The first to grace this blog with its awesome presence is a conversation with Pey Chi (Peggy Chin), a multidisclipinary creative human of sorts based in Melbourne.
She makes cute things for her own pleasure and for her etsy store, a lot of which is inspired by her (CUTE!) doggie Booster, a frequent guest in her instastories.
I talked with her to understand her process and thoughts about creating art that makes her happy.
1. On one of your instastories you question the idea of following the rules and technicalities of creating work, and said you just want to make cute things. Can you talk a bit about what prompted you to have these thoughts, and your stance on the commercializing of art?
I think it’s very hard to be studying a creative practice within the bounds of a university. It is often an institution which marks your success by the number of boxes that you tick. A lot of the time, being creative is about breaking those boundaries.
That insta-story was a reaction to one of my teachers asking me to take a closer look at the market; what are other people in my “community of practice” doing and how does the adult / child market differentiate when it comes to the world of “cute”.
It’s a fair question, but I just think what makes an artist special is their unique point of view.
Looking at what everyone else is doing just gets pretty tiring because you start to compare yourself to others and wonder why you’re not as good as them. You’re as good as you can be!
In my opinion, commercialising art for product kinda’ means the dumbing down of art. My art carries a story, that only I can tell. I love the symbiotic relationship that occurs when someone buys something that I’ve designed, or made—like our lives are sort of silently intertwined in a strange way. When art becomes a mass produced commodity it loses the beauty of its meaning and its human touch. It becomes yet another “thing” being produced purely for capital—no care, no love, no human decency; just an exchange of currency.
2. Do you make work you think people will love, or make work you love first and foremost? How has that worked out for you?
I try to make work that I love first and foremost. I like to believe that people can sense the amount of love that has been put into products and are drawn to lovely, loved things.
I think it’s an ethos that’s been working well—people seem to love the things that I love too.
3. Do you have any tips for getting people to find your store? Did you have to market much? With your etsy store, did you have a breakthrough moment, or was it always slow and steady?
I think when you open an Etsy store, the expectation is that you’ll sell out really really quickly, but my Etsy growth has been a very slow burn. It takes a while to get customers at the start because no one trusts you. So try to get reviews in. I make sure to pack a receipt because the receipt has a “leave a review if you love” bit, and that seems to have helped push reviews.
I also think it’s super important to participate in local markets which allows followers to buy from me directly, say hello and have a chat!
They might not buy from you but are more likely to trust you and therefore buy from you online when they’ve met you and seen your work in person.
3. How did you, in your own way, build your internet presence on instagram?
My instagram profile is my online platform. Instagram is a tough one because it has become a cesspool for social influencers, who are just in it for the money and fame—the accumulation of numbers.
I try not to get lost in that noise. I don’t really hashtag anymore because I personally think it comes across as inauthentic. I try my best to respond to the people who DM me because I don’t ever want there to be a barrier between me and the people who “follow” me.
Be open and be honest. In a world full of fakery and BS - it’s super important to stay authentic. Share your shit days but share your good days too. Be real, but most importantly, be you!
4. Now that you’re nearing graduation, what is one most important thing you can think of that art students should absolutely do while they’re in school?
Push your boundaries! Do lots! School is amazing because you are forced to focus on your art basically 24/7 and that is so fucking cool (and also tiring and scary). You are so lucky to be in art school, so extremely privileged to do what you love, to be around other amazingly creative humans, and to be guided by teachers who will push your limits even when you don’t want them to.
5. What are your current creative goals and how would you get there?
I want to work on some more ceramic pieces. I was thinking of having my own solo show with just ceramic jars that I’ve made… I dunno, I just want to play with clay!
Okay. That's as far as the interview goes. I really want to express my appreciation for Peggy for being so generous with sharing her experiences. As soon as I saw her using tons of exclamation marks in her emails, I knew she would be an awesome candidate (because it seems to be agreed upon adults that exclamation marks are "unprofessional")!!!
Find Pey Chi and Booster at
Instagram: @pey_chi (https://www.instagram.com/pey_chi/)
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/peychi