Jump to content


Photo

Two different worlds out there.


  • Please log in to reply
44 replies to this topic

#1 Claypple

Claypple

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 261 posts
  • LocationReno, NV

Posted 08 May 2013 - 12:24 AM

I keep thinking of an article in Ceramic Monthly of March 2013 written about Scott Cooper.
He had a dream of being a full-time potter and finally fulfilled it. Unfortunately, the things didn't go as planned, the income was unsteady,
and 18 months later he made the choice to reverse his dream and return back to his previous occupation.

This is what he writes about life after he killed his dream:
"Life without it isn't so bad; in fact, it's pretty good. I only get to spend half my working life in the studio, but that time is much freer to do what I want.
I get to make the pots I really want to make, in the ways I want to make them. I can slow down when I need to, and can take more chances while worrying less about their outcome."

I think there ARE two different words out there: the professional potters and people who just do it because they cannot live without it.
Which world do you belong to?

#2 Pres

Pres

    Retired Art Teacher

  • Moderators
  • 1,884 posts
  • LocationCentral, PA

Posted 08 May 2013 - 06:30 AM

I keep thinking of an article in Ceramic Monthly of March 2013 written about Scott Cooper.
He had a dream of being a full-time potter and finally fulfilled it. Unfortunately, the things didn't go as planned, the income was unsteady,
and 18 months later he made the choice to reverse his dream and return back to his previous occupation.

This is what he writes about life after he killed his dream:
"Life without it isn't so bad; in fact, it's pretty good. I only get to spend half my working life in the studio, but that time is much freer to do what I want.
I get to make the pots I really want to make, in the ways I want to make them. I can slow down when I need to, and can take more chances while worrying less about their outcome."

I think there ARE two different words out there: the professional potters and people who just do it because they cannot live without it.
Which world do you belong to?


I think there could be three worlds out there, the two you mentioned, and then the person that has retired. When retired, if your retirement funds are sufficient, then you can make what you want for the love of doing it. If you happen to sell then so be it. You don't have to have $10,000 worth of stock to do a show in 3 months and only have the evening hours and weekends to do it. Retired is another world and I happen to live in that one.

Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#3 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 08 May 2013 - 08:22 AM

I keep thinking of an article in Ceramic Monthly of March 2013 written about Scott Cooper.
He had a dream of being a full-time potter and finally fulfilled it. Unfortunately, the things didn't go as planned, the income was unsteady,
and 18 months later he made the choice to reverse his dream and return back to his previous occupation.

This is what he writes about life after he killed his dream:
"Life without it isn't so bad; in fact, it's pretty good. I only get to spend half my working life in the studio, but that time is much freer to do what I want.
I get to make the pots I really want to make, in the ways I want to make them. I can slow down when I need to, and can take more chances while worrying less about their outcome."

I think there ARE two different words out there: the professional potters and people who just do it because they cannot live without it.
Which world do you belong to?


I think there are two main kinds of potters: Production and Art. (I don't consider hobby potters to be potters so, I'm completely leaving out people who've taken a couple of pottery classes and now inflict their bunny rabbit mugs on relatives as Christmas and ask on this forum what temperatures the little dots on the kiln dials represent or spend 1000 hours carving grapes and fairies on already hideous vases so their son can declare here that it is the world's greatest pottery.) As I've said here before, I don't see the difference between pure production pottery and working in a factory except that in the factory you get more time off and better benefits. It may sound a bit pretentious to call the other main class of potter an Art Potter but that's what I'm calling it because that potter approaches his/her studio the same way a painter or sculptor approaches his/hers. Not at all interested in producing dishes or bragging about having gone through a ton of clay, they go to the studio to express themselves in clay.

How you pay for that time in the studio doesn't matter. Some use their retirement savings and benefits, others have a spouse who provides most of the income, many teach, and some of us do some production pottery to support our REAL pottery.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#4 Marcia Selsor

Marcia Selsor

    Professor Emerita, Montana State University-Billings

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 3,675 posts
  • Locationwhere Texas, Matamoros, Rio Grande and Gulf of Mexico come together.

