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About Stephen

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  • Birthday 10/02/1960

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  1. Dragons think pop up shows are good!

    ahh, I did read the article and came to the conclusion that the show was being done in an area and although scheduled and ongoing for that city it did lack a specific show location. Guess I read it wrong. The Seattle pop-ups I referenced were this way in that they are organized and scheduled every year in advance with jury pools etc but the location shifts around the city and they organize 5 or 6 shows each year.
  2. Dragons think pop up shows are good!

    Hi Callie what kind of popup show do you do? Would love to hear about the setup and results? We considered a couple in Seattle but it just didn't seem right for pottery as there literally is none of the back support you get from a planned show. Literally it was just taking over a busy street corner for an afternoon and counting on just busy downtown foot traffic to provide the revenue. If I could roll in with a couple of boxes and a table maybe, but a pottery booth in that situation seemed like a stretch. The parking was in a garage a couple of streets over that they worked out a slight discount with but was still going to be $50. I don't even think restrooms were provided and load in/out sounded like a nightmare.
  3. Competing Styles

    ha ha, maybe so, but going to do more. While I do very much respect the brain trust this board represents I do from time to time disagree with some of the input in regards to my direction. Even then it is invaluable and very much appreciated. A good debate is not to simply hear what you want to hear but hear for and against opinions. That rounds out the argument and enables me (and hopefully others) to thoughtfully make decisions. I failed in my first try at going full time as a potter, lost a year re-grouping and now with this re-boot I am doing a self analysis of what I'm doing. Skill is a daily thing and always will be. Put in the reps and toss bad work. Do more of what sells and less of what doesn't. Mixing styles and per another thread of mine last year, mediums (wood cutting boards) is bucking norms but I have decided that that is part of who I am as an artisan. Now of course the level of success that brings will work itself out in time. The make it or be damned approach didn't work so I am now taking a page out of Mea's always thoughtful advice and sticking with the day job and building pottery up part time. If it works itself up to a full time income then I guess I will be at a new crossroads. Part time does not mean less serious but it does mean compartmentalized. On this particular subject, I am just I absolutely convinced that point of sale displays will be good for my booth and will work to increase sales. Many here talk about pottery and art sales in general as not being able to escape the realities of commerce and I do believe that and that means giving weight to those standards and POS displays are considered extremely effective by almost every source I have read. I also firmly believe that many, if not most, folks that buy handmade pottery do so in part because they like buying artist/artisan products and they like supporting the makers. I do get that many here don't share that view and that's Ok but I think pottery has a rich historical backstory and I think my customers do care about it and playing it up a bit in my booth will help. I have this opinion after several dozen shows of dealing with all types of customers and decades of personal experience related to me and scores of people in my life space. Everybody knows they can go to any number of big box stores and buy very nice factory pottery for half the price of handmade.
  4. Competing Styles

    Well I really don't think adding a couple of display signs with enlarged images of my studio process to my booth is going to be a big negative.
  5. Competing Styles

    ha, ha yeah I'm good at that. I certainly don't want to argue with folks like Mark and Ron that have been doing this much longer than me. At my shows I get a lot of folks that specifically buy handmade and like to support artist, or at least they say they do. I do know since I have been back I have seen several threads on how handmade is in right now and everyone is doing a lot better at shows and shops than they had been doing over the past few years so that seems to support my position somewhat. I mean handmade matters or it doesn't. I know 20-25 years ago my wife and I and all of her family were combing fairs for handmade pottery and it mattered to us. I've still got some $50 cups from late 80's that we couldn't afford to prove it. Now for the last 20 we have bought much more but that doesn't count because my wife was potting and I am fairly sure her interest in pottery stems from all of those years of buying handmade pottery. Anyway, banners are cheap and even if they don't increase sales I seriously doubt they will decrease them and they will make me feel more proactive :-)
  6. Competing Styles

    Ya know Ron I just have to disagree on that one. I've only done few dozen shows but It's been my experience that people that like pottery do care. Even at my worst shows, the folks that come into my booth are by and large folks that like handmade, probably like pottery and the process matters to them and they pay more because of it and many feel very positive about supporting an artist/potter directly. I think most people don't know much about the process and hence seldom ask much about it. Most customers I also think like to have good packaging with cards etc for gifts. They want the recipient to know they bought handmade and didn't just grab a $5 mug at a big box store. now one of the kilns is fairly shiny but I will use the older worn looking one for my shots
  7. Competing Styles

