Life Over Lattes: An Original Collaboration with Field of Artisans
When artist Katrina Meehan left the Big Apple to return to the southern coast of her home state in Rhode Island, she was greeted with an epiphany. Her plans of selling her artwork locally suddenly came to standstill once she realized there were no real consistent markets for artists.
What many would view as a disappointing setback, Katrina’s eyes glimmered with inspiration as she saw this as a thrilling opportunity. It was during this moment Field of Artisans was born.
As an avid fan and follower of this original collaboration, I couldn’t have been more ecstatic when Katrina agreed to be featured on Life Over Lattes. Not only do I admire Katrina as an artist and individual, I find the story behind Field of Artisans to be extremely inspiring. Using art as her medium, Katrina has since built a community for all types of creatives, and has established a strong platform where local artisans can sell, connect and get exposure. Talk about being a creator!
Katrina and I first met in New York City. While we only worked briefly together, I could tell there was something special about this leading lady. Not only did her big, friendly smile light up any room she entered, but she also radiated such positive vibes that left you captivated by her presence. I’m telling you, Katrina is the type that’s just good for the creative soul!
But before I run even further off on a tangent, let me go ahead and introduce Katrina’s story. Below, she describes the evolution of Field of Artisans, the challenges she’s faced on her entrepreneurial journey, as well as what she’s most excited about for the Field’s upcoming 3rd summer season!
Get ready to be inspired….
Name: Katrina Meehan
Location: South Kingstown, Rhode Island
Field of Artisans is such a unique and fun concept. How did you come up with the idea of starting this original collaborative?
After leaving New York City, the thought of being outside and enjoying southern Rhode Island’s beautiful coast was very exciting to me. [Before my move] I had started making leather jewelry and selling it at markets in NYC—in addition to my full-time job. So, I thought I would do the same when I got to Rhode Island until I found other work.
However, I soon found out there really wasn’t a consistent market that provided artists with the opportunity to interact with the summer crowd in southern Rhode Island, which is very different [from what I was used to in NYC.] Though there are some established art festivals, they are all one-time events and can be a little intimidating at such a large scale. I’m always trying to prove one can make a living through art, and consistent platforms really assist an artist in making this happen.
The Field of Artisans collaborative came out of this observation, and it has evolved and embraced its name even further.
A huge focus of Field of Artisans is the community. While selling is obviously important, what sets Field of Artisans apart is the artist’s support and the connections he or she can make. I spend a lot of time promoting the “Field” of artists on social media and in the press. I often receive inquires for commission work recommendations, and I happily connect clients with artists from the “Field” who may fit their needs. I absolutely love making these connections!
And last summer, we added a resident photographer, TJ Thran, who takes professional pictures of each artist’s work and booth. The artists are free to use these images for their websites and their future endeavors. Professional images make a huge difference when applying for jobs, markets, etc. And that’s part of the community the “Field” cultivates. Many artists have expressed they find it beneficial to be surrounded by the other artists’ booths and the friendships they make. The appreciation for handmade work becomes stronger and the connections are invaluable.
You previously worked in merchandising at Kate Spade in New York City. How did that experience shape your career path moving forward?
What drew me to NYC, kept me there, and still tempts me is the constant feeling of possibility. Every single person I met or worked with was on their own personal journey to be the best. It’s incredibly inspiring to me to be surrounded by people who have such original ideas, crazy dreams, and wholeheartedly believe they will make them a reality. I’ve always tried to point my career path in a dreamer direction.
[Working at] Kate Spade taught me the importance of branding. When I started working in the office, the first thing I understood was who the “Kate Spade girl” is. In order to grow a community and a following, I think it’s extremely important to develop a cohesive lifestyle message that people can relate to and feel a part of.
Also, the Kate Spade message is all about positivity, happiness, and taking on the world. How can that not be inspiring?!
In addition, working in merchandising taught me how to be the liaison between many different groups and expertise. This has proven to be helpful as I strive to facilitate creative partnerships and collaborations.
Leaving the corporate world to embark on your own entrepreneurial path is a dream for so many people. What led you to take this leap? Was there a moment when you thought to yourself, “Now is the time!?”
Every job I had in NYC followed the “sink or swim” method of training. Very quickly I learned how to work under extreme pressure, as well as with pressing deadlines, and big personalities. NYC was the home of my first job and first “adult years.” I think it is that foundation that inspires everything that I do.
