Connie Christensen on sun 28 dec 03
> "If you are devoted enough and can find enough passion within
> yourself, you will find an almost infinite number of ways to
> make a living at the things you want to do."
> Your focus must be your passion.
I think the key elements to becoming a full-time potter are passion,
commitment and trust, especially if you're going it alone. (I also like
David's idea of "marrying well," I still have to figure out how to do that
one - not so easy at 52.)
It's been important for me to be in the studio making pots every day to be
able to see growth and change in my work. When I worked full time and had
one or two evenings to make pots, the technical skills just didn't improve
very fast. In 1994 I made the leap. You know that saying "leap and the net
will appear". Well, it does, and that's were the trust comes in. There are a
lot of times that I have no idea how the money is going to show up but it
does, often from unexpected places.
It's certainly a life-style change if you don't have a significant other
there to help out financially or emotionally and I'm pretty much living on
the edge and spend little money. But I've had a studio now since 1994 and
bring in some extra money teaching a couple of classes at an art center and
a workshop here and there.
So, if you have enough passion, are committed to working in clay and trust
that it will work for you, there is no reason not to do it. I didn't have
much of a plan, but I did buy some equipment before I quit my job. And about
trusting the money will show up, well the company I worked for was
down-sizing and asking for volunteers to leave, with severance pay. And of
course, it seemed like the right time to take that leap since my first year
was covered, it was after that that the real trust had to kick in.
I feel very fortunate to be able to go to the studio every day. I can't
imagine doing anything else right now. I'm sure there are people who would
need to do much better planning than I did before taking the plunge. We all
have different levels of comfort and needs. Just make sure the passion is
there and trust it will work for you.
(If I'd thought to much about the financial aspects of quitting my job and
becoming a potter, I probably would have scared myself out of doing it.)
David Hendley on sun 28 dec 03
I am interested in the "how to make a living as a potter"
discussions that come up so often with this group, so I have
been reading postings on the subject for the last week, between
Christmas dinners, holiday activities, and a trip to a funeral
for an aunt.
The best reference I can suggest on the subject is "The Seven
Laws of Money", by Michael Phillips. My copy was printed
in 1974, but I think various editions have been published
through the years and might even still be in print.
The "First Law" is the most applicable to this discussion. It is:
"Do it! Money will come when you are doing the right thing."
Phillips says that this law is the hardest for most people to
accept, and people who have strong money-oriented goals are
not going to accept the almost mystical view that money is
secondary to what you are doing.
"If you are devoted enough and can find enough passion within
yourself, you will find an almost infinite number of ways to
make a living at the things you want to do."
Your focus must be your passion.
"Money is like steam; it comes from the interaction of fire
(passion) and water (persistence) brought together in the right
circumstance, the engine."
Intimately tied in with the First Law is the idea of "right livelihood".
It is a hard-to-explain concept that places money secondary
to what you are doing.
Phillips offers some general questions to ask yourself to find
out if you are pursuing a "right livelihood":
1. Can you undertake your work for a long time?
Aging works FOR you in right livelihood. You will have,
through your constant practice and perfection of skills,
a connection with the entire world, like the old man in
Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea".
2. What are the rewards?
The work is its own reward. It deepens the person who
3. Is the good intrinsic in your livelihood also good in terms of
the greater community?
With a right livelihood you would not be doing what you
are doing and at the same time saying you would rather be
doing something else.
So, since Lili's is asking for answers to her question:
>A potter wants to make a certain type of stuff. Because it is so labor
>intensive, and woodfired at c. 13, and
>Heaven knows what pricey else, she
>finds that if she sells two pieces a year she is doing well. So she is a
>substitute art-teacher, waits tables on weekends, and like that. WHY is
>that person less of a potter than her (you
>guessed it) twin-sister who
>makes kitsch that sells so fabulously she has to hire help--albeit it for
If your dream is to become a potter and you wait tables and teach
art to make money so you can then make pottery,
you are now a changed person.
You are no longer an aspiring potter whose focus is your passion.
You are now a waiter/teacher, with money in the bank.
The first sister's dream has dissipated.
We can't tell for sure about the second twin sister from the information
offered. If she is truly practicing her right livelihood, then she is,
indeed, "more of a potter" than sister number one.
Her focus is her passion.
The danger here is that her focus (and passion) may have changed from
being a potter to making ever-more money and growing the business,
an easy-to-fall-into trap of success.
Finally, since I have seen my name and my Clay Times column from
last year "Marry Well" mentioned in these discussions I would like to
emphasize that the point of "marrying well", as described in the column,
is not to find someone to monetarily support you so you can make
things with clay. Your own commitment, yours and your partner's
expectations, and mutual emotional support are all more important
than money, and tremendously helpful factors for a successful career
in the arts.