ARTIST OF THE MONTH : MICKEY PHILIPS
Please, introduce yourself
My name is Mickey. I live in Amsterdam with my boyfriend Wouter and our 2.5 year old son Robby.
If this wasn’t my job, I would probably have a restaurant. If I weren’t with Wouter, I would probably live on a Greek island ; and if I didn’t have Robby, I would probably be very unhappy.
What did you do before building your business? Did you study art /design ?
I studied art school in the graphic design department for 4 years. 6 weeks before the end of my studies, I realized that I didn’t want to become a graphic designer, so I learned day and night in six weeks how to make molds. I obtained a graphic design diploma, creating an infographic entirely in ceramic.
Then, I was invited to represent the school with my work at the Salone del Mobile in Milan and I knew it, this is it !
What’s a typical day at work for you? what makes you happy in what you do?
I take my son to daycare in the morning, then I go to my studio. Every day is different and I love it. One day a week – for now 6 years- , I teach people who have had strokes to paint. These people suffer from aphasia and can no longer speak. It’s heavy work, but it’s really nice to have something totally different to do. I make these people so happy ; it’s great to see other parts of the world learn and understand different people and their lives. They make me happy too !
My work is everything for me. Nothing (besides Robby, Wouter, my mother, dancing, drinking, eating, swimming in Greece, and watermelon, haha!) makes me happier than working. Sometimes, when I am in my studio with music and coffee and making orders.. I think… “Oh my god this is my work!” I feel so lucky to be able to do what I do everyday.
How do you manage to reconcile your life as a young mother and your work ?
I don’t have 7 days a week anymore. When I was pregnant, I thought this would be a huge problem. But now, I am happy with my days.
I work so much harder than before I was a mother. Before, I could postpone my work when I wanted. I also used to always work on the weekends . Now, I know my spare time is more precious. My weekends are now devoted to my family life.
In the beginning, I tried to work and to take care of my son at the same time. I learned that it is not possible. Now, I am at peace with the new situation and I like to cycle in a park for hours, what I didn’t take the time to do before. My time is more organized for my family and my mind is free.But sometimes it’s difficult when I see my friends, who are also designers, having plenty of time to work an doing a lot of projects, working together.
What does your creative process look like? What inspires you to create ?
When I have a good idea, I first try to figure out the process, make it in a colour, which is my most favourite part. When it’s almost there and that I’m really happy with the result, I then show it to the world. And hopefully people are also happy with it and buy it. It’s an interesting process with a very satisfying result. I can’t think about other things when I’m in the process of making. I always have interesting conversations with people and so many ideas come from them. My head is spinning.. It’s how I am, weird but true!
My brain doesn’t stop thinking about what I can design. I have 3 ideas a day and not all good ! Overnight, my ideas are million dollar ideas. In the morning, most of the time they are just fine.My boyfriend taught me to write everything. He makes television shows and our basement is full of books with his ideas. I don’t have the money and the time to do everything, so I always need to think carefully / meticulously / precisely about what I’m going to do. I hope that one day many people will help me in my business.
How did you decide to start making ceramics and home decoration objects ? Are you tempted by the creation of furnitures or larger objects ?
It’s more that I am missing things in my own house or I want to dare myself. For example, we have too much fruit and not enough space on the kitchen counter so now I’ll make a fruit bowl for our wall. Or, I think about what is impossible and what nobody else is going to try ? That is how I made my crocolight. Totally handbuilt from almost 200 4cm segments. Took me months.
I love ceramics, my whole life ! In the past, my parents always had special art and ceramics in our house. Something my mom and dad always appreciated. Also, to learn to have patience and the waiting… patience is a very big part of ceramics. And I’m always so happy when I close the kiln and then when it comes time to open it, it’s magic!
I have so many ideas for larger objects ! Also houses, stairs and swimming pools…And stools, tables, tiles ! But it’s so hard to sell. And I am a very bad seller. I am currently looking for a business partner. I think I can do so much if someone else is selling and advertising. Then I would have time to create, I think it’s a great plan.
You share your new workshop with another designer. How did you decide to settle in together ?
The studio/shop where we are working now was previously a very nice design shop, I was selling my work there and Alina also. She is now my studio buddy. We’re following each other on Instagram. I was looking for a new studio in Amsterdam and at this moment, Alina was signing the contract of taking over the space. Alina is now starting a very cute shop and workshop space. Downstairs, we share the studio space.
It’s really nice because we do totally different things but we love the same things so I am very happy over there.
Do you have any recommendations for someone who wants to start their own business ? In your opinion, what are the factors that can lead to success and what are the mistakes to avoid?
I started with a big mistake, because I didn’t share anything, I wanted everything to be too perfect. My first years were dedicated to creation but I didn’t earn any money. I think a lot of creators experiment with this haha ! But it also brought me a lot of good things. My “perfect perfect work” was part of an exhibition in a ceramic museum, which was finally a very good thing. But I think that sharing your work as much as possible is so important, even if it is not yet perfect !
I would also say: “go to work somewhere after your studies”. I started my work right after art school and I think if I had a little more time working somewhere in a company or a design agency. I could have learned a lot. After art school, you don’t know much about starting a business. I had no one to help me. I think I would have been faster and better if I had worked a few years somewhere and I could have had friends and mentors to ask for advices.
Now, I have my brother and he is very good. He has a big business and is a real businessman. But I think my parents did not share our characteristics fairly; they gave him all the business skills and they gave me all the creativity. And that may be why we are good at what we do, but I have no business skills. I know my brother is very very proud of me but I think sometimes he has no idea what I’m doing.
An important project for 2020?
Making a Justin Bieber out of my son Robby. So he can earn the money and I can only design things the rest of my life ! Or maybe a Leonardo Dicaprio…
I am making all kinds of new things from ceramics; stools, fruit bowls, lamps… also some things out of glass.
At the end of the year I am part of the KunstRai, an art fair in Amsterdam. I make for gallery WonderWood how is taking me as a new designer to the fair a special Longpoucen with cream on top so I hope I will meet a lot of new people and new things coming again.
What do you like most at Cool Machine?
What is your favorite piece from the store?
Oe, good one.. but I can not choose just one.. I really like Rodea’s shelves. And the work of ABS Objects,and the ceramics of Laura Philippon oe and what I like most is how beautifully the objects are styled. When I see your posts, I just think “I want to have this right away!” and I hope other people who see my work also have that feeling when they see your photos!