primalmommy@IVILLAGE.COM on thu 14 jun 01
I agree with shane mickey that if you don't have the skills as a potter, it makes no difference who you know. If galleries sold only the work of friends and relatives, and the work had no merit, they'd go broke in a hurry.
There are exceptions, of course. When I was struggling to publish poetry, I knew that even the greatest contemporary poets have very limited book sales. Then a very famous, somewhat silly TV starlet published a book of poetry and it went into a third printing. Yeah, I grumbled. But it didn't make the work of today's major poets any worse, nor did it make her work any better. I learned the business of submitting and marketing my writing, but if I hadn't worked just as hard on my writing it would have been pointless.
So if I don't grow as a potter, but I master the technique of slick salesmanship, here's what I win: I can insure that my bad pottery is in households all over the country, to embarrass me later. Some students who master the art of charming teachers skate through school/college with high grades, never having to actually learn anything. Same kind of shortsightedness, I'd say... down the road, you still don't have the skills.
Still, Ivor makes a good point about knowing how to reach an audience. What if the best potter (or poet) in the world is shy, or for lack of savvy doesn't know how to get his/her work seen/sold? If art happens and nobody sees it... did it matter?
In a perfect world, (or a smaller village), people would seek out good work, by word of mouth, and nobody would have to understand how the business part works. We're not in that world.
But I'm not sure it's the job of potters to teach marketing. There are classes, both academic and through various community services channels, in how to operate a small business. Marketing, bookkeeping, you name it. There are some good books on marketing your art/crafts.
I'm not sure anybody has the power to "make" an artist happen, or hand out success. And I sincerely doubt any artist of merit got there by "kissing up". It would be possible, I suppose, to have some talent but be so unpleasant or rude that nobody wants your stuff; it happens at street fairs all the time. Still, when you look at our history, a lot of great writers and artists were a bit ... anitsocial. Good work should stand on its own, at least in the long haul. So I'd guess we need the basics of selling/running a business, but above all need to focus on clay.
Yours, Kelly in Ohio (where it's hotter than the hinges of hell)
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