I first met ceramicist Linda Hsiao of Knotwork LA when I wandered into a shop that she and a few friends were co-running in Highland Park. We got to chatting and once she realized I was new to L.A. she was quick to give me names of people I should meet, places to visit and things to eat. Linda is a connector. She’s got that special gift of getting to know you and pairing you with other like-minded lovely people. And since that day I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing several collaborations and friendships that Linda has initiated. Her craftsmanship is wonderful, her work full of personality and her desire for the creative community to thrive is a breath of fresh air in a sometimes-too-competitive city. In what feels like a setting too good to be true for Los Angeles, Linda and her husband, Kagan, have transformed two garden sheds behind their house into the most ideal artist studios.
when did you start Knotwork LA and was there a particular catalyst that made you take the leap?
Knotwork LA began more as a side project for Kagan and I to create things in our spare time. The first time we made a rattle for a friend of ours really helped push us forward. It was so beautiful that we wanted other babies to have it and to play with it just as Emma did. When we coined the phrase made in our spare time as it instantly enveloped all the things that I was tinkering with at the time — clay, our wooden rattles, and the wooden utensils.
what was the most unexpected aspect of putting your business together?
Maybe not so unexpected but definitely can be more time consuming than one might imagine. As much time as I get to spend making things I find myself spending an equal amount of time working on getting things physically out in the world that feel like it has nothing to do with the process but is just as important. More than just being and artist you become an accountant, a sales person, a website editor, an office manager, a package designer, a shipper. . . best thing will be to grow sometime soon so I can finally have a team to help me. Getting the work and making the work is only but a fraction of the challenge.
you have such a lovely setup in your backyard. what’s your favorite part about your workspace?
Windows from my studio that let me look out into my garden. Watching things grow and thrive, critters that run up the tree to most recently little baby doves in the giant cactus tree. Seeing things evolve both in my process and the life surrounding my studio give me fuel and helps me stay connected to what I’m creating.
what are the top three things someone should consider before changing careers or starting their own business?
Love what you’re doing. Believe in what you’re doing. Things always get hard, overwhelming, exhausting and you will be overloaded time and time again as you grow but if you can stop think about what it is your doing and smile every time you know it’s worth it. Sometimes I take a minute when my list of tasks seem to get so long and just remember I get to make things for a living and it’s worth every minute I spend doing it. Third thing but equally as important is to take breaks to escape, refresh and recharge. Whatever that is for you to restart the batteries, get inspired and keep going. For me it’s jumping into a cold swimming hole or a high sierra lake and float.
what’s one book that changed your life?
Wabi Sabi: for artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren.
• photography by Lily Glass for sfgirlbybay.
from sfgirlbybay http://www.sfgirlbybay.com/2016/11/23/knotwork-la-studio-tour/