primalmommy on wed 12 jul 06
It's all a matter of what you want to spend your days doing. Like George
Carlin says, you're not supposed to LIKE work, otherwise they'd call it
"fun" and you wouldn't get paid for it. ("Bye, honey! I'm off to fun!")
But having established that, it's a luxury to be able to choose your
focus from day to day. Five thousand mugs and peddling them around town?
Or a couple of big arty pieces and schmooze the galleries?
Sure, there's always a risk that you can't sell what you make, or you'll
take the wrong risk, and end up in the hole. But that's true if you're a
day trader too.
Potters talk like the walmart coffee mug is going to be the death of us.
Try being a realtor, or a travel agent, in the age of travelocity and
forsalebyowner.com. At least we are creative types, and can shift our
emphasis when the economy requires it. Fuel gets expensive? Diana starts
firing ^6 reduction. Tourists not paying $3 a gallon to visit Tony? Hit
the wineries, the galleries, the locals with deep pockets.
But it doesn't matter about marketing if your work isn't good. It seems
for all my potter life I have been doing this slingshot thing. I go full
push on how to sell my work -- shoot pix, crank up the website, pull out
Then I look at my work and say -- "GAAAAH! I can't believe I have been
parading these dogs in front of people!" I pull them down, sell them for
nothing, hammer them up, start fresh.
The new work shines.. and back I go into sell mode. Until the next
developmental growth spurt.
Come september, the MFA will further complicate things -- but it just
makes me think more about time and money, what works best that I can
still live with. One evening a week teaching at the guild nets a
predictable paycheck. I bring my own clay so I can sell my demos (though
like Tony says, demos usually get about a C+.) Private students drop by
all summer for an hour here and there, $30 an hour for one, $50 if it's
two... could I make that many dollars worth of pots in that hour? Not if
I left my kitchen at 10 and was back at 11. An entire day's work might
generate some momentum, repetition of a form or uninterrupted focus on
something more cerebral... but long stretches of time are not a luxury I
have this summer. Come September, whole days will be blocked off for the
studio; this summer, my most profitable harvest is students.
I collect perspectives form everybody, try them on like hats.
Like E. says, freedom from worrying about what will sell is part of
what's required to explore new concepts and challenge yourself. But like
Tony says, some of the best work being made is generated by potters who
have to pay the bills.
I am willing to spend half a day grinding, mixing, proofing, kneading,
forming, stoking and baking for a loaf of bread. It's work that feeds my
soul like the bread feeds my family. It's worth my energy.
But my friend Edith Franklin says -- got to the studio and make pots,
sell them, use the money to pay somebody to cook and clean and do the
stuff you don't want to bother with because you'd rather make pots.
I have no thesis here...no poignant conclusion. I'm off duty.
Kelly in Ohio
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