Creativity – In the Studio With Caroline Reehl Boykin
In this series on The Southern C, I am thrilled to introduce our readers to some of the interesting and creative Southerners we meet online through our social network and also in “real life” at The Southern C Summits. These individuals are the artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity. Go behind the scenes to get a glimpse into their studio, find out what they are working on, discover the path that led them to this moment and gain insight into what motivates and inspires their work and lives.
The subjects and their niche may vary but many share the paradoxical traits of creative individuals – they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions. We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region. According to Einstein, “Creativity is contagious” and this is one thing we are happy to spread.
This week, I would like to introduce you to Caroline Reehl Boykin of Caroline Ceramics. Caroline has always loved to create and her childhood on the Alabama coast cultivated her enchantment with art and Southern culture.
A summer of studying figure drawing in Florence, Italy, led Caroline to know that she wanted to become a full time artist. These dreams later came into fruition after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Mississippi and a sold out senior thesis show. Caroline’s focus was ceramics but she had a true passion for all mediums in art. Texture, color, functionality, and line quality are all important aspects in Caroline’s expressive artwork.
Caroline lives and works in Raleigh, NC, with her husband Will, bulldog Gus, and sweet baby girl Leavie. Her art has been featured in various publications and is in homes all over the US. Her beautiful pieces, in some form, represent or reflect her faith and the internal strength and external beauty in women. Sounds like a Southern creative to me!
Describe your brand and how it got started.
My brand stemmed from a love of art and southern culture. You can see touches of my admiration of southern grander and hospitality through all aspects of my work. Caroline Boykin, as a brand, started with porcelain vases and bowls adorned with handmade flowers. Over time I have added my passion for painting into the brand, creating figurative and flora works on birch panel and BFK paper. Right now I am in the process of collaborating with a southern baby clothier creating botanical prints for their line.
Describe a typical day in your studio or office
With an eleven-month-old little girl my days are ever changing! Early mornings are filled with baby giggles and some emails. While we are having breakfast I try to map out what my day will look like so that when I get to the studio I can be as efficient as possible.
Creating in so many mediums leads to multiple projects at once. My ceramic work takes about a week to complete from throwing on the wheel to a 3rd and final firing. Any given day you will find me loading and unloading the kilns between painting commissions and boxing up orders.
Lately I have been working in silence with the studio doors open. I think that this season of my life is so hectic that the quiet helps me concentrate and get lost in the action of creating.
What did you want to be when you grew up and how has your background influenced your work?
Growing up I wanted to be a florist. I have always loved flowers; the textures, colors, and fragility. I think my love for all things flora are clearly seen throughout my brand.
Childhood on the Alabama coast is a huge aspect of my work! The grace and confidence of a Southern woman is something that I try to emulate through line quality in a painting or gestural movements through my handmade flowers.
Any “a-ha” moment that made you take the leap?
The summer that I graduated from college I brought my senior thesis collection of pottery to my hometown for an art show and sold everything. That was pretty a-ha! At the time I was still so timid about my creative voice that it took large amounts of faith to take each step. But with each step I grew stronger and stronger and my work got better and better. I didn’t have a set “plan” in the beginning but everyday I worked very hard so that when those fantastic opportunities opened up I was ready to pounce.
Favorite biz tool, app or resource?
Instagram, Uline for shipping materials, and lots of books. Ever since I can remember I have been collecting art books. Whenever I am working to create new bodies of work I will pull out all of my old books and glean from different eras and styles.
Where do you find inspiration?
Throughout all aspects of life! My daughter is my biggest inspiration to date.
The rare day off – what do you do to unwind?
Get out of town. I become so wrapped up in my work that it is important to step away and gain new perspective from the world around me. With a little one, my husband and I don’t get to travel exotically but we love to take advantage of our proximity to the beach and the mountains.
Best business advice you ever received?
Under promise and over deliver. – My dad, who is a fantastic business man and my hero, taught me this early on. Before I make any business moves I call my dad to talk all options through.
Write out goals each year. – Another gem from my dad but there really is something about writing out your goals for 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years. It is not something that I look at everyday but is always in the back of my mind. A great way to look back at the end of each year to see all that you accomplish as well!
For more of Whitney’s Southern Creatives Q&A’s click the names below: