Last Friday Eileen Goldenberg welcomed me into her home studio in San Francisco to talk about her own creative practice, running a business, and why she makes art.
Eileen first knew she was an artist at about 5 years old, when she found a can of plasticine clay in the back of a classroom, and found her calling as well. While ceramics was her first art form, it certainly isn't the only one. Eileen's studio is filled with her diverse and distinct bodies of work. Colorful, dreamy encaustic paintings hang on the walls, plastic containers house her handmade felt watercolor journals, and the angular pen and ink drawings that inform the surface design of her ceramics are neatly tucked away. She's also an active member of the urban sketching movement, a global community of artists that practice drawing on location in cities, towns and villages they live in or travel to. Eileen's work is inspired by the whole wide world around her – patterns in nature, Zulu shields, cave paintings, ancient ceramics, and the list goes on.
A typical day for Eileen usually starts at 4am. She wakes up and makes tea, then settles back into bed with her tray of drawing supplies, where she draws for a couple of hours. It's a powerful way to start the day, and a habit usually associated with art historical masters. When she's done drawing, she's goes to the gym, and then heads to the studio for the day. It's all about forming habits, and balancing them.
I asked Eileen if she had any advice for artists and crafts people new to their careers, and without hesitation she said, “take a business class”. Learn accounting, read every book about marketing that you can get your hands on, and learn how to apply to shows. Above everything, if you want to make a living as an artist, you have to learn how to run a business.
In addition to painting, drawing, and pottery, Eileen also makes watercolor journals. Made with felt covers, the paper is removable and easy to replace. They're lightweight and colorful, and the whole idea behind them is to encourage people to make art. In the vein of encouraging people to make art, she also teaches ceramics to kids. “They get it” she says, “They pick it up so fast.”
The moral of the story? We make art because we can. We love making art. We want to make it, because we want to have it!