PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Allyson Bone is artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She completed her MFA in Metals at SUNY New Paltz in 2011. Allyson has experience teaching, working in her own studio, as well as completing production and freelance CAD work.
Please give a short bio of the path you have taken to your current state in life through education, employment, residencies, and other artistic ventures.
I started college at the University of Iowa majoring in Psychology, and added the generic major of “Studio Art” when I discovered metals. I got my BA in the standard four years, and went right into grad school for Jewelry and Metal Art at University of Iowa as soon as I graduated. I finished two of the three years of the graduate program before I left, earning an MA. I left early mostly because I was borrowing a substantial amount of money, and felt the need to re-evaluate my goals before adding more onto my growing debt. I then worked full time as a Research Assistant in a clinical psychology lab. All research projects have an expiration date (aka grant money) and the project I was working on was about finished. I was still making jewelry, and decided I should finally leave Iowa, and applied to go to SUNY New Paltz. I was accepted and moved to New York. A few months into living there I applied for an internship in NYC at a costume jewelry company. My time there was short, but I enjoyed it. Upon graduating I contacted them to see if they had any positions open, and they hired me as a Designer, with an emphasis on CAD modeling. About a year after starting that job, I quit to focus on my work again. Now I am sustaining myself on freelance CAD modeling for various jewelry companies in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Leafy Ring (Pair), sterling silver, onyx, 2012.
How where you financially able to make things work during your journey to where you are now? (teaching, unrelated jobs, selling of your work, financial support from a partner or family, loans…. please be as general or specific as you are comfortable with)
I have always had a job since it was legal for me to do so. I am the type of person that needs to be busy to get things done. I taught classes whenever I could, but also had assistantships in the Psych department at Iowa and in the Digital Fabrication Laboratory at New Paltz. I also worked at a bead store, doing standard shop clerk stuff and also teaching customers how to do basic wire wrapping. My goal was always to borrow the least amount of money as possible. I did sell my work at galleries and during exhibitions, but that money really just fueled my studio and materials for more work. I have also had support from my boyfriend-turned-husband. While we have always gone Dutch on our shared expenses, without his income I could not have quit my Design job a few months ago.
Necklace #6 (Two Lids), sterling silver, reconstructed onyx, nylon, 2011.
Please estimate the break down of the percentage of your time (in a week or month) spent in your studio, at related jobs, unrelated jobs, marketing, working with galleries, craft fairs, time with family and friends, or other relevant categories.
I tend to do things in chunks- either it’s a CAD day, or a bench day, or a paperwork/housework day. If I have less than three hours to work at my bench I just won’t do it. I have to get into a groove, and when I start actually making progress on something I don’t want to stop. My freelance work always has priority. I do some bench work for hire, but mostly just CAD. I would say that emailing is one thing that is a constant. It takes up roughly an hour of everyday- whether with galleries, clients, vendors, or keeping in touch with friends and family back home. I work from my apartment, so to prevent insanity I try to plan at least one thing every day that makes me leave my apartment in Park Slope. I run a few times a week, go grocery shopping, run errands- things like that. I also spend a lot of time cooking. Because my schedule is so irregular, I usually end up working on the weekend as well.
Looking back at the opportunities you have had which do you feel have directed or benefited your current path the most? Are there things you would have done differently, opportunities you would not have taken, bigger risks you would have made, etc?
Every small achievement I’ve had has been important; each show I’m invited or accepted to, every gallery I’ve signed on with, and each piece that sells helps me reaffirm that I am doing the right thing. I am very glad I decided to go to New Paltz to grad school because I was forced to question my motivations and almost every aspect of my work, which made me realize my priorities as a maker. I also know that without having moved across the country for my education, there is no way I would’ve done the internship that led to some invaluable career experience in industry. I really haven’t passed up any significant opportunities that have come my way, and I’m happy to say I don’t have any regrets about my path so far.
Necklace #5 (Parting Lips), sterling silver, coral, nylon, 2011.
Where do you hope your career will be in five years? (Especially in relationship to the breakdown of your time spent in the studio, at related jobs, unrelated jobs, teaching, with family. Are there galleries you hope to be in? Have a solo exhibition? Have studio employees, bookkeeper, etc?)
Because we are in such a niche field, I feel that I need to be open to wherever opportunities present themselves. For that reason I don’t have any specific goals. I am currently excited about growing my CAD skills and seeing where that takes me professionally and where it guides my work. I would love to teach someday and share what I’ve learned, but I can also see myself going into production. No matter what my day job ends up being, the one thing I want to be sure of is that five years from now, I will still actively be making work and continue to participate in our essential community of makers and metalsmiths.
Feel free to ask questions in the comment section. Also, be sure to view more of Allyson's work on her website at http://www.allysonbone.com.
A short breakdown of my 74 years...First year of college at University of Southern California took ceramic course by chance under Susan Peterson and Carlton Ball. Saw Carlton throwing one day, asked what was he making and he replied, "Fence posts." That told me anything goes with clay and I went to the clay sculpture direction, transferring to the Ohio State University. After three years in the Army, tended bar, worked in a clothing shop, and eventually got a summer teaching job at Maryland Art Institute teaching ceramics. From there to a full time teaching job at a college preparatory highschool where I taught for three years. Got my Masters degree and then took a full time teaching job at Towson University, teaching there for 35 years. Now retired, living in Aiken, South Carolina, and still working on my clay sculpture in my home studio. Doing a panel presentation at the next NCECA conference in Houston, Texas, this March, titled "Aesthetics and Aging", a prelude to NCECA 2014 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I have put together an exhibition of clay artists all over the age of 70, called "Old Hands In Clay, which will have 42 persons from American and Europe, each with two pieces. Now I am watching television, the 2012 US Tennis Open, then lunch with my lovely wife, Pauline. That's it to this moment. Tom Supensky
Thank you so much for these interviews. I love hearing how other artists are getting from point A to point B
Wonderful. I know people are looking at them, but never really sure if they are of interest. Glad you are enjoying them, only a few more to go.