    Exactly Chris, The price of banners is really so low that I want to really increase the use of them. I want my booth to have more backstory about it. I'm thinking a series of enlarged studio images with captions talking about the process but the pictures being informative enough that just glancing at the banners will convey the story and drive home the point that it's handmade. I might even have a couple of my old pads with earphones setting out with some video's for anyone whose interested. Pottery is cool and at the shows I do a lot of folks don't really get it. I mean they do but they don't. I know some people break through this barrier by having a wheel set up. Don't see myself doing this as just too much to do that and try and run the booth too but its that feel I want to get going. Now that I don't need the volume I will be concentrating on higher dollar pots and I want the booth to feel more expensive if that makes sense. Although these are not high-end art shows, people are spending money and they are buying gifts. i always feel like my booth is just blending in too much. I want more pop but in a good way.
  8. Competing Styles

    I am listening and really do hear the wisdom of this group and I know the overall consensus is right, sigh. I closed my doors (urr.. tent flaps) a year ago now and should be back up as a part timer in a few weeks. Everything feels new and with my reduced part time schedule I started re-thinking what has been my emerging lineup over the past three seasons. I have a few hundred pots boxed and was hitting stride pushing about 80 pots through a week. Was tough with one 7cf 1027 for bisque and glaze. Production routine was so important, now it's not. If I had made it then I don't think I would be at this crossroads because I would just be, well producing :-) Not really into fate but I think I will try and roll all of the wonderful advice above with a bit of change, just not as drastic as my original post. I have about 10 forms represented that I feel are where they need to be. I am going back through those boxes and will likely cull another 10-15% to really get it down to nothing but really solid work. I am pretty good at culling the work but I must admit as a fledgling business I started letting through a few pieces here and there that I was on the fence about and will pull out. I really have rolled these two statements around in my head since Chris and Mark posted. I see 35-50 pots tops a week with the new reduced schedule. My existing 300 or so pots are porcelain and I like the work and will keep making it but I am going to start adding some work with emphasis on the additional effects I can achieve in my oxidation environment along with Egyptian paste in my smaller test kiln and I am going to re-design my booth to work with this. I think large informative signs will help in conveying the different processes and may help pull things back together as a somewhat cohesive pottery booth albeit one with multiple styles. Many of the shows I do are somewhere between fairs and art shows. If they have done a good job keeping out buy/sell then its mostly a line up of makers in the area with artist booths in the mix. I seldom see more than another one or two potters. I think with a good booth I can make this work and have some punch with both a good solid functional line and some separated pots of different styles. Ya know I really think that a good form off the wheel is a good form. That skill is the bedrock of my work and I am not all over the place with that and will just keep getting in the daily reps. Production I am convinced is the best path to taking my pottery to the highest and best level it can go. Mugs for example as a hobbyist probably had almost an hour invested by the time they hit the shelf glazed but as a full timer that ended up around 15 minutes with maybe an extra 5 when I added badges and the form is better. I plan to keep up this push even though I no longer depend on pottery for food (which was a great motivator when tired). Thanks everyone!
  9. OK I didn't want to high jack a thread but we really hit on something of tremendous interest to me. I think business is a decent place to ask/discuss this because it goes to the heart of being viable in the selling of your work and that does matter to me. I completely understand the point of developing a particular style and sticking with it. I have researched and tried to conform. Continuity and consistency seems to be the leading points. People will come to recognize you as an artist based on the style you develop. You will better develop an expertise and a clearer artistic voice. Put a booth together with multiple styles and it will confuse your customers and it makes you look amateurish. Your style sets you apart from other artist and defines your... bla bla bla. But seriously, why? Pottery itself is redefined now. It's no longer a core industry but a labor of artistic toil. The only reason to make pottery is because you want to express yourself through process, output or both. If I was a painter I would work in pencil, watercolor and oil. I might plop all three on a canvas just to be arrogant. As a potter I want to work in low, mid, high, reduction, oxidation. I want to eventually cover all the firing techniques and as I become proficient I want to build out my line with forms from all of them. I want to add Egyptian paste jewelry (cool history). I want to mix functional and non functional. I want to express myself and from the few dozen low revenue shows I have done I think it would work and to be honest if done well I think it would have vastly increased my revenue at every one of these types of shows. I get that the high end art shows might/would shun me but who's kidding who I am not going to be doing many, if any, of those shows in any numbers any time soon. I seriously don't see how developing and selling same style mugs, bowls, plates etc. is going to make me any more successful. Why do so many feel you cannot develop a following of cutomers who like to see different styles under one tent. Would love to hear input positive and negative. Why do we as 2018 potters have to be boxed in to a choice for the rest of our careers?
