally while cleaning, it didn't break. Well made! I thought I was about to have a heart attack while it fell.