I learned a lot working in the corporate world. However, the longer I worked in that environment, the more I realized I was distancing myself from the things I loved so much about NYC—the grass root projects and the creative energy.
After leaving Kate Spade, a good friend brought me on to work for an art gallery in Long Island City, where our job was essentially to program the space with collaborations between taste-makers of the city. We both embraced this opportunity to work with people who inspired us—from the subway dance crew to the owners of a boutique cupcake shop. I guess that was the bridge that brought me from corporate to entrepreneurship.
I didn’t have a fear of taking a leap because all around me I was seeing so many people succeed in entrepreneurial paths.
What types of challenges did you face with this transition, and how did you find ways to work through them?
From my experience, the level of stress found in the corporate world vs an entrepreneurial path is equal, just different.
The stress I deal with in running my own business is a lot more personal. I work hard to not take it personal, and yet that’s the greatest challenge. I feel that Field of Artisans is my baby, who I’m raising, developing, and protecting! Ha!
Also, there was a learning curve in dealing with permits, insurance and other bookkeeping. But I’ve learned to constantly ask questions, and these things aren’t usually as scary as they sound if you have a vision.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the evolution of Field of Artisans.
What is a typical workday like for you? What have you found to be some of the biggest challenges with keeping each pop-up feeling fresh and different?
The Field of Artisans events are on the weekends. However, there are a lot of things that need to be accomplished to create these events. I wear a lot of different hats on a typical day.
Usually I start a day with my email inbox. I receive a lot of inquiries from prospective artists who want to know more about the application process or selling their work in general. Then, I move on to application reviews, where I evaluate the artist and decide if their work will be a good fit, as we aim to have a wide variety of original work and creativity in the Field.
Sometimes I have permits to acquire for certain events, which requires research and time on government websites—usually not the fun part of the day! Updating the Field of Artisans website and social media then checking the analytics behind these sites provides valuable insight, and it keeps me responsive to continuing or new issues.
I do a lot of outreach to artists, the community, and local businesses. I’m constantly looking for someone inspiring to work with, collaborate with, or bring to the Field. This keeps Field of Artisans fresh and continually evolving.
We have so many wonderful artist vendors. Some are new to selling and some are super experienced. Together, they create the Field of Artisans community that has become such a positive and supportive influence. I love seeing an artist return to a pop-up with new work, new booth ideas, or a new connection who has helped them grow their business.
Some days, I work in PR. Other days, I’m an accountant. But I am pretty much always collaborating or planning an event!
If you could give one piece of advice to someone seeking to leave their current job and pursue their passions, what would it be?
Don’t be scared! The answer “No” is a variable, and always look for ways to make your dream work. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks and “temporary” roadblocks. Treat your passion, project, or business as a full time job, realizing that there’s always work to be done.
And of course, have fun!
Field of Artisans is a community for all types of creatives. Being constantly surround by emerging artists, musicians, builders, designers and photographers all in one place must be incredibly rewarding and inspirational. What is your favorite part about creating a place for such beautiful and refreshing collaborations?
The people are the best part!
Since moving back to New England, I’ve met so many amazing friends and business partners through Field of Artisans. It’s so great to look forward to summer weekends where we setup in the most beautiful places with such creative people. We all walk away from the day feeling happy and energized.
Looking back at the evolution of Field Of Artisans, if you could go back and change one thing what would it be?
There is nothing that I’d change! However, one of the best parts of reviewing the Field’s evolution is looking at things that work best and are the most fun. That way the Field can continue with the good and only improve. Summer 2017 will be the 3rd summer season!
With summer just a few months away, what about this new season for Field Of Artisans makes you most excited?
Based on the first two years, we’ve come up with a pop-up location schedule that will make artist vendors and shoppers happy!
I’m very excited to see what our returning artists have been working on this past winter and who is joining the Field for the first time this year!
Lastly, what does creativity mean to you?
I think creativity is a path that gets easier and more rewarding the more time you devote to it.
You have to warm up your brain to think creatively and condition your soul to embrace new ideas. Exploring ideas opens you to seeing things in a whole new way, leading to beautiful results.
Thank you so much, Katrina!
To learn more about the Field of Artisans and the talent in the “Field”, be sure to click here.
If you happen to be in the Rhode Island area and want to check out Field of Artisans, click here for the entire 2017 schedule. Book your calendars, as the fun starts on June 10th!
*all photos provided by Field of Artisans