Renata Rocha Soto is a Mexican artist who specializes in handmade ceramic pipes. Her signature style features quirky and fabulous creatures. From adorable cats to stunning sharks, Renata uses her creative inspiration to make one of a kind pieces. A few years ago, though, Renata never imagined she would be working as an artist. In fact, it all started with a class in high school. At the time, her schedule was packed with classes. Ceramics was the only option that would fit. Little did she know that class would transform her life. Today, Renata runs Cutie Pipes– an online store showcasing her handmade pipes. Located in Mexico, Renata ships her pieces worldwide.
How did you get into making pipes for a living?
It all started with a class during art school. At the time, it was the only class that would fit my schedule. I never imagined I would become so in love with it. Today, its become my work. I love the shiny finish glazed ceramic has, there is nothing else like it. Which is why I glaze my pipes on the inside and out. This way you can clean them just like you would with a glass pipe.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I love working from home. But what I love the most is the effect my pipes have on other women and my fellow metalheads. I hit their sweet spot! Because of my pipes, I’ve gotten acquainted with musicians whose music I adore. It's amazing! I want to surround myself with talented people. My goal is to one day be an official merchant for some of my favorite musicians.
Name your favorite piece you’ve made
I would have to say an opossum with babies, also the velociraptor. I rarely make these because they are the most difficult to make.
Any tips for maintaining a work/life balance?
No idea, I’m just starting. In all honesty, I have no idea what I'm doing haha. Maybe take the weekends off to rest a bit? Oh, and don't try and start your business during college. Wait until after. Also, call your grandma or mom! It's important.
How would you describe your creative process?
It’s absolutely therapeutic. I concentrate so hard I go into a trance and work all day nonstop, unlike my painting, which is very free, my pipes are previously designed and planned. I believe this is what makes my ceramic work design instead of art because they serve a purpose.
What does an average day look like for you?
I wake up early to pack items that sold and print shipping papers. Meanwhile, I'm eating breakfast and posting on social media while I wait for FedEx to arrive. I'm also normally taking pictures of new products in the morning as well. Then I go to the workshop until I'm too tired to continue. Luckily, I've made a lot of good friends who work there as well. I leave whenever I wish but normally I like to say the whole day. At night, I play video games until I pass out.
What inspires you as an artist?
Ambition. I’ve grown up, I realized the world is a rough place. I am terrified of not being able to support myself in the future, this fuels me every morning.
What impact could the legalization of cannabis in Mexico have?
We've had so much violence because of narcos. There is so much going on that people smoking weed are the least of concerns for the police, so people are pretty open about it. I've never heard of the police entering an average Mexican's house to arrest him/her for smoking pot at home.
I think smoking should be something that is personal and introspective, instead of a way of life. Every person has their own relationship with this plant. I made Cutiepipes because they are discreet and look like fun decorations. I want my products to be separated from the narco culture. There is a lot of controversy surrounding whether or not smoking should be done in public or in front of children. Our laws are likely to keep it that way.
Despite this, the situation for stoners in Mexico is still comfortable. Buying weed is easy and as long as people smoke in their homes there's no problem. However, I wish that marihuana would stop being associated with bloodshed and crime here in Mexico. I believe the only way to achieve this is by legalization.
I've seen other cities legalize and become safer. I definitely think it would be best to do so but I don't get my hopes up. It is quite possible that drug dealers are much more involved in politics than I would like to imagine. Legalization is rather complicated for the corrupt Mexican government. There's a lot of talk and theories on this matter, so I think I'll just wait and see what happens!
If you could offer a cannabis entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Quality is the most important thing to build a reputation. Your product may be great looking, but functionality comes first. Make lots of prototypes before selling! Then make them beautiful. Value your time and effort, put a price on it.