This first blog is an epic milestone for kicking off the official Mercedes Austin Art website. It symbolizes that I have held true to my integrity and not given up: 20 years ago I set out to make mosaic art for a living. It was important to have a day job related to my art. The mosaics that I made early in my career were made of glass, stone, ceramic and porcelain tile.
Over time, the mosaics I loved making the most were composed of handmade tile. It also happened that look of handmade tile differentiated my mosaics from the rest of the market. I became committed to making mosaics from handmade tile exclusively. I thought to myself, “How hard could it be to do both?”
The journey that unfolded ended up becoming an adventure in building out a supply chain and so much more. I’m a meticulous person and when I set my sights on something, I’m all in.
Within the last couple years, I revived my personal mosaic practice. When this started, I was still renting an apartment and wanted my personal mosaics to be separate from my tile-making operation. Since I was using the office in a rental with beige carpet, I had to make a lot of mini mosaics. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, because I didn’t have a lot of time and I quickly made progress since the pieces were so small. I really began to establish the habit of making things again and it was very therapeutic for me.
Since I was only making small pieces with simple compositions this kept my attention occupied and the pressure low. I like to think of these mosaic minis as warm up-exercises. I was able to establish a regular practice and this was exactly what I needed to show up week after week. Over the last 20 years, this was always my downfall. I was really good at starting to make my own mosaics, but I’d let my first business gobble me up. This time it was really important for me to still give love to my first business while keeping my artistic integrity intact and making mosaics on a regular basis. Once I was doing this for about a year, I ventured into a two-month sublease in a studio building I had previously tried to get space in earlier in my career with no success, so this was a full-circle moment.
Now, I’m nestled in and I’m splitting a studio space with Shawn Lohse in Northrup King - Studio 310. It’s an incredible feeling to pick up where I left off, 17 years ago, working on art while having a day job related to my art.
I hope to be an example to other artists to never give up on their dreams. It hasn’t been easy to get here. When you put your mind to something, you can do it. There will always be obstacles but when you release yourself from the pressure of having the picture-perfect end result, you’ll have a better chance of reaching your goals.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell