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Chris Campbell

Success - what is it?

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I just posted a new page on my website where I discuss the habits / traits of successful people. I researched this topic for a magazine article a few years back and was surprised to learn that no matter what the field of activity was the people who were successful shared the same behavior patterns.

 

http://www.ccpottery.com/10-habits-of-successful.html

 

As you will see, I stopped at ten since it seemed like a popular number, but if you can think of others I will be glad to add them.

 

What I forgot to ask the people I interviewed was what they considered success to be.

 

I would like to add to this article by asking YOU ... potters at all the stages of a pottery career/sideline to tell me what you think success would be for you.

How would you recognize it?

What would it mean to you?

What would you do afterwards?

 

As always, there is no $$$ in this for me ... my website is informational and no magazine has commissioned a follow up article ... just want to post more info for anyone looking for encouragement. THANKS

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I have been dabbling in pottery off and on for many years. Only recently have I begun working with clay in earnest, and it has consumed me. it has become the full time job on top of my real full time job. The difference is that one of these I love, and I'll give you a hint, it isn't the one where I wear a suit.

 

To me, there are two different milestones of what I would consider success:

 

The first, and more lofty in my opinion, is being able to make the ends meet without my soulless day job. I'm not asking for much, just the ends meeting. I'll even live on a diet of all $0.12 instant ramen noodles, and I would consider myself successful.

 

The second, and maybe more realistic marker of success is a little harder to define. I would consider myself a successful potter when I feel as though my soul is nourished by what I do. Whether I ever gain recognition, or have my work in a gallery, or quit my day job, or make a dime, I consider clay work to be a successful endeavor if I feel rewarded doing it.

 

I often grapple about which of these markers I strive for more, or should strive for. Do I really try to make the ends meet? Or do I find solace in "real life" by just being able to work with clay? It's difficult to decide. But, for what my two newb cents are worth, the above is how I would define success.

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I liked Vervain's comments. Chris, I read your list. I think my greatest successes have been the achievements of my students, my own "ah ha" moments, those times when something has intentionally been achieved or unintentionally. I love to push new applications of materials in an attempt to achieve a particular affect. Clay is a complicated medium always challenging and humbling. It has provided me with a lifetime of engagement appreciating the history of ceramics through all the civilizations, contemporary artists, and just personally working in my studio.

 

In my earlier years, NCECA provided a camaraderie of exchange among other like-minded clay people. Then there was Clayart, a daily dose of exchange. Now this forum, where we can share, help, ask, etc. I have to say I find ceramics, pottery and our chosen field to lend itself to this type of sharing. I think that has been a satisfying experience since the mid-1960s. I have been lucky to have a 40+ year career of working and teaching in clay, traveling the world and meeting potters and ceramic artists of great diversity from the Soviet Artists' Union, to folk potters of Spain and Portugal. I have had residencies working with people from around the world. I have a satisfied mind, to quote a favorite song.

 

Marcia

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I liked Vervain's comments. Chris, I read your list. I think my greatest successes have been the achievements of my students, my own "ah ha" moments, those times when something has intentionally been achieved or unintentionally. I love to push new applications of materials in an attempt to achieve a particular affect. Clay is a complicated medium always challenging and humbling. It has provided me with a lifetime of engagement appreciating the history of ceramics through all the civilizations, contemporary artists, and just personally working in my studio.

 

In my earlier years, NCECA provided a camaraderie of exchange among other like-minded clay people. Then there was Clayart, a daily dose of exchange. Now this forum, where we can share, help, ask, etc. I have to say I find ceramics, pottery and our chosen field to lend itself to this type of sharing. I think that has been a satisfying experience since the mid-1960s. I have been lucky to have a 40+ year career of working and teaching in clay, traveling the world and meeting potters and ceramic artists of great diversity from the Soviet Artists' Union, to folk potters of Spain and Portugal. I have had residencies working with people from around the world. I have a satisfied mind, to quote a favorite song.

 

Marcia

 

 

I think my greatest successes have been the achievements of my students, I can really relate to that. Back in my 30's had a bit of mid career crisis. Thought I was not doing anything with my career/life. Started doing shows, making more pots, staying up nights til 2am. Realized after a couple of years that it was affecting my job. Thing was, I loved my day time with the kids, teaching about art, ceramics, animation. Loved it. So I quit doing the pottery that I also loved, and concentrated on teaching. In the end, best decision. When I retired for other reasons, I was not ready, but now I have time to return to the clay much more. I am still am reminded of the success of the daytime job every time I see an old student and hear how they did after they left me. Many went on to college for art in either ceramics, animation, or some other facet. Many work at careers that make more than I monetarily, and they are really happy doing so. Others are struggling artists, but happy also. I was successful, and very satisfied.

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(What I forgot to ask the people I interviewed was what they considered success to be.)

For me at this stage in my ceramic career as a functional potter its about less-

doing less shows-making and selling less-choosing to say no on special orders-doing more salt glazing less production work.

Less is more and I have to agree.

I will add that your top 10 is spot on

Not everyone has that drive to give 110% and never take your eye off the ball and get up after 10 falls.

I think its something to do with upbringing and personality-cutting your own path through life.

Mark

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Well I can definitely relate to vervain's answer ... the point when I realized I could stop doing my previous career was a very satisfying day. Made all the years of hard work seem like time well spent.

 

These days, my definition of success is more like Mark's ... trying to figure out how to work less while still making ends meet. It's a whole new area to explore, and just as interesting. If I were to achieve this, what would I do? Take some killer vacations.

