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making a living and lists

updated tue 30 sep 97


Jon Pettyjohn on fri 29 aug 97

Hi Joseph,

on the subject of making a living you wrote:

> While we are making lists, I would like to have my name added to the one that
> says it s hard to make a living from pottery. I am not a college professor
> so I may not qualify, but I feel that telling a 19 year old that it is
> impossible to make a living from clay is correct 99.95 percent of the time.
> So five in ten thousand might be able to. That is similar to the odds of a
> high school football or basketball player making it to the pros. For the
> same odds, the sport things pay lots better.

I've thought a lot about this too, having worked as a potter for the
last 25 yrs. Being a potter here in the Philippines is easier in some
ways, the cost of living is lower (but getting higher everyday) maybe
that's why I've never been cynical about earning a living from clay.

I have to say though that I do find it's getting tougher the older I
get and I'm wondering why this is. Maybe as my 3 kids get older
(they're grade 4 to H.S.) my expenses get higher. Maybe it's something
to do with the economy as I mentioned (I hear things are tough in
North America too) or maybe the older we get we tend to spend more
(got to watch out for those expensive tastes).

It does seems like it should get easier right? I wonder if anybody
else experiences this? Still, I'm not discouraged and I'm sure if
I work hard and put some thought in it we'll find a way. I wouldn't
discourage young people to enter the field but I do sometimes tell
young students to think carefully about their future income and how
how they plan to get it.

Interesting your thoughts on the "odds" of becoming a professional
potter are about the same as becoming a high earning pro athelete.
In a way this must be true. I have often had this suspicion that
if someone is going to choose a career in the arts why not choose
one that pays well, or where you could "hit the jackpot" so to say,
like cinematography for example, not many millionaire potters around
but there sure are some rich movie peolple.

The answer that always comes back to me is this; we don't really
pick our career, it picks us. You could be born Steven Spielberg
or you could be born the unknown potter but either way the key to
success is the love and passion you bring to your work. Having this,
I think the odds are reversed a million to one in your favor.

Jon Pettyjohn Manila

Dan Wilson on mon 8 sep 97

Jack turns to Billy and says: "Billy boy, the first thing you have to
understand is that there's no art in making a living - The art is in making
a way of life. Thats the important thing to know. Now if you really want to
make a living doing Art, the first thing you gotta do is learn to play the
piano. To coin a phrase." (He pauses with a smile.) "Stop by my office
tomorrow. I'll give you a list of some players that I've known."

So Billy, just stands there thinkin to himself he's about ready to pass out
from the heat of the Alpine. Thinkin about playin the piano. Bach and
Beethoven came to his mind. Tom and Jerry too. And Aunt Lilly. She could
really play! Thinkin about all those famous people everyone talks about...
and Aunt Lilly... She came up from Alabama back in the teens with her
sister, Billy's gramma, and they settled in the Pacific Northwest. Aunt
Lilly was a huge woman who took to resting on high stools instead of
sitting down in chairs. Some said if she ever sat down properly she might
never get up again. Thats why her house was so clean. "Laaand sakes!" she
used to say, fanning her face with her right hand. "I feel a need to plaaay
the piano." It was with this kind of understanding that Billy began looking
forward to Jacks list of those who played.

"True insanity is using the same behavior andexpecting different results"
Albert Einstein.