In the spirit of bold moves made by local artisans to take their craft from hobby to livelihood, we talked shop with April Brimer and Pavel Cherny of The Pursuits of Happiness. We couldn’t resist collaborating with this Portland based artist duo once we saw their pursuit of happiness - wonderfully wacky 60’s inspired ceramics. April did not disappoint in her design of the first Herbivore exclusive soap dish collection. We are still swooning! Each dish is uniquely handmade and available to purchase in a very limited edition quantity via our our online shop. Get the scoop on this talented couple’s journey plus some insight for one of your own below.
What did you do before you started The Pursuits of Happiness?
April: My career started in photography. I did product and editorial photography for fashion brands for awhile. I’ve been really lucky to always work creatively.
Pavel: I worked and managed a few small businesses. I also worked on bikes, grew plants, made music. Lots of different stuff.
What inspired you to start making ceramics?
A: It was a culmination of a few things. I was looking for a hobby and I also liked the idea of making things for our home. As soon as I started working with clay I found it to be extremely satisfying.
P: Ceramics entered my life when April started doing it at home. I would help her here and there and we would trouble shoot challenges together. As the business took shape and I was helping out more and more it evolved into a partnership. As someone who has always worked with my hands, it feels like a natural fit.
What moment inspired you to make your ceramics available for purchase?
A: From the beginning I was posting my creations on instagram. I was just making funny experiments but people started asking if they could buy them. A couple local shops emailed me to ask about buying pieces and it has just evolved from there.
What do you experience in life that you translate into your art?
A: I try to take moments where I’m inspired and create objects that might give the viewer a similar feeling. Lots of seemingly random things have captured my attention: old buildings, topiaries, kitschy things, the beach. I get a sensation of something like curiosity or nostalgia. If an object I’ve made can give someone a similar feeling , I’ll be happy.
P: April does the majority of the design and I try to bring efficiency and structure to the processes. I’ve always had that tendency with all aspects of my life.
If you had one piece of advice to artists and makers trying to make a living from their craft, what would that be?
A: I think it’s important to remember that your journey is your own and it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. Spending too much time looking at what other people are doing is always a quick way to get you down. Do things at your own pace and in your own way. We all have different advantages and roadblocks, so do the best with what’s available to you.
P: From the beginning, try to shape your business in a way that can be scaled up. It goes along with working smarter instead of harder. If you won’t be able to delegate parts of your process down the road, you’re setting yourself up to never get ahead.