Vermont Arts Council

100 Cups Project: An Artist Pays it Forward

Ceramic artist Su Shannon was a participant in the 2012 Breaking into Business Workshop. She was so motivated by the experience she decided to help other artists expand their business skills as well. Su’s creative spirit and dogged determination led to the 100 Cups Project. She created 100 cups to sell, with all proceeds benefiting four scholarships for the 2014 Breaking into Business Workshop. In February, 2014, we spoke with Su about her project.

KB: What inspired you to create the 100 Cups project?

SS: You know when you get to a place in work or your personal life and you think, ‘Wow, if I got here, then that means there are others out there just like me.’  I received such great resources and opportunities from attending the Breaking into Business workshop in 2012 that I would love to see that ripple effect continue. I already knew of several artists who wanted to attend the workshop but hesitated. So, in my desire to clear roadblocks for anyone interested, I created the 100 Cups Project. It could provide tuition to four artists interested in attending the workshop. Amazingly, my goal was exceeded. A total of five artists benefited from this endeavor.

KB: Have you done anything like this before?

SS: There’s a first time for everything. I was motivated purely by a desire to repeat the success I found after the workshop.

KB: Were there any challenges in creating 100 cups for this project?

SS: It was a simple vision really. I worked out a budget, thought about a sales strategy and got plenty of cheer-leading support from the Arts Council. The best part was raising awareness for the need to give talented artists necessary business skills to keep them moving forward. By talking to Vermonters, visitors from around the country and the world at my retail venues, the cups were sold throughout the year.

KB: What do you hope for the scholarship winners?

SS: This workshop provides a format to start a business from your art. I want artists to realize that this means in order to continue to do what you love, you must strive to gain skills necessary to market and sell your work. For those participating for other reasons, even if one important connection is made because they showed up here, then it was worth it.