 

As for Chris's list of 10 things .... I guess this would fall under Self Knowledge, but a successful person needs to be HONEST about himself/herself. Know what you're good at, what you aren't good at. Know when your work is going to pass muster, and when it needs more work. In my experience I've met an awful lot of aspiring artists who are missing this trait.

 

Mea

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Success for me is when I open the kiln, remove a piece and it is beautiful, to all my senses and my soul. I feel inspired to begin again creating another piece on the wheel or hand built. Success continues when a piece is beautiful to the receiver of my piece. I like my day job, low key most of the time, great benefits helps the process of working....I look forward to retirement (five years) and where my love for clay will take me.

 

Edie

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Duckie, I really like your answer because in the end making work that makes your soul soar is really what it is all about for me. All the other points or marks of success are important - but to produce that bowl with a form that flows perfectly or that pitcher that goes together and becomes art for the kitchen is truly a wonderful thing.

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I' m a beginner....

Materialistic.--- sell enough so it (pottery), finances itself.

Buld and own a atmospheric kiln.

Not material---- continue to grow skills wise, stay challenged

continue to enjoy the journey

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I have been dabbling in pottery off and on for many years. Only recently have I begun working with clay in earnest, and it has consumed me. it has become the full time job on top of my real full time job. The difference is that one of these I love, and I'll give you a hint, it isn't the one where I wear a suit.

 

To me, there are two different milestones of what I would consider success:

 

The first, and more lofty in my opinion, is being able to make the ends meet without my soulless day job. I'm not asking for much, just the ends meeting. I'll even live on a diet of all $0.12 instant ramen noodles, and I would consider myself successful.

 

The second, and maybe more realistic marker of success is a little harder to define. I would consider myself a successful potter when I feel as though my soul is nourished by what I do. Whether I ever gain recognition, or have my work in a gallery, or quit my day job, or make a dime, I consider clay work to be a successful endeavor if I feel rewarded doing it.

 

I often grapple about which of these markers I strive for more, or should strive for. Do I really try to make the ends meet? Or do I find solace in "real life" by just being able to work with clay? It's difficult to decide. But, for what my two newb cents are worth, the above is how I would define success.

 

 

I am with you. To be able to make enough to make ends meet, doing this every day - that would be success. I don't envy wealthy people at all, but I do envy those who can do this full time.

Nancy

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As for Chris's list of 10 things .... I guess this would fall under Self Knowledge, but a successful person needs to be HONEST about himself/herself. Know what you're good at, what you aren't good at. Know when your work is going to pass muster, and when it needs more work. In my experience I've met an awful lot of aspiring artists who are missing this trait.

 

Mea

 

 

 

Yeah but what your good at and not good at today is only an indication of tomorrow and both change all the time if your working at it. As long as your pressing forward you are still in the game and that's what counts. It's been my experience that when folks start doing a lot of negative self examination it can be demoralizing. I do get that it can be positive in as much as it helps to be clear about future goals but confidence is also essential if you're going to boldly move forward.

 

I do however come from a 'you can do anything' upbringing and at 52 I really think this has served me well throughout life so I have a very dim view of the 'lets be honest about your capabilities' viewpoint.

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I do get that it can be positive in as much as it helps to be clear about future goals but confidence is also essential if you're going to boldly move forward.

 

 

 

This is exactly what I meant. I do not think that being honest about yourself is negative or demoralizing. It's a sure sign of confidence. It opens the door to growth. But lots of people do not have this ability. It doesn't sound like you have this issue. But I have seen it many many times, both in my professional world and my classroom.

 

Mea

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I do get that it can be positive in as much as it helps to be clear about future goals but confidence is also essential if you're going to boldly move forward.

 

 

 

This is exactly what I meant. I do not think that being honest about yourself is negative or demoralizing. It's a sure sign of confidence. It opens the door to growth. But lots of people do not have this ability. It doesn't sound like you have this issue. But I have seen it many many times, both in my professional world and my classroom.

 

Mea

 

 

I certainly respect your background and experience on the subject. I am not an artist nor have I been a teacher. It must be a tough call on your part since so much of this is subjective to the personal preference of the artisan and you are faced with an aspiring craftsperson/artist that feels they have achieved their objective and you disagree and think they are capable of something you think of as better. A person taking a community based non-credit advanced pottery course, by definition, admits that they need and want further instruction and it is of course your job to try and push them to achieve.

 

Although I have not been a teacher, I have been a business owner/manager for many years and have found that many very talented and capable people, particularly when they are engaging in something that is causing them to stretch, will pull back into what they perceive as their comfort zone when faced with a clash of wills, as I would perceive a standoff over artistic merit would qualify. It can be a real setback for them.

 

Of course you know all of this as a teacher and I was not trying to challenge you, just tossing in my 2 cents, at the end of the day I would assume it's the artisans call since first and foremost it is their expression that counts the most as the intent of this thread implies.

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My idea of success is to do what I love and earn enough doing it to not have to do something I don't. I've been working and earning as an artist all my life and until 2008 doing just fine earning a moderate amount working part time at it (back then husband had bill paying job so could follow my muse) then the crash hit and my clients discovered that they didn't really "need" another painting for a wall of a house they might not own next month. Husband no longer had the cushy job. So I started taking more commercial jobs photoshopping images, scanning slides negatives etc. I do okay doing that as well but my soul is wrapped up in the images I see in my head and can bring into the world with my hands and that is what I hope to continue doing and doing more of it; enough to not have to get another job that eats my soul rather than feeds it. I'll work around the clock every day of the week for the privilege of being able to create... To me that is success.

 

Terry

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