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About GEP

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    Moderator / full time potter ^6 stoneware

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    Silver Spring, MD
  • Interests
    biking, jogging, cooking and eating, veggie gardening, baseball (Orioles)

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  1. This doesn't quite fit the question, because these are bits of advice that I knew was bad advice, therefore I never tried it. But this type of advice always floats out there. You don't need a hard-sided booth. In the high-end art shows, there are lots of hard-sided booths. If you want to have one, that's your choice. But it's not required. It does not correlate to sales. You need a giant vehicle, power tools, a helper, and many hours to set up your booth. Plus someplace to store the booth when it's not in use. It is possible to have a booth that is efficient to work with, and still looks good in a high-end show. There are plenty of curtain wall booths in high-end shows too. So don't listen to any snob who says "people will take you more seriously." It's a fallacy. I think some artists fall for it because they tell themselves "I spent so much money on this booth, and so much effort to set it up, therefore I should be rewarded with sales." It doesn't work. I have heard several stories of artists who closed their businesses, or stopped doing art fairs, shortly after investing in a hard-walled booth. I don't think it's a coincidence. If your booth setup is easy, that means you can do MORE shows, and that does correlate to sales. Then there's the old "you should raise your prices." If my booth is empty at the end of a show, that doesn't mean I priced it wrong. These artists must think that pricing my work "correctly" means it shouldn't be selling well. I think this is one of those backwards aspects of artist culture that artists should try to outgrow.
  2. This sounds simple, but apparently a lot of people can't do it. Keep a positive attitude throughout an entire show no matter what. You must be unflappable. Poor sales, bad weather, rude people, unruly kids. A fake facade doesn't work. You must find a well of gratitude within you and pump that well all day. As soon as you let bad feelings creep into your head, you are toast. The buying experience is a major factor in why people want to buy handmade work directly from the artist. It has to be fun for the customer. It's no fun when the artist is anxious or grumpy. I see way too many artists at shows who look mad. Sometimes nice people offer to let me stay at their house during a show, but I always decline. I need my own private space in a hotel after a day of selling. I don't want to be social anymore after being social all day. I need to recharge for the next day. Edit to add: This summer I had an artist neighbor who had been in a bad car accident the weekend before. His van was totaled and his display was destroyed. He had a broken rib. He makes clothing so the clothing was not damaged. He showed up with a borrowed display and kept a positive attitude throughout the entire show. That is a real pro.
  3. Go to the Apple app store and search for "ipad photo resizer." There are free apps that will do it. I just downloaded a free one called "Image Size" and it is really easy to use.
  4. Managing your time

    I just met the second person who only knew of my work through Instagram. She didn't want to buy anything, just wanted to take pictures of my work. Then she showered me with a few too many compliments. You could say that's Instagram in a nutshell: pictures and compliments. The first person I met this way, whom I mentioned above, was a college student with a $20 budget to spend. Which isn't nothing, but it's not my main target audience either. Both of these are a good illustration of the value of social media attention in the real world.
  5. That's a good looking operation. Congrats! I especially appreciate the part about making the checkout and pickup process easy for the customers. These days customers are very savvy about good and efficient service. I've seen a lot of festival artists who check out process is painfully slow. It impacts the experience negatively. Especially if the process is slow because the artist is talking too much :-) "You're a really mediocre potter. But a brilliant marketer ... I suppose." Too many artists waste their energy on ego and envy. It only hurts themselves.
  6. Managing your time

    I let myself spend an hour or so online every morning. I check and reply to emails, catch up on the forum, browse facebook, instagram, and reddit. Then I put the iPad down and go to work. I have another iPad in the studio (old and slow) so I do check emails and the forum a few times throughout the day. I make one post to instagram per work day, usually at quitting time. I post to facebook less often than instagram, often its the exact same post I just made on Instagram. I write blog posts maybe once a month, but only when I have something to write about. I don't pressure myself to write otherwise. When I publish a blog post, I announce it on facebook and readers come pouring in. Does it lead to sales? Marginally. I've only met one customer so far who only heard of me through instagram. I meet a lot of blog readers at shows, but honestly they tend not to be big spenders or not buying at all. That's not why I keep a blog so that's ok. I've written this plenty of times on the forum before, and email list is far more powerful than any social media message. Email subscribers are a totally different level of "follower" compared to a social media follower. For every show I write a well-branded email announcement. I consider this indispensible and clearly correlates to sales. Whereas I could easily live without any social media. It's not just the email, it's how I interact with customers when they are standing in front of me that leads to sales. Social media cannot match that. Social media probably works a lot better for those who sell primarily online. I don't, and don't want to. Pottery doesn't lend itself to being shipped. My customers need to visit me in person, therefore the far reach of social media doesn't have much value for me.
  7. Describe a day from your ceramics life that left you thinking "this was a really good day."
  8. If you could go back and start your ceramics journey from the beginning, would you do anything different this time?
  9. The new TCs will be shiny metal. The old ones will be black and crusty and lumpy and flaky. When they fail its because they have crumbled apart. Pls do post a photo of new and old. That will be useful to everyone.
  10. If you have never replaced your thermocouples, it's probably time for new ones. In my experience, thermocuples last a little bit longer than elements, but not twice as long. It's efficient to replace them at the same time everytime, while you've got the controller box open. You don't need to replace the relays unless they are obviously giving you trouble. My 13 yr old kiln is still on its original relays.
  11. If your cups are intended for coffee, in the time it takes to drink a cup of coffee (10-15 minutes) it really doesn't matter if the walls are thin or thick, glazed or unglazed. A narrow top vs a wide top will help a little, but again the difference doesn't matter much. The best way to reduce thermal conduction is to make a vessel with two walls, and a space of air between the walls. That might go against your wish to make "light" cups.
  12. @Marcia Selsor Links to the Ceramic Arts Network and ICAN have been added to the top menu bar. Thanks for the suggestion!
  13. Mixing glazes again.

    If the correct amount of water is part of your recipe (and it boggles my mind when I see or hear of potters who just eyeball the water amount) then you can go ahead a use it right away even if the consistency hasn't settled yet. It's just easier when the glaze has fully hydrated and the consistency looks and feels right.
  14. Mixing glazes again.

    I prefer to use them a day later, because some particles take longer to hydrate and the consistency will settle down by the next day. However, just like Mark, there are plenty of times when I use them the same day, because production demands don't allow time to wait. Doesn't seem to affect the final result, but it does cause more insecurity until you unload the fired pieces. So waiting one day frees you of some worry.
  15. Terms Of Use

    Marcia, when I clicked on your warnings, they contained this notation: "mistakenly flagged herself while deleting a duplicate post." It looks like you somehow flagged yourself? Then an admin (probably Sherman, his account is labelled "Guest" now because he's no longer with ACerS) added this notation so we would know it was nothing. If they are dated 2010, this is from the infancy days of the forum, when we were all trying to learn how to use it. They were probably hidden or deleted, but when we upgraded to new software last month, many settings didn't translate well. I deleted them again. Hopefully they won't resurface anymore!