Having collaborated on both these projects with friends, Alina dreamt of one day owning her own place, but first she went to explore the world via art residencies which took her to Amsterdam, Finland, L.A., Taiwan and back to Amsterdam where she decided to stay for a while to tackle that big dream of hers. And so, in March 2020, just as the first lockdown was announced, Alina received the keys to what has since become PANSY – her studio as well as workshop venue and retail space. For now, she has packaged up the workshops she hoped to host at Pansy into DIY ceramic making kits for people to do at home, but no lockdown can stop Alina from making cute things for nice people.
1. There exists this idea that creatives are bad at business and yet, you have always embraced the entrepreneurial side of creativity and quite successfully, too. Do you have any tips for creatives who are struggling to embrace their inner entrepreneur and maybe even find that selling their work gives them the creeps?
Yes, I agree! A lot of creative makers feel a queasiness about ‘selling’ work which is totally understandable! Making art is so personal, and putting a price on it and showing it bare to the big bad world can be really scary! My tips would be:
- Find the people who really love your work; people who are cheering you on and support you and keep them in mind when you’re sharing your work (fight your inner saboteur!).
- Keep sharing your work and keep doing it consistently! The world needs more of you, more artwork, more creativity and more people loving what they do. Try not to forget that when you’re about to press the “share” button on whatever social media platform you’re working with.
- Social media and popularity isn’t an indicator of your success. Sure, numbers are great and having a following feels really good, but your work and your business have to feel genuinely exciting to you. I think when you’re excited about the work you make, people will fall in love with it too.
2. Your plan for Pansy always been to make it into more than ‘just’ a retail space. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has put the community aspect of your vision on hold for the time being. In an ideal world, how would you like to see Pansy flourish post-Covid?
In an ideal, sunny world, Pansy would be open to the public 4 days a week and I’d be hosting regular creative, hands-on workshops in the studio on the weekends and evenings. Every few months there’d be a themed week, whether it be Wiener Week, Fanny Fortnight, Tiny Festival, Cutie Card Club, Flower Weekend, where I can make funny and sweet ideas come to life!
I would love to hold artist talks in the studio space during the evenings where I invite artists to share what makes them excited - their dreams, and what they’re currently working on. And host exhibition openings from time to time. I’d also love to work on collaborative projects with people I admire from all around the world.
3. What is your definition of success?
My definition of success for Pansy is for it to be a well-loved, well-known space that is welcoming, loving, and a safe space for people. I’d love for it to support and share work from a diverse range of makers and artists from around the world and be filled with artworks that make my heart sing!
For myself, I would like to feel at peace with the pace and way that Pansy grows, and not feel constantly overwhelmed by a never-ending to-do list. It would be nice to step away and feel satisfied with my day’s work and excited for a new day. I want Pansy to be a place where I can make any idea or project come to life and have the financial resources to pay myself, my helpers, and the people I work with a generous amount. Some of these things are already happening, and some are things I am working towards!
4. You mentioned previously that you sometimes feel quite small in this world and that it can therefore seem impossible to create meaningful change. If you had all the resources at your disposal, what is the one change you would like to make happen?
Haha, this is a great question! Recently I’ve been fighting the government and rental agency about a rent freeze or discount during Corona as we’ve been forced to close but continue paying full rent without any support from either institution. It feels a bit unfair and unforgiving during this unforeseeable circumstance. I’d love to have a conversation with the person making the rules for all of this and just explain my situation to them.
On a broader scale though, I’d like to make a change in the way that people think about the world and each other. I believe that if we all genuinely listened and cared, empathised with each other’s stories and histories then the world would be a much better and kinder place.
5. If you could travel back in time and have a cup of coffee with the Alina who had just graduated from art school, what three wisdoms would you like to share with her?
1. You can keep obsessing over boys but you’ll get a good egg coming your way soon, so stop spending so much time crying and moping over what’s-his-face.
2. Keep making art that makes you happy, I’ll spare you the pain: white cube gallery art isn’t for you!
3. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and your art practice (buy those cute pens, brushes, paints that you want!)
You can find PANSY at -
Czaar Peterstraat 104, 1018PS Amsterdam
(currently only open by appointment)
Website - www.pansy-shop.com
Instagram - www.instagram.com/helloitspansy/
Facebook - www.facebook.com/helloitspansy
5 Questions for ... is a blog series featuring creative self-starters, artistic late bloomers and those who have created a thriving career by following their passion.
Is there someone you know or who inspires you that fits that description?
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Hi, I'm Chantal Valerie. I'm a writer and self-taught illustrator. I am inspired by late bloomers and creative self-starters (I only started drawing at the age of 34) and since I believe they deserve more visibility, I started my blog series ‘5 Questions for …’.