For This Norman Potter, Success Is ‘Sublime’
When Amanda Wells first began creating pottery some 20 years ago, she had no idea that a then-unknown phenomenon called social media would make her an “overnight” sensation.
That’s just what happened in February of 2017, however, when a photo of her unique, hand-crafted mugs landed on the front page of Instagram. Actor Wil Wheaton (of Star Trek fame) shared her work. Then came profiles by Martha Stewart, House Beautiful and the popular Facebook page Bored Panda. The impact on her business, Sublime Pottery, has been life-changing.
“I don’t know how I wound up on the first page of Instagram, but within a three-week period I went from 300 hard-earned followers to over 10,000,” Wells said. Since then, the orders continue to flood in, and her customers now stretch across the globe–from Europe to Australia to Singapore and beyond.
No two pieces of Wells’ pottery are exactly alike, but all make a strong statement, with striking colors and clean lines. She focuses primarily on mugs, due to their practicality and the satisfaction she gets from creating something that is enduring and often highly personal to the user.
“As a creative person, I like to make things people can use,” she said. “When I drink coffee from my mug, it’s a time that’s very grounding for me personally. It helps me stay centered, and it’s also when I hatch ideas and dream dreams. That experience is what I hope my work is passing along.
“Pottery is one of the only artistic mediums that lasts; we are still digging up pottery from ancient times,” she added. “I like to think that my work may be around long after I’m gone.”
Along with her signature mugs, Wells creates smaller items, including espresso cups, shot glasses, incense holders, ring cones and small “treasure dishes,” which can be used to hold just about anything.
Wells said she has always been interested in art, but entered college with the intention of becoming a painter. Instead, she “fell madly and instantly in love” with pottery and never looked back. To earn a living, she worked a day job with a mural painting group for 12 years and pursued a few other interests. Pottery remained her first love, however, and she began focusing on it full time in December of 2015. She also maintains a strong presence locally and is an active participant in Norman’s downtown Art Walks.
With an eye to expanding her business, Wells joined a seller’s group called Flourish, which maintains a strong presence on Facebook and other sites. From them she learned the ins and outs of social media marketing. Then came Instagram and the resulting jackpot. With orders continuing to flood in, she has since acquired two assistants to help manage the growing enterprise. She restocks her site regularly and typically sells out within a couple of hours.
Most of Wells’ designs remain consistent, but “I try to experiment with at least one piece every kiln load,” she said. “I also sometimes post prototypes, and I get good feedback from about 100 collectors.
Creativity is not about any artistic medium; it’s a state of mind,” she added. Twenty years of paying my dues, and I feel like I’m finally living the artist’s dream!”