Conversations with an Artist: Amy Breed of SpaceCat Ceramics
Amy Breed delights in the most charming ways with her monster characters. Fun-loving creatures from her imagination, they bring joy during the best of times and a silly smile when it's needed most.
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
About 6 years ago, I had been working for over a decade as a librarian and was often so busy and exhausted that I never had time for myself or to pursue any hobbies. I signed up for a local Saturday pottery class on a whim (and with some encouragement from people who love me to try and find some time for myself) and realized that working with my hands quieted my mind and nourished my soul. I began to realize that the three hours I spent on Saturday with clay were some of the most important ones in my entire week.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
Whimsy and imagination. Merging creepiness and cuteness. I hope my art makes people happy and lifts their spirit.
Tell us about what influences the direction for your craft.
Visually I like to pull from popular culture: 80’s Sesame Street, creepy toys from the 70s and 80s in the spirit of the original Blythe dolls, Pixar movies–Monsters Inc. for example, and Tim Burton films–like Nightmare Before Christmas. I love art that falls within a creepy/cute spectrum, namely artists: Mark Ryden (known for "Pop Surrealism"), Ray Caesar (also a surrealist and celebrated as the grandfather of digital art), Nicoletta Ceccoli (whimsical and dreamlike), and Marion Peck (another pop surrealist painter).
How has your work developed over time?
When I first started making pottery, I tried to be…well, normal. I made plates and bowls like I saw everyone else doing. But, one day while attempting to make a sculpture, I realized that if I made a monster, I could make it look as weird as I wanted. Humans sort of always need to look like humans, but monsters can be anything you can imagine. From that moment on, I made whatever popped into my head. My monsters have evolved from being smaller and more simplistic into larger and more joyful versions of themselves that I am able to work on for weeks at a time.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
Strangely enough, it’s a wooden spoon. I use it in the beginning of my process to shape my monsters and it really helps them find their own little weirdo bodies. I try to let them organically develop bodies as I shape them and then work with them from there. I love when they have little lumps and bumps to give some character.
Do you collect anything?
Lots of things, actually! Books, plants, crystals, interesting tarot decks, brass animals, sea glass, interesting rocks, tattoos, just to name a few. I’ve always been a collector and am usually the person who will randomly pull an interesting rock out of a pant pocket that I have forgotten I put in there.
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
Well, as a former librarian, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a few books here! I recently listened to the audiobook Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and it actually is the thing that inspired me to put my work out into the world and start to share it with others. When I need inspiration I also read The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune or the Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire. I love a good, dark fairytale and find a lot of artistic inspiration in them.
When I need my soul to be soothed, I watch a guy named Beau Miles on YouTube. He’s an Aussie who is the most optimistic and happy person and is out just trying to find adventure and beauty in everyday life.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
You’re not going to be good at everything the first time you try, it takes practice and that’s okay. There is fun and so much joy in the practice. It also won’t be perfect in the end, but that’s how you know it’s handmade. And don’t be afraid to show people your art, putting it out into the world is scary, but be the weirdo who dares to enjoy it.
Bonus Question: What role has music played for you during COVID or while you work?
I alternate between audiobooks and music while I work, depending on my mood. Music-wise while I work, I listen to a lot of low-fi beats, kpop, 70s and 90s music, and jazz. I went from working with 400 teenagers at a high school pre-COVID to working alone in my studio, so music and audiobooks play a big part in making me feel less alone and motivating me.
~ Bonnie & Jeffrey