We sit down with Stacey Mairs the founder of Midnight Pacific Studio to talk about finding her medium, what work means for her, and the picture of a perfect day.
(Hi Stacey!) How did you get started with jewelry making?
I was a ceramic major in college and when I started up my ceramic business here in Portland I started making porcelain jewelry. After a while I wanted to add more complex metal components and took a beginner metalsmithing class. From that moment on I was HOOKED. (ie. totally obsessed). I immediately sold my brand new kiln and made the switch to metal. It seems a little crazy but I just knew that I had finally found my medium and I knew I had a million things to learn, so I just wanted to focus on that.
Your work exudes a certain strength of presence. Powerful statements yet with often delicate material. Where does inspiration for your work come from?
Some of the inspiration comes form the material itself. I love that metal is both strong and seemingly rigid, but also very malleable if you know how to work with it. The way I work with metal is informed by my experience as a ceramic artist and also as a wordworker. I love textures and hammering and finding shapes that feel powerful when you are wearing them.
What qualities do you look to create in your work? Is there a theme that unifies them all?
The most important thing I look for in my work is a high level of craftsmanship and attention to details. I want my jewelry to last a long time. In addition to that I would say texture is a major theme in my work as well as powerful statement pieces. I don’t make a lot of dainty work.
What are some things you’ve achieved in your career that you’re most proud of?
I am really proud of the workshop offerings that I have created over the past couple years. It is something that kind of surprised me. I didn’t know I was going to enjoy teaching so much or that it would be such a large part of my business. I enjoy creating an environment that people are comfortable in and where they can have a fun learning experience.
How do you define success as an artist?
From the very beginning I have wanted to smash the myth of the “starving artist”. I believe there is more to just barely surviving as an artist. More recently I have been noticing so many people glorifying the “hustle”. The hustle is dangerous. Artists, and other small business owners, should not be making themselves sick just trying to survive. My definition of success as an artist and small business owner is that my business actually gives me freedom and I do not feel owned by my business or by making a living. I am interested in thriving, not just surviving.
Freedom is a HUGE value of mine and something that I gauge my success on. I try to take advantage of it as often as possible, especially during the summer months when I try to get out of town as often as possible. The fact that I can leave town whenever I want and don’t have to ask anyone for permission, that feels like success to me.
What challenges have you faced in your career that’s been seminal in your evolution?
I think one of the biggest challenges as a working artist is making sure that you are still having FUN and that you are still finding your creative flow. Sometimes weeks (months?) will go by where I am just diving deep into my to-do lists and wholesale orders and workshops. For me, if I do not have the freedom to follow my creative flow then the business begins to feel oppressive and I start to ask myself why.
Education seems to be a big part of what you do. Is it something that’s always been part of the plan?
No it was never part of the plan. I started offering workshops as a way to offset some of my increased rent expenses when I moved into a larger space. I did not anticipate how well the workshops would be received or that almost two years later I would be getting regular emails asking to be put on the wait list for sold out workshops. I am really enjoying it and it is a big help to the fluctuating income of a product based business.
Who are some other Portland artists whose work you fancy?
Oh my gosh there are so many! Some have have become good friends. I love all the female powerhouse creatives in Portland. Here are a few:Stonedware Company, Urban Wood Studio, Foxtail Jewelry, xobruno, High Society Collection, Lynzee Lynx, Vava Lingerie, Parker Simonne Designs, Natalie Joy, Annamieka Hoops Davidson, Ashley May Jewelry, Alison Jean Cole, MapleXO, Lunasol, Theeth Jewelry, Renee Hartig
And so many more!
Picture of your perfect day?
Wake up without an alarm or a to-do list in my head. Leisurely drink coffee in bed with a book. Something outdoors in the sun with my dog and a friend. Healthy food and lots of cuddles. Simple pleasures and no time line. 🙂
All photo credits to Midnight Pacific Studio