One-on-one with mosaic tile artist Mercedes Austin

Contemporary Stone & Tile Design magazine had the opportunity to talk with Mercury Mosaics owner Mercedes Austin about her 20 years of experience, how she got started and some of the experiences she has had working with customers.

For those out there who don’t know who you are, talk a bit about your background and how you got where you are today.

MA: Mercury Mosaics came about because I was aiming to create a “day job” for myself related to my art. This started to brew about 20 years ago and I was told that you can’t make a living creating art. This really just set the tone for my drive to solve the problem.

I knew a lot of creatives doing their art as an activity, but nothing close to supporting themselves fully, along with their lifestyle. It became my mission to be the artist I wish to see in the world. At my first few shows, however, it became a huge wake-up call that I couldn’t just arrive to shows and venues with $800 to $5,000 a piece ticket items and nothing else; so what was born out of this were “accessible-accessories” made of tile that were in the $10 to $50 price range, and those were the items that consistently sold. The larger pieces took a bit more elbow-grease to sell. I wasn’t interested in the “feeling I got” when discounting my fine art mosaics just because rent was coming due, so I was constantly intending to solve this and I kept putting more energy into the things that my clients were demanding. I told myself, “The fine art end of this, I’ll come back to this. Let me come up with a supply chain to allow me to make mosaics using only handmade tiles created by me.” Seventeen years later, here I am/we are!


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