  10. Nothing wrong with being rigid with your plans but it just might not match up with accomplishing the goal of making a living in pottery. If the ultimate goal is not to make a living then you can certainly do whatever you want and if it does not generate enough income then just supplement your income with a part time job of some sort. You mentioned failing a couple of times so that seems to be an acceptable outcome and that will take the pressure off if your approach just won't line up with a living wage and you can make whatever adjustments you need to make it work.
  11. Ya know here's the thing, no one at the shows or other selling venues you can get into will look at you any different the day after you quit your job to become a potter. It's going to take decades for your name to mean anything in the business so it's all going to come down to the pots and if you can sell them in large enough numbers to make a living. ya don't need to wait four years for that, you can start that today. IMHO If it won''t work part time it wont work full time either and man once you quit your job its all going out with nothing coming in. I really recommend to you to sit down in a quiet room and let that notion settle for a bit. If you can't get a garage space bringing in few grand a month working part time then the rest of the plan is probably suspect. Don't get why you think the garage is a bad place to start. It's free and with no pottery revenue that makes it a great place to start. If you own, can you add a kiln building in your back yard? That will free up space. A lot of potters are moving to cone 6 so it's not an issue that you start out there. That big car kiln can be part of your success, in the meantime you can push a weekly $1000+ bisque load and glaze load through a 7-9 cf electric kiln. That's about 10 pieces of finished pottery a day. Probably need to make half again that much to end up with those numbers on a shelf in the beginning. Just cull the bad stuff and your rack will look as good as anyone's, just takes you longer to get there as a new potter. Trust yourself on this, if it seems to heavy, it is. Simon leach was able to run his converted electric for a time in a small space. Maybe I'm wrong though but to push through numbers for real revenue the converted kiln is really too much fuss and most of all too much expense. Electric means $10 kiln loads. Why not be good at both. When you break out then you can move toward high fire when you can afford the right setup. Etsy is likely just going to be good for a pot here and there (hope I'm wrong) so as a new guy you are probably going to be grabbing whatever show you can find. Do you have a booth ready yet, Costco sells some good options. You will need a table, some shelves and a couple of chairs and a dozen odds and ends. Why not table this some day stuff and get to work putting together your inventory and first show rig and go meet and greet some customers. Trust me you have what you need to get started and you can't be a potter until you slogged your way through a few dozen low revenue 15 hour show days. In any event, I do wish you the best of luck and hope however you decide to proceed works out well for you. Even if you ignore my input at least add a big dose of caution to your plans, those future sales are a lot easier to imagine than realize.
  12. profitable. Ya know no matter where you fall in the pottery/artist definition if you turn out any numbers it only makes sense to sell as your friends and family can only absorb so much pottery. Also selling is really a very cool part of pottery.
  13. retired professional potters?
  14. Just curious how everyone's season sales went.
  15. Instagram or Facebook or ??? What?

    One thing I will add is that on Etsy where most say they never sell much there are a number of potters that manage to sell work in some numbers. Whitney Smith, an Oakland potter has almost 4000 sales since 2007 for example. With prices of $100 + (her stuff isn't cheap) that easily gets her to mid six figures depending on the mix, maybe more. Just guessing but with a ramp on the 10 year number, say 50k a year is coming from etsy these days, with a location that's probably an important income stream. I would imagine that social media played an out-sized role in driving sales to etsy. But even without an online income stream to point to, online media is just part of the deal these days. It is hard to qualify and if you just plop something out, wait a while and without some direct sales to attribute to it, say "see social media is more trouble than it's worth" I think you are really missing the point. Us old folks may long for the days when everyone didn't have their head in a phone while waiting for something but for anyone born in the 90's forward online is blended into everyday life.

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