|Mosaic artist Jacqui Ridley credits personal relationships, publicity, and proper pricing for her success.|
''I just started breaking it up with a hammer and put the pieces together and created these abstract faces,'' says the now-well-established Michigan mosaic artist. ''I don't know quite how to describe it. Everything just clicked. I loved fitting these pieces together and seeing the process evolve. It's almost something out of my control. It just, I don't know ... works.''
|Much has changed since Ridley first indulged her artistic fancy in 2004, after 16 years of running a bakery business that fulfilled her need for creative expression while supplying a second income for her family.
Now considered one of the foremost mosaic artists in the country, she operates a thriving business that produces everything from affordable smaller wall pieces to grand-scale public murals. Some custom pieces can command prices in excess of $10,000.
''Soon after I started making these small functional pieces like light switch covers, boxes, and salt and pepper shakers, I would visit my sons in Chicago and would always go to Chiaroscuro, which was filled with one-of-a-kind art from artists all around the country,'' Ridley says. ''When I came home, I decided to call Peggy and get her feedback on my work, since I really respected her opinion. I sent her some samples, and she called as soon as she received them and placed an order. She said she felt so confident that she could sell them that she sent me a check. Her confidence in me really spurred me on to keep creating and evolving.''
Ridley also found support through the Society of Mosaic Artists, which was holding its yearly convention in Miami that year.
''It was a life-changing event for me,'' Ridley says. ''Everyone there was a mosaic artist, from beginners to world-renowned. I went to workshops that featured some of the best artists, went to a juried exhibit of mosaics, and saw a marketplace filled with vendors selling all the materials. It was absolute heaven.''
Up to that point, Ridley was primarily self-taught--''I bought every book I could find on mosaics.''--and she returned from that experience with renewed enthusiasm for a medium she came to acknowledge as her artistic calling.
''I loved the intricate design and wanted to see if I could capture in glass what she had in fabric,'' Ridley says. ''I decided to contact Paula to ask her permission to recreate it. The moment I saw the quilt in glass, changed everything. The jewel-like design of the quilts that combined the intricate look of embroidery was what I wanted to explore in my mosaics. That's when I knew I'd found my voice.''
Her now-distinctive style also contributes to custom collages, which were initially inspired by her desire to create a unique gift for a friend.
''It was a wedding gift, and I wanted to create something the couple would treasure their whole life,'' she says. ''I took pictures of the couple and combined them with mementos and made this mosaic. Now, I'll make any shape and size, and I love working with clients to create a perfect gift. These are pieces that will always be a part of their lives and will honor lasting memories.''
Now primarily focusing on two- and three-dimensional large-scale pieces, Ridley says she is fortunate to have a ''private gallery'' in the form of her husband's new restaurant, the Half Day Café in Rochester Hills, Michigan. ''It's given me a wonderful opportunity to showcase my work,'' she says. ''Because of that exposure, I've sold many pieces and gained many commissions.''
|Additional validation came her way in 2010, when Ridley was one of roughly 1,700 artists accepted for ArtPrize, a Grand Rapids, Michigan, event and one of the largest art competitions in the world. She joined forces with fellow mosaic artist Joan Schwartz and carpenter Marcus Batchelor to create a 10-foot by 5-foot cityscape titled ''Where We Live.''
''Being a part of that creative process and being involved with such a prestigious event was a highlight of my life,'' says Ridley, who was so inspired by the development that she launched a new business venture to focus on large-scale installations. She joined with Schwartz, Batchelor, and Morrinne Maltzman to found Kaleidoscope Mosaics, which produces commissioned pieces for schools and both private and public spaces.
The collaborations have gone surprisingly well, Ridley says.
''The first time I worked with Joan, we just meshed perfectly,'' she says. ''We have this shared vision and respect for each other's talents, and our work styles just fit together so well.''
She also offers the following advice for those who hope to duplicate her success:
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