We had the good fortune of connecting with Jodie Bliss and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jodie, what’s the end goal, career-wise?
Throughout my career my goals, short term and long term have continually changed. Short term goals are often guided by demand of the moment and long term goals more by what I feel I am missing in my life. When I started my business ten years ago my goal was to make a living making my art. As my business evolved into one with employees (about 5 years after I started it) my goal became to build my team into a family that was as fulfilled by the work as I am. This is more complicated than it seems on paper, as everyone of my team has different skills, desires, struggles and ways of communicating. Everyday I learn more about how to communicate and work with each of them individually, balancing what I need from them as an employee with what I can contribute to ensure they are being fulfilled. 5 years ago I began to feel it was important to contribute to and bring my community together through the arts. I developed a plan to do this which worked hand in hand with the desire to gain more name recognition. I created community events centered around art, hired musicians and dancers and invited members of my community to participate in workshops at my studio and come together to enjoy each other through the arts. Since my early 20’s I have known that I wanted to make public art. These days I am fortunate enough to be able to do this. I also make custom metalwork on comission from gates and fences, to furniture and chandeliers. Evolving this goal, I would like over the next couple years to be able to bring in larger public art commissions so that this can be the main or only focus of my time. As of this moment, the end goal is to be living on a big chunk of land in the mountains on a lake in the trees with a small house a big studio and at least five dogs. In the grand vision of this plan there is also a swimming pool involved as well as green houses and quite possibly an alpaca or two. This goal involves having the freedom to travel often and without restriction on my time. This end goal will without a doubt change or shift at least subtly as time goes on, as my goals always have. I do not set goals and then push forward through obstacles to achieve these goals. It is more my method to allow the opportunities that present themselves to me guide my goals. I am open to many futures, and know that I will be happy with wherever I end up if I can strive to be happy and fulfilled every day.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business has evolved throughout the years alongside my skillset and the opportunities available to me. When I started out it was just me and I worked 70-80 hours a week creating art then hauling it around the country to art shows on the weekends to sell it. This was rough. Luckily I was in my mid-twenties and sleeping in my van was still romantic. Just as this lifestyle began to exhaust me, I was fortunate enough to be participating in the Front Range Open Studio Tour where people come over the span of a weekend and tour your studio and see where you work. I had several people com into my studio and have the same reaction, looking around my studio at my power hammer and welders and various metalworking tools; “I see your art and thats great, but when I look around your studio I feel like you could make me a gate”…This was a major turning point for me. At this single event I booked out enough work for myself for 6 months doing commissioned architectural work and was able to get off the of the art show road. Pretty soon after accepting these commissions I realized that I physically could not move them around my shop by myself, so I hired my first employee, a situation that I thought would be temporary as I completed these projects and returned to the road. The comission work kept coming, and surprisingly enough I found it to be just as if not more fulfilling than just creating my sculptures, which I continued to do alongside these pieces. Each project forced me to face new challenges, learn new techniques and design outside of my style. This allowed me to grow and evolve in my art in a huge way. It has been five years since I hired my first employee and I currently employ a team of eight (including myself) to execute my work. Everyone has their role and I do my best to design and manage the projects in such a way that I utilize everyone’s strengths and help them to grow and enjoy the fulfillment as much as I do. It has not and is not easy. Every single day there are challenges, some more than others. Every single day we overcome these challenges and grow and learn just a little bit. Every time we overcome a challenge or complete something unlike something we’ve done before the gratification gained from that is more than enough for me to welcome the next days challenges. My approach has always been to focus on today first. Execute everything to the best of my ability in a timely manner. Sometimes focusing on today is thinking about the future, looking for new opportunities and sketching and writing about things that are unrelated to current projects. My vacations are times for study. Many of them I spend going to museums and wandering around cities and towns with my sketchbook and journal, taking pictures, stopping in coffee shops and restaurants to put my thoughts and observations into my notebooks. Sometimes I just hold up away from the outside world and let my mind take me where it will. These times of travel and solitude are so important to me, they recharge my passion and allow new ideas to flow in a way that they aren’t able when I am home absorbed in the day to day work. These are some of the most uplifting and fulfilling days of my life. This is my balance.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The first place I bring anyone who visits is LaRosa Mexican Restaurant in Palmer Lake. It’s my favorite restaurant and the little town is just wonderful. After dinner we would walk across the street for some live music, dancing and drinks at the Speedtrap Palmer Lake, and then of course a night cap and hot wings at O’Malleys after the show. We would spend time walking around Downtown Monument as well, it’s a gem of a little town with a local brewery, moonshine distillery, gin distillery, tap room as well as some great restaurants and stores. We would adventure out into the mountains, just a five minute drive from my house and hike. I have several hikes in Monument and Palmer Lake that I love. I would take them to Old Colorado City to walk around and take in some live local music at Front Range BBQ. I would take them to Manitou for the day to enjoy soaking at Sunwater Spa, stroll the streets, play some games in the Penny Arcade, lunch at The Keg and then go for live music at Kinfolks or Armadillo Ranch. Maybe stay at the Cliff House that night and go for bottomless mimosas at 503 West or somewhere Downtown in the morning. Of course a relaxing drive and hiking in Garden of the Gods is a must, and maybe a day spent at Garden fo the Gods Resort at the spa followed by dining in front of the fire and watching sunset over the Garden of the Gods. One day I might take them to the San Luis Valley and spend the day in Crestone and soak at Valley View or Joyful Journey Hot Springs. Perhaps a day in Denver at the Botanic Gardens and the Denver Art Museum followed by dinner and drinks. Of course, if it works out, a show at Red Rocks is something everyone should experience in their lifetime.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people deserve recognition in my story. My Dad for making me do math workbooks for an hour every morning in the summer before I could go out to play. He helped me to find the enjoyment that is gained through hard work and failure followed by learning, understanding and finally achievement. My Mom who read me books every night and made up stories to put me to sleep and who throughout my life has encouraged my creative pursuits. My Mentors, there are too many to name them all, teachers, friends, clients, blacksmiths & metalworkers who have supported and advised me throughout the years. Many of them contributed in life changing ways to both my approach to life and to my skillset. I started to try to name them all but I could fill a novel. So one from each stage of my life; Kristen Schwartz, my high school english teacher who stood by me and believed and encouraged me while my life was falling apart. Alina Luna, my college english teacher who connected with and encouraged me when I felt mostly overlooked by my other teachers. Patty Nelson, my advisor in Graduate School. David Norrie, who introduced me to blacksmithing gave me a shot when I first started, welcoming me to work in his studio while my passion for blacksmithing was igniting. My Team throughout the years and current: Elly Beyer, Eddy Wooters, Steffany Boucher, Alex DiFiore, Chris D’Addario, Deborah Schoen, Chris Padelford, Connor Gage, Ian Wunderlich, and Logen Meyers.
Facebook: Bliss Studio Custom Metalwork