Four years ago, I started my Bigcommerce store because I knew a professional potter who sold $82 coffee mugs. Add about $18 to pack and ship fragile ceramics across the country and you’ve just spent $100 to sip your morning coffee.
These mugs sound expensive, but they are much cheaper than a professional painting or sculpture. Her artwork has won awards globally, so purchasing her art is like making an investment. Unlike most products, great art appreciates in value over time. I collect art, so I would gladly buy a mug if I could. Unfortunately, (and fortunately for her) I have not been able to buy one because her pottery sells out almost instantly.
Her name is Ayumi Horie. Her mugs currently sell for $125-$160 each, almost exclusively through her online store. She posts a few dozen pots every few months and they sell out within a day or two.
For the past five years, I made a living as a potter by selling mugs at $25 retail. They sold very well at all of the usual places where artists sell: local galleries, coffee shops, art festivals, private commissions, bulk wholesale orders and online. Business was good, but I had this nagging feeling that my art and business were missing something.
I needed to create a stunning piece of art that would take my business to the next level. I looked everywhere for inspiration, and found it in one of my favorite celebrities/scientists, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. With almost four million Twitter followers, he inspires the masses with powerful ideas. Tyson gave a speech about art where he said, “The more of us that feel the universe, the better off we will be in this world.” I took these words to heart and created pottery inspired by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
We drink from mugs everyday, but we rarely drink from handmade art. I tried to show the beauty of the cosmos in a small, useful object. I believe that handmade pottery enriches people’s lives. The word “cosmic” describes outer space, but the “cosmos” describes what is all around us. Cosmic mugs remind us that the elements from the stars are the exact same elements that make up objects in our daily lives.
Each pot starts as a lump of Stoneware clay, formed with my hands on a pottery wheel.
After attaching a handle, I brush and drip glazes onto the pot. Then, the mugs are fired in a kiln to over 2400 degrees to create 100% non-toxic, dishwasher-safe surfaces.
Ten years of studying the ceramic art and glaze chemistry results in surfaces that can never be duplicated exactly. The finished glazes are photographed and paired side-by-side with images captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. My goal is to create glazes that look like abstract paintings of galaxies and nebulae.
When I first priced the cosmic mugs three times higher than other mugs, I was terrified. What would my customers think? I knew these mugs were special, but were they worth the risk of possibly losing five years spent building a solid customer foundation?
Last Christmas, I brought some mugs home to show friends and family. They agreed that these mugs were special. They wanted to see me succeed and encouraged me not to sacrifice their worth. I decided to hold this art to higher standards. Bigcommerce tools allowed me to raise my prices in a controlled, respectful way. Priced at $45, they sold out. We made a big jump to $85 and they still sold out.
I decided to settle on this retail price, and to periodically give away just a few mugs to help spark more interest in this new type of art. Our marketing efforts aim to build bridges between artists and scientists. For example, to honor of the upcoming anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20th, we are giving away two cosmic mugs to this Bigcommerce Blog audience, totally free.
Complete This Two Step Process for your Chance to Win a Pair of Free Cosmic Mugs
Step #1: Click to tweet this message:
If you don’t have a Twitter, you can simply like this Facebook post to enter: (insert Bigcommerce blog post facebook link here)
Step #2: Enter your email in the giveaway signup below, and recommend up to 10 friends to increase your chances of winning two free cosmic mugs!
The winner will receive an email Monday, July 20th. Also, this giveaway lets you increase your chances of winning by getting up to 10 other people to sign up. Good luck! For more info, check out this fun YouTube video about the cosmic mugs:
Biography: Joel is a potter, entrepreneur and former author for the American Craft Council. After graduating college, he immediately launched his business, Cherrico Pottery, LLC. For the past 5 years, he has supported his livelihood full-time by creating and selling handmade pottery. His goal is to help pottery enter the mainstream media by revolutionizing the ways that that technology helps art impact society. Copyright for pottery images: Cherrico Pottery, LLC, 2015. Copyright for Hubble Space Telescope Images of the NGC 2074 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the Planetary Nebula NGC 5189, and the Galactic Spectacle STScI-2010-25: Space Telescope Science Institute, www.hubblesite.org. Work Cited: The Science of Storytelling, Origins Project, Arizona State University