Callandra Smith gives a great JobShadow interview about her career as a mosaicist. You can find her on her website at www.pureblisscollection.com.
What do you do for a living?
I am an artist who designs and creates art and home décor pieces through the fine art discipline of mosaics. This is my business.
How would you describe what you do?
To best describe what I do I will say that I take a number of individual materials and arrange them in a way that ends in complete work of art.
What does your work entail?
My job entails a number of duties: painting, gluing, cutting, designing, and color matching to name a few.
What’s a typical work week like?
A typical work-week for me involves marketing myself and my artwork to potential buyers and then fulfilling orders that come in from my marketing efforts. I also set aside time for inventory control and bookkeeping.
How did you get started?
My initial introduction to the art of mosaics was from a relative during the time of a death in the family. She helped me pick out my tools and materials and left me to use my imagination to produce a work or art. My first project was a set of round coasters. Family and friends began seeing my projects and requesting them and that was the genesis of my mosaic art business.
What do you like about what you do?
There is so much I love about my mosaic art business. I love the ability to take nothing and create something. There is also joy in being able to get the intangible ideas and designs running around in my head out into something visible and tangible.
What do you dislike?
I can’t really think of anything I dislike about my mosaic art business. I view all that comes along with it as a part of the entrepreneurial process and embrace it as a learning tool.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I collect money whenever someone purchases an item. This is mainly a direct selling business.
How much do people in your field make?
There is really no set salary for a mosaicist. Your income is dependent upon a number of factors- a few being your product pricing and business expenditures, whether or not you are putting your money back into your business as opposed to taking money out, and the rate at which you are moving product as a result of sales.
How much money do you make starting out?
Starting out is where you are building up your inventory, testing the market, and learning your customer so regular money is inconsistent.
What education or skills are needed to do this?
No formal education is needed to be a mosaicist. Anyone who has an eye for design and can grasp the technique can become a mosaicist. I am self-taught in my art. The rest is instinct. Never underestimate the power of instinct.
What is most challenging about what you do?
There are a few challenges I face in my line of business. The first is explaining to people what it is I do and what mosaics are. There are a lot of people who have not heard of mosaics. The second is getting across the amount of hard work that goes into completing a work of art and the last is conveying the amount of time that is needed to complete just one piece of work. When you factor in design, application, and drying time one project can take days to complete.
What is most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of my work is hearing someone say that when they gave an art piece designed and created by me to a loved one or friend, the recipient cried or was so overjoyed by the beauty of the artwork. Also the fact that my customers say my work brings a sense of tranquility is a blessing.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
If you are considering a career as a mosaicst, you must have patience and tenacity to see a project through from inception to completion. A project takes days if not weeks to complete. You must be able to see a project through to the end and have a love for this line of work.
How much time off do you get/take?
Because there is no set work schedule as a mosaicist you can take time off as you please but it is wise to consider that any down time should be dedicated to marketing efforts and building up your inventory/portfolio.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
A very common misconception is that handmade artwork is to be compared to mass-produced work and priced accordingly. Handmade artwork is never to be compared to mass-produced work. No price can be put on the nights you wake up from your sleep with designs dancing around in your head and having to capture them in a hurry on paper before the next one comes and goes. No price can be put on the incomparable gift you have been given to do what you do best. When you invest in the work of an artist, you get work of a unique quality along with a visual appeal that is a by-product of thought and imagination.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
A dream of mine is to have a brick and mortar gift boutique of special finds with an art gallery in the midst and to teach the wonderful art of mosaics to aspiring mosaicist.
What else would you like people to know about what you do?
Performing arts and visual arts have always been a love of mine. I am so blessed to have an opportunity to do what I love and put a smile on someone’s face.