Meet the Marketplace No. 007
We started the Prism Boutique Marketplace Collection to keep our community connected and to introduce our customers to local artists from across the country.
We’re so excited to introduce you to the next round of independent makers featured in our Marketplace. From totally unique cutting boards to brand-new collabs, the thought and care that goes into each piece crafted by these artists is truly incredible.
Get to know the talented creators behind each featured brand of our new Marketplace Collection and show your support any way you can.
Michael Upton has been creating art for as long as he can remember. “I was lucky enough to attend a high school that focused heavily on the creative arts, and then studied apparel design in college,” he says. After college, Michael spent 11 years designing clothing, but he never felt at home in the apparel world. “I was always drawn to the art and home and architecture world – and would spend all my free time painting. So I decided to take the plunge and pursue what I was truly passionate about.”
Michael started the Upton brand to create both affordable and approachable pieces of art without sacrificing quality. And the affordable part was really important to him: “I’ve always loved art, but I’ve never been able to walk into a gallery and purchase something. For one, I can’t afford it – and most people I know can’t afford it – and it can also be an intimidating experience. But I also don’t want to buy cheap, mass-produced, shiny poster art. So, I felt there was a gap.” So, with a desire to help more people live with beauty every day, Upton was born.
Drawing inspiration from everything from music to cookbooks to architecture, Michael’s designs are based on things he encounters in his daily life - or things he’s seen in his travels, or experienced, or tasted. “It’s similar to the way a chef cooks – their method of cooking and the flavors they’re combining and the tools they’re using. The food is the final product but the art is in how they prepared it, the mindset that went into it, and all the experiences and everything they’ve tasted before that. Combining all of that to make a dish, that’s the artwork. And that to me is what is exciting,” says Michael.
Handy Dandy Brand
Long Beach, CA
Since she was a kid, Long Beach-based Brandy Wayne always loved making things with her hands - she even used to dream of becoming an artist when she grew up. Over the years, she dabbled in all kinds of mediums and first fell in love with ceramics. “I almost went to college for it, but wasn't sure how I could make a career out of it, so I switched to architecture. When an architecture degree became too daunting, I learned that many architects were also furniture designers,” says Brandy.
When she discovered furniture design, Brandy transferred to California State University, Long Beach and graduated with a degree in General Design with a focus in Furniture Design. “At CSULB, part of the degree in furniture design was to take a basic woodshop safety course. I was afraid of a lot of the tools but began to learn what they all did.” After that course, she started collecting tools off Craigslist so she could tinker around on her own. Brandy says, “When I decided I learned everything I could on my own, I found a local community college (Cerritos College) that has an amazing woodworking program. I've taken 3 courses total and expanded my knowledge and confidence immensely.”
Woodworking graduated from a hobby to a career when she was laid off from a design job. She started Handy Dandy Brandy and began crafting uniquely shaped cutting boards, hand painted mirrors, and so much more. “I recently went on a trip to Savannah Georgia, with no plans but to discover the city. Savannah is also home to one of the country's best design schools, SCAT (Savannah College of Art and Design). I think being around so much culture, history, and eager young designers gave me a fresh outlook and gave me tons of inspiration.”
Since we last collaborated with Olivia Dee of Sandstone Market, so much has changed for her as an artist. “Sandstone was a side project, and has since evolved into my full time job. I've been taking on larger projects and commissions,” says Olivia. She continues, “my technique has definitely evolved too - I've been working on perfecting my linework and making cleaner shapes & patterns, and incorporating a broader spectrum of colors into my work.”
Sandstone was born at the start of the pandemic, “you can say it was my ‘sourdough starter,’’ says Olivia. But this hobby actually stuck and evolved into something more than she dreamed of. Prior to the pandemic, she hadn’t painted in years - making her extra grateful for what more hours at home gave her, even though it still was an incredibly difficult time. “My day job kept running throughout the entirety of the pandemic, which was stressful due to exposure levels, etc. Sandstone was my way to dissociate from the reality happening every day, and focus on something I was truly passionate about.”
For this Marketplace, we teamed up with Olivia to collaborate on a collection of wall hangers. “This is a special collab that was inspired by the colors of the desert,” says Olivia. “The smallest circles are called ‘desert thistle’ - a gradient from warm desert tones to a pale lavender, the medium circles are called "desert sage" - a gradient from warm desert tones to sage green, and the largest circles are called "desert sand" - a gradient from warm desert tones to sand tones.” We’re so honored to get to work with Olivia and to carry her beautiful pieces at Prism.
Long Beach, CA
Heather Lew’s love of ceramics started when she was a kid. Her grandmother was an artist and had a pottery studio in Arizona. “I remember her always giving me clay and new art projects to do. This is where the name Sedona Ceramics originates from, an ode to the summers I spent with my Grandmother in the desert,” says Heather. Even though she took ceramics in high school and enjoyed it, she never imagined it would grow into a career. But after graduating from college and working multiple office jobs, she revisited pottery as a creative escape. “At first I was doing ceramics as a hobby, then eventually there were so many people wanting to order my pieces that I left my office job.”
Heather makes all her pieces in Long Beach and spends her days throwing at her wheel, making a mess and splattering clay all over her office turned studio. “Without fail there are clay splatters and some paw prints from my dog all around the house after a long day of throwing.” She’s also a member of a local pottery studio where all her pieces are fired. “I am grateful to have my clay community and friends who encourage me to push my artistic boundaries.”
Her pottery process starts with experimenting with new designs. She says, “Most of my ideas for designs evolve from lots of trial and error from playing with different clays, shapes, and glaze patterns. I always end up gravitating towards my designs that feel the most nostalgic or unique.”
“I get a lot of my inspiration from classic patterns and symbols, while putting my own twist on them. I also love playing with colors, using the earthy tones of the raw clay in contrast with bright pops of color. Color is so powerful to me, specific palettes can change your entire mood and energy.”
But Heather’s most inspired by making art that will have a positive impact on someone’s daily life. She says, “Drinking coffee or tea is such an important daily ritual, I am honored to make that ritual a little more special with my mugs. Thinking about the hundreds of pieces I’ve made that exist in people’s homes is probably the most rewarding part of creating for me.”
We’re so excited to work with and support these makers who continually inspire us. If you’d like to get to know their work further, check out their websites and give them a follow on Instagram. And make sure you shop our Marketplace Collection.
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