Nina is the owner of Off the Walz Studio of Fine Art. She has been a Niche Award Finalist, and recipient of numerous awards. Her signature work, known as utilitarian art, has been featured in exhibitions around the country, as well as, in museums. Her original studio was founded in Negril after traveling to Jamaica to assist with hurricane relief efforts. Meet Nina.
Stepping out from what you normally would feel safe doing.
2. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
As far back as I can remember –as soon as I could hold a crayon.
3. Are there really ‘starving’ artists or is that just a myth?
It is not a myth. There is definitely starving artists. Being an artist is who you are – and not necessarily a career choice. It really is who we are and not what we do
It fulfills my need to create. When I can’t create I feel stifled. I find spiritual happiness and fulfillment when I create art. There is nothing better than to get to a show on my last $2 dollars, and then have a client tell me how amazing my art is – then I know it’s worth it. I ‘m bringing happiness not only to myself but to my clients through what I create.
I was drawn to pottery in Jr. High school and then even more in High school. I loved the instant gratification fo being at the wheel. There is so much you can add to your pottery – you can embellish it. There is another level to take it with glaze techniques and firing techniques to change the texture. I can make it simple and beautiful in 10 minutes or I can take it to an exquisitely complex level in two months. The transition fascinates me – mud turning into a piece of art that will be enjoyed for generations.
It was a great experience for me. It taught me the experience of life – what is important and what is not. It wasn’t important for me to have a pair of $200 jeans, but if I had food and water I was happy. It came down to appreciation of the basics.
7. Are there any particular challenges to being a female entrepreneur?
There are. Even in the art world people always want to assume any man in my booth is the potter. Somehow it is easier to believe a man can be a potter of large works than me. It is still a male-dominated arena.
That you can’t listen to the negative comments and you can’t give up. You have to have confidence in yourself and you have to work hard. And you have to realize, too, that art is a personal/objective thing. What is beautiful to one person may not be beautiful to the next person. I have people come to my booth back to back saying my work is fantastic and then disliked it. Not all people will respond to your art the same. As soon as you are at the top of one hill then you find yourself at the bottom of the next hill. You just have to overcome and breathe. You have to push through the downtimes to get to the uptimes.
9. Who is your favorite female movie character? Why?
I have always like Demi Moore in Mortal Thoughts. I liked the character because she stood up for her sister and they stuck together. They had loyalties.
10. What have been your favorite traveling experiences?
It had to be when I was traveling Australia because the country was so diverse and fascinating - from Sydney to the Great Barrier Reef. I was with great people who made me laugh until I had tears in my eyes. I ate lots of delicious food, and really explored the country in depth.
“Don’t let people push you around or tell you what to do.
Lack of money.
I want to go to Africa. I want to see Egypt and Zimbabwe. There so many places in Africa I would like to see. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t go to Zimbabwe. Ideally, I would want to go there for a few months and make some pottery out of African clay. That’s what I want to do.
“I’m up for anything. I’m up for it.”