Career Story: Independent Ceramic Artist

Independent Ceramic Artist

Job Title: Potter, Ceramic Artist

Type of Company: I make both functional and non-functional ceramic pots and sell them at national craft shows.

Education: BFA, Massachusetts College of Art •• MFA, UMass-Amherst

Previous Experience: I went to art school, took a class in ceramics and have been making things with clay ever since.

Job Tasks: First of all, I need a place to sell my work. For years I did wholesale shows: that is, I sold my work to galleries and stores and they sold it to the public. For the past 25 years or so I've mainly sold my work myself. I apply (with digital images) to very high quality shows mainly on the East Coast (but I have also gone as far west as Chicago). If I get accepted I bring my work, display booth, tools, etc. and drive to the show, where I set up, and wait for the public to arrive and to, hopefully, buy my work!

I mainly make what I like, but in this particular economic atmosphere I'm trying to make more "affordable" work!

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of what I do is the actual work. After around 35 years of working with clay, I still really like it!

The worst part is all the other stuff I have to do to support making the work: public relations, applying to shows, packing, shipping and so on. But I do enjoy meeting the people who buy my work. There have been times when I've had technical disasters, such as overfiring a kiln and losing 40 pieces that I was making for an upcoming show, or having a clay body that doesn't work for me, but using these disasters as a learning tool has enriched the way I work in the long run.

Job Tips: I think you really need to enjoy what you do in life. If you ONLY work to make money I think your life will be pretty one-dimensional and boring. Also, you need to take risks and learn from the many mistakes along the way....and have some fun!

Additional Thoughts: What I do is not easy. I work lots of hours, don't make a lot of money, work alone a lot, but I discover new things every day, have great friends and a husband who are also artists, have traveled a lot, and I feel like I can do this for the rest of my life and continue to grow as an artist.

If you want to be an artist of any kind you have to be disciplined, have a curious mind, love what you do, be able to take criticism, and keep at it!

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