Sonia McCall- Artist Q&A
As the saying goes, there is no such thing as an overnight success as many of us have commonly heard. However, when you look at Georgia Tech graduate and Ceramic Artist, Sonia McCall, you may believe otherwise.
Sonia, better known online as Rose Grown has cultivated a large fan following on Instagram all eager to get their hands on one of her signature boob designs. The quirky designs can be purchased in vase or mug form. Each vessel is made in a variety of shapes and colors offering something unique as the person making the purchase. With the internet’s current plant craze, Sonia’s boob pots and vases are the perfect match to compliment a beloved houseplant.
It has been just over two years since Sonia set out determined to make a career out of her passion for throwing. Within that time Sonia has exceeded all of her expectations. We visited Sonia inside of her studio in Castleberry Hill to discuss how Rose Grown came to be.
RIGBY INK: How did you get your start in ceramics?
Sonia McCall: While studying Industrial Design at Georgia Tech I worked at the campus crafts center, Paper and Clay. I’ve always been someone who has tried different creative outlets from sowing, origami, to stained glass. Ceramics and throwing, in particular, was something I hadn’t had an opportunity to try. When I first began working at the craft center I attempted throwing and it was a complete mess. I had never taken any classes before and needless to say I wasn’t an instant success. I enjoyed the experience, but at that point, I didn’t think it was for me.
Some time passed by and I reached my last semester at Tech. I started thinking to myself, “this is it” and I wanted to give throwing a serious shot while I still had access to a kiln. By then I had developed relationships with a few regulars while working at Paper and Clay and had observed them working. I finally sat down and committed to learning how to do this thing. With the help of friends and many hours of watching youtube videos, I finally got it.
For my senior class project in a class called “Make Ten” I was assigned to mass produce (on a small scale) a design that would be featured in a major design show at the end of the year. I created a ceramic fragrance defuser that sold very well and I ended up winning the class design contest. Among the buyers was Rebecca of Young Blood Boutique. She liked the defusers so much that she bought several to sell in her shop.
"The design speaks to women in general by representing different bodies..."
RIGBY INK- Tell me about life post-graduation and before the start of Rose Grown?
SM- In Spring 2016 I graduated school and I wasn’t set on a specific career. Since childhood, I felt that my life had been dedicated to a predetermined path to do well in school. After accomplishing those things I wanted to take the time to explore a future that meant something to me. I made the decision to take the next six months post-graduation to develop my ceramic skills. With the support of my parents and my savings I earned working through college, I had the opportunity to focus hours every day learning and improving. I’m thankful for the relationship with my manager at Paper and Clay because of that, I was given access to the kiln. Inside of the campus craft store was where I produced all of my pieces until I moved into a studio.
During that period of time post-graduation, Rebecca, the owner of Young Blood Boutique approached me about the possibilities of making planters to sell in her shop. Coincidentally I had been throwing tiny pots, now known as “bitties.” I sent a picture of the planters to Rebecca and she loved them. Rebecca posted a picture of the tiny pot to Instagram and everything took off. The next thing I knew I was getting requests from multiple shop owners asking for my line sheet and wholesale information. That is when I knew I could make a career out of what I was creating.
RIGBY INK- How has social media and the online community impacted you?
SM- I love Instagram and it is absolutely a big part of my business. It is amazingly powerful to be able to connect with people from all over the world. I’ve discovered so many cool things that I otherwise wouldn’t have access to. With Instagram, in particular, I’m able to share my work directly with my customers. As soon as I update social media with photos of new stock, my inventory sells out within minutes. It’s been incredible! I no longer have to rely on wholesale to grow my business. More importantly, I love connecting with people online and making unique relationships.
RIGBY INK- Speaking of growing your business, does your success surprise you?
SM- It is a dream that I never knew I had. Growing up I always believed that to be successful, I needed to have a stable profession that would provide me with a secure income. I think that this is something many people strive for. However, I’ve personally seen what its like to go after a career that isn’t fulfilling and what that can do to your morale. From the outside it can appear that Rose Grown happened overnight. Although, it was in a short amount of time that I was able to work fulltime as an artist, it wasn't without hours of work. From the begining I treated what I was doing as a job and stayed consistent. I’m so grateful that this is my job. I get to wake up and do something that I’m passionate about.
RIGBY INK- How was it been moving into your own private space?
SM: Having the space to grow and experiment has been wonderful. It’s given me more freedom to play with different clays and test out new ideas. I’ve also been able to expand my team with the increase in private space. All of these things have been significant in growing Rose Grown. The light in the studio is amazing. I usually come here every day and can work late in the summer. I always have music or a podcast on in the background. My new ritual is watching The Handmaid’s Tale while making boob pots.
RIGBY INK- The boob pot and mug are your signature theme. What gave you the design idea?
SM- I had a similar design concept from the very start. Back to my senior design project when I made the ceramic defuser, it had a little face and a butt. Also, around that time had seen a popular slip cast pot of male and female torsos. Inspired by those designs, the idea came to me to make boob pots. Rather than having them the same size and shape, I thought it would be more interesting if they actually represented different bodies. Why not have different shapes, sizes, and colors of boob pots just like women’s real boobs?
When I made my first batch of ten boob pots a female custodian who was working in the craft center, passed by as she was taking out the trash. The woman noticed the pots and said, “wow, did you make those? I love these titty, pots! You’ve got saggy ones, you’ve got perky ones, you’ve got big ones, small ones!” I really loved how that resonated with her. The design speaks to women in general by representing different bodies. Like a lot of women, I’ve had my own struggle with body image. I was reflecting back on a time when I felt like I didn’t fit the mold or that there was something wrong with me physically. I wanted to make something that said to women that their bodies were beautiful the way that they were. A person might have a body with a different size or color of skin and that is perfectly okay. It is our own uniqueness that makes us all special.
RIGBY INK- What are some of your future goals?
SM- I’m experimenting with marbling colors and various designs. Eventually, I would like to create ceramic jewelry and even include metals. I used to be the kind of person that thought I had to have my life planned out. These days I see what happens and I’m open to what the future will bring. The boob design kind of took off and for now, I’m happy with that being my thing.
Words: Rigby Wrights