August 10, 2007

Circa Ceramics

Artists: Andrew Witt + Nancy Pizarro
Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Web site: We have 2, because we separate our clay body types; the more active one is for porcelain, for our earthenware, used more as a reference for our customers.

What do you create?
Ceramic wares, tiles, assorted fun items made with clay.

How did you come up with your business name?
We came up with the name in a roundabout way, sort of like soft word association. It started off as 'Circa 1999' but then we nixed it because we figured we'd be dating ourselves. Then we started to think of what the word 'circa' meant, and thought hey, we can call ourselves 'circa ceramics.' The logo we came up with was totally influenced by restaurant tableware from the 50's, where you saw the name of the producer and the city or state of origin. It's fun seeing the reactions we get from people when they see our name on the bottom of pieces!

What is your first memory of being inspired to make/craft something?
(andy) I think I was born in a sand box-I remember being fascinated by water and sand; I would spend hours building "landscapes" out of these 2 materials.

(nancy) Being in a classroom, age 5, for a weekend art retreat. They gave us cookies :) I do remember india ink & a sumi brush. And newsprint!

When and why did you decide to start your business?
November 2000. We did our first craft show and had a great time. We realized at that point we could be independent, and actually make a go of it; we went full time in the Spring of 2003.

Where do you get your inspiration for your projects?
Eating at restaurants, drinking at coffee houses and looking at commercial tableware and how people use and interact with it. Also, we have an endless supply of suggestions from the people we meet.

Which of the tools you use is your favorite?
(andy) My plaster moulds - they turn negatives into positives :)
(nancy) My hands! But our Gocco comes in a close 2nd :)

What is your favorite part of your creative process?
(andy) 2 am: "Hey Nancy-what if we..."
(nancy) 2:05 am: "but Andy, what about..."

What keeps you motivated?
(andy) The cycle of idea-create-edit-produce-sell-feedback-
(nancy) Andy :)

How do you get the word out about your work?
Honestly, much of our business comes from word of mouth, at least for our earthenware line, which we bring to fairs & festivals. The porcelain line, which is on Etsy, is self-sustaining, and luckily on the radar of some really lovely blogs. We bring some of the porcelain pieces to events too, and talk to customers about being on Etsy. We also have a mailing/email list &
our Flickr account (because people often don't know it's really just 2 people making all of this ware!)

What is your main goal for the next 6-12 months?
(andy) Getting through the Chicago winter.
(nancy) *shaking her head at Andy* Getting ready for the holiday/gift-giving season from October to December - It's a very important time for our business! Then we usually do a 'creative hibernation" from January to March, where all the notes & drawings from the previous year get a second look.

What advice would you give to someone starting a creative business?
(andy) Whatever you are selling make sure it is made to the best of your abilities.
(nancy) Know your competition, and make sure you stand out.

What’s the most important thing you’d like people to know/understand about your work?
That these pieces really do reflect both of our personalities.

What adjectives would you use to describe your work?
Solid, balanced, happy, cheerful, a little weird...

Who are some of your favorite indie designers/artists?
(andy) I have really been enjoying Whitney Smith's journey to Japan.
(nancy) I have to go for 'back in the day indie' - Jane Hammond. I LOVE her paintings. And Magic Jelly. And Art and Ghosts.

If money, deadlines, scheduling, etc weren’t an obstacle what new project would you like to take on?
(andy) I would build a factory that makes tableware using flyash from coal fired electrical plants.
(nancy) This is so slacker of me, but I have to say take on an MMORPG - for as long as possible :)

What's your definition of a perfect day?
(andy) Spending it with Nancy!
(nancy) *snickers* I'd have to say being productive - Getting everything done that we had to do on that day.

Thank you Nancy and Andy!


TrueMirage said...

Circa caught my eye as soon as I joined etsy - such wonderful designs! Thanks for an interesting interview.

Prolix fromla Normandie said...


how great!!!


{ThE fReNcH tOuCh}