We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Knapp and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?
It was a combination of multiple decisions that have contributed over time to my success. I knew early on that I wanted to work for myself and be in charge of my schedule but I also knew I wanted to be a mom. I was told by an art professor early in my college career that you could be a successful artist or have a family but not both. So one of the biggest decisions was that no matter what I wanted to keep a balance in my life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart from other potters in my area is that I make both functional pottery and wearable ceramic art. I make unique home décor items and large statement pieces as well. I enjoy including nature into each piece I create. I use natural elements in all of my work including stone, jute, leather, ferns, bone, and wood. Making use of recycled materials is also important to me. Living on our small family farm keeps me connected to nature and helps me incorporate that into my work. All of that is easy for me to say now but it was not always the case. I really struggled with who I was as an artist when I first got out of college. I remember the first show I did, it did not go as planned. I was making and selling the same stuff I had worked on in college that just wasn’t true to who I was as an artist. I definitely had an epiphany after that show… how could I sell my work if my heart wasn’t 100% in it? I took the next year really exploring and creating work that I was extremely proud of. I remember the piece that changed it all, I still have it. It may seem silly but I felt like that one piece was a defining moment and it completely changed my entire art career.
I think one of the biggest lessons I learned was to not sell myself short. I needed to be proud of my work and make sure before anyone else that I saw worth in it. I was really hard on myself in the beginning when I wouldn’t get a sale or if someone didn’t see the value I saw. Now having overcome that I feel my brand is even stronger because I am 100% in love with the things I produce.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ok, so I am a nature person for sure! I would take them hiking or maybe even to do a little kayaking. Any day spent outside in the woods or on the water is a good day! I have a ton of local favorite hikes all within an hour or so of Atlanta. One of the best days was when we woke up early and hiked Kennesaw Mountain. After the hike we made it in time to shop at the local farmer’s market right in downtown Marietta. The square holds a special place in my heart; I used to go there all the time with my grandparents. Although if a friend was coming into town I would absolutely have them come out to my farm and art studio. We could even get a little creative in the studio where I teach pottery classes. We also have over 85 animals on the property so there is half a day right there just petting all of them!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have a few! I think one of the main people I would shout out would be to my grandmother, Jean Ledford. She was the main reason I got into art in the first place. I use to spend the summers with her and we were always doing some kind of amazing art and craft project. She use to have a wheel in her basement and I remember going down and being absolutely awful but having a blast none the less. I had some great high school teachers through the years that really inspired my art journey. So here is a shout out to them! Thank you Mrs. Moore, Mrs. Lewis, Mrs. Bentley, and Mrs. C Two of my favorite college professors that really had an impact on me were Keith Smith and Maria Sarmiento. I think my teaching style reflects them in many ways. I of course have to shout out to the Art Station in Kennesaw where I teach pottery. They have always given me the freedom to teach how I want and that has been such an amazing experience! I also have so many creative peers it would take me forever to shout out to all of them. Last but not least my family for always supporting me and encouraging me to follow my heart and pursue what makes me happy.