An Interview with Elizabeth Collins Hanes, Featured Local Artist
Beautiful Madison, Georgia, located an hour east of Atlanta, is known for lush gardens and historic homes, but it is also both home and haven to an extraordinary number of creatives. From authors to artists and craftspersons, Madison has a thriving art community. At the center of this community is the Madison Artists Guild and Gallery, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to education and encouragement of artistic endeavor in its members and the community through outreach programs, classes and workshops, social gatherings, and support of local artists through MAGallery.
Today's featured artist is a guild member and is currently showcasing her Freaks of Nature exhibit at the gallery. Let's see what Elizabeth Collins Hanes had to say about her work, inspiration, and what advice she would give to new or aspiring artists.
What is your background?
I'm 48 years old. I took a few art classes in college but was pre-med. I dropped out of college and worked as a paramedic. I then married and had my two children (Sarah Beth 23, Jackson 21 currently). I began my art business in 1994. I divorced in 2010, so art became the primary income for my family. I then married Chuck Hanes, another artist, and we live and work together quite happily! We make and teach art.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
No, I never thought of Artist as an occupation. I did very well in school and wanted to be a brain surgeon. My Mom was always artistic and crafty so I was always exposed to art and enjoyed it, but I planned a more “practical” career. I worked as a paramedic until I had children. I DID know I always wanted to have children! I was able to stay home with them and picked back up with the pottery wheel for my own pleasure. I started my art career at that point.
What is your favorite artwork you’ve ever created?
I love sculpting faces, and I love nature. My current line of work, Freaks of Nature, combines my love for the magical fantasy world, nature, and sculpting faces. It is my favorite of my creations so far. In a very basic sense, I love to create a bowl on the pottery wheel. I love to create the continuous curve of a lovely bowl and feel the clay shape with my hands… it is quite soothing.
What time of day do you feel most creative?
I don’t really feel like a certain time of day is best…. I don’t follow a regular schedule, so I just hope that I am able to be in the studio when I am feeling creative. Sometimes I need to work (it is my livelihood!) and I don’t really “feel” it. I try to take care of basics like marketing, or recycling clay, or something that doesn’t require fresh ideas.
How do you make time for your art, and would you say you have a healthy work/life balance?
Again, my husband and I are both full-time working artists. It is our job. It includes all things to run a small business, including bookkeeping, marketing, scheduling, ordering supplies, taxes, etc. Not to mention the actual creating of art… in our case pottery, so making, firing, glazing. Oh, and then we have to sell it! We sell through galleries (commission and wholesale), art festivals, and online platforms.
It is truly full-time, but luckily we love creating art!
Tell us about the space where you create.
We have several spaces that we use… pottery studio, glaze studio, art room, blacksmith, and wood shops. I would say they are pretty organized. It really has to be with so many different media that we both work in. We both are collectors, mostly of natural things like rocks and wood and such, so we don’t have very much empty space anywhere!
What inspires your work?
Most definitely I am inspired by nature. I spend as much time outside as possible… gardening, walking, playing with our goats, chickens, and dogs. I love creating art out of the unexpected. I truly see beauty everywhere and am in constant awe of the natural world. I consider people as part of that natural world, and I love our form and our stories as well.
Tell us a little about your workday as an artist.
My typical day is all over the place! I have ADD, so having a career that requires a lot of bouncing around from one project to another works well for me. If I’m not feeling creative, then I work on aspects that don’t require that--photographing artwork, applying to festivals, bookkeeping, etc. Some days I start creating in the evening, and sometimes I’m ready to create first thing in the morning. I am not great with time management working this way, but it works pretty well with my personality.
As an artist, do you have a favorite tool you use to create?
By far, I love the feel of things in my hands. I prefer to use only my hands whenever possible when creating things out of clay. Well, most anything really. I am extremely tactile.
How do you share or promote your work?
I share my work on social media, specifically Facebook and Instagram. Being involved in the community for many years by teaching art classes, camps, and workshops for adults and children, giving people the opportunity to throw on the wheel at local events, and attending art events has given me a pretty good following in the Madison area. We sell in several galleries and co ops as well as travel to art festivals around the southeast.
Do you have any routines that help you be more creative?
I really am not very good at routines. I’m more of a put out the closest fire first! I am grateful that I can vary most days to suit my mood.
What is your biggest barrier to being an artist or creating art, and how do you address it?
The biggest barrier would be all of the other parts of the business that have to be tended. I’ve listed several examples before, but I definitely wish I could just create art. No marketing, selling, photographing, etc.
How do you determine what you charge for your work?
Pricing….ugh! Not based on materials, that’s for sure. I do try to think of labor hours, certainly. But also, the “wow” factor! Sometimes glazes turn out spectacularly, for example, so I think “what amount of money won’t make me sad to see this go?”
What advice would you give to new artists starting out?
Be flexible and allow yourself to adapt to situations. Don’t feel like you are “selling out” if you make art to make money. The only person you have to please with what you create is YOU!
Shopping small and supporting local businesses also includes the artists who call our community home. Follow my work for more features on local artists, and be sure to stop into MAGallery to see the art in person. The gallery is located at 125 W. Jefferson Street in historic downtown, Madison, Georgia.
For more information about MAGallery or to become a member, visit www.themadisonartistsguild.org/