Posted 08 May 2013 - 08:55 AM

I'd have to say I agree with Jim to a certain extent. I know many Art Potters from around the world who make amazing pieces that are very time consuming and who exhibit is very high end galleries.But they often have to work at something in addition to creating Art. Full time professional potters work really hard to support themselves and their families. There are also those who are lucky to have additional income from a spouse.
There are also those who teach an create.
I am retired after decades of teaching and making pottery. It is wonderful to have the time to be able to go to my studio and make whatever I want without the necessity of the $10,000 stock for a show.

Marcia



#5 Claypple

Claypple

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 261 posts
  • LocationReno, NV

Posted 08 May 2013 - 09:53 AM

Offcenter, that is unfair to bring the question of art/no art to this topic.
First of all, we already know that what is an art for one person is not an art for another.
Secondly, not every well designed/well made bowl, vase,etc has to be a piece of art.

This article was not about the products at all. It is mainly about the choices we make:
What is more suitable for each of us: to get involved in the pottery 100% and become a professional or
to do it at a leisure time.

I, personally, love it that I do not have to rush when I am at the wheel, and I do not have to make the same vessel (bowl, mug, etc)
again and again and again. I like it that I can contemplate for hours before I touch the clay body. I like it that sometimes I have unpredictable result.
I don't think I regret that I've never gone to the art school to become an artist. And I do not really care at this point whether what I make is an art or not.
I just enjoy the fact that I can express myself in something I like.

If I were I professional potter, I would have to be concerned about ..... well, not for me to say. Some of us (some of you) know better.

#6 GEP

GEP

    Moderator / full time potter ^6 stoneware

  • Moderators
  • 793 posts
  • LocationSilver Spring, MD

Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:00 AM

I keep thinking of an article in Ceramic Monthly of March 2013 written about Scott Cooper.
He had a dream of being a full-time potter and finally fulfilled it. Unfortunately, the things didn't go as planned, the income was unsteady,
and 18 months later he made the choice to reverse his dream and return back to his previous occupation.

This is what he writes about life after he killed his dream:
"Life without it isn't so bad; in fact, it's pretty good. I only get to spend half my working life in the studio, but that time is much freer to do what I want.
I get to make the pots I really want to make, in the ways I want to make them. I can slow down when I need to, and can take more chances while worrying less about their outcome."

I think there ARE two different words out there: the professional potters and people who just do it because they cannot live without it.
Which world do you belong to?


Both. But I identify more with the latter. I had another full-time occupation for many years, spending all my free time with pottery. I was able to develop my work my own way, without any financial pressure. In hindsight, this was incredibly valuable. A luxury. I've met plenty of artists who don't have that freedom. In recent years my pottery business has been providing me with a livable income. So now I am in that world too. I am grateful for every day that I get to do this. I dreamed about it for many years, but now (again with hindsight) I would be just fine to still work another job. I've met many artists on the art festival circuit who do this. It's still a good life. So if my pottery stops providing a good income (or if I stop enjoying it as much), no problem I will get another job. It doesn't matter. I think this is one reason why my business works, because I'm not just trying to "make a buck."

I hope we don't divide into an us against them mentality, where professionals and non-professionals think they are superior, just because they don't understand each other. Potters are potters.

Mea
Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
http://www.goodelephant.com

#7 Claypple

Claypple

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 261 posts
  • LocationReno, NV

Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:27 AM

[quote name='GEP' date='08 May 2013 - 08:00 AM' timestamp='1368025225' post='34340']
[quote name='Claypple' date='08 May 2013 - 01:24 AM' timestamp='1367990642' post='34324']
I hope we don't divide into an us against them mentality, where professionals and non-professionals think they are superior, just because they don't understand each other. Potters are potters.

Mea
[/quote]

Well, I kind of assumed that the professionals are WAY better than the hobbyists in the knowledge they have, products they made.
That is why they are so good and generous in answering our stupid questions.
I was not asking who is the better than others. I was asking of "what choices do we make and why?"

E.g., if I were a professional potter, I would have more time to work in the studio, and I would progress much faster than i am doing now.

#8 Chris Campbell

Chris Campbell

    clay stained since 1988

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,055 posts
  • LocationRaleigh, NC

Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:33 AM

I often speak to students/new potters on the business aspects of pottery and it is interesting to note that even at this point they break down into two categories by the simple virtue of a question. One group asks ... "Can I make a living making my pottery?" ... and the other asks "How can I make a living from my pottery?"
Their odds of success are at the root of these questions and their eventual success has less to do with what they make than what they are willing to do to succeed. There is no automatic success button for the full time, or artistic or extremely talented. But you can make a living, you can build a good life by doing whatever you need to do, not letting others judge your efforts or point out your failures or try to box you into their categories.

Chris Campbell
Contemporary Fine Colored Porcelain
www.ccpottery.com

TRY ...   FAIL ...  LEARN ...  REPEAT


#9 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:45 AM

Offcenter, that is unfair to bring the question of art/no art to this topic.


No it isn't. It is a a direct reply to your post that is on topic. If you want to limit replies to your "I think there ARE two different words out there: the professional potters and people who just do it because they cannot live without it." then my response is that, that statement strikes me as naive.

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#10 Claypple

Claypple

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 261 posts
  • LocationReno, NV

Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:51 AM

Relax Jim.

#11 GEP

GEP

    Moderator / full time potter ^6 stoneware

  • Moderators
  • 793 posts
  • LocationSilver Spring, MD

Posted 08 May 2013 - 11:15 AM

[quote name='Claypple' date='08 May 2013 - 11:27 AM' timestamp='1368026820' post='34341']
[quote name='GEP' date='08 May 2013 - 08:00 AM' timestamp='1368025225' post='34340']
[quote name='Claypple' date='08 May 2013 - 01:24 AM' timestamp='1367990642' post='34324']
I hope we don't divide into an us against them mentality, where professionals and non-professionals think they are superior, just because they don't understand each other. Potters are potters.

Mea
[/quote]

Well, I kind of assumed that the professionals are WAY better than the hobbyists in the knowledge they have, products they made.
That is why they are so good and generous in answering our stupid questions.
I was not asking who is the better than others. I was asking of "what choices do we make and why?"

E.g., if I were a professional potter, I would have more time to work in the studio, and I would progress much faster than i am doing now.
[/quote]

The point when I began progressing in terms of skill level was not when I decided to try selling, it was when I left the community center studio and made my own studio at home. Not only did I have daily access to it, but just having your own space, to spread out, make a mess, think for yourself, etc., makes a huge difference. This was long before I ever considered making a living at it. Selling was a side-thought, meant only to address the "what do I do with all these pots?" question. After a while, I was coming home from art festivals with a decent paycheck in my pocket. And so on. This took me eight years of slow and steady progress before I quit my other job.

Mea
Mea Rhee
Good Elephant Pottery
http://www.goodelephant.com

#12 jrgpots

jrgpots

    The hands can express the soul

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 442 posts
  • LocationHurricane, Utah

Posted 08 May 2013 - 01:10 PM


I keep thinking of an article in Ceramic Monthly of March 2013 written about Scott Cooper.
He had a dream of being a full-time potter and finally fulfilled it. Unfortunately, the things didn't go as planned, the income was unsteady,
and 18 months later he made the choice to reverse his dream and return back to his previous occupation.

This is what he writes about life after he killed his dream:
"Life without it isn't so bad; in fact, it's pretty good. I only get to spend half my working life in the studio, but that time is much freer to do what I want.
I get to make the pots I really want to make, in the ways I want to make them. I can slow down when I need to, and can take more chances while worrying less about their outcome."

I think there ARE two different words out there: the professional potters and people who just do it because they cannot live without it.
Which world do you belong to?


I think there are two main kinds of potters: Production and Art. (I don't consider hobby potters to be potters so, I'm completely leaving out people who've taken a couple of pottery classes and now inflict their bunny rabbit mugs on relatives as Christmas and ask on this forum what temperatures the little dots on the kiln dials represent or spend 1000 hours carving grapes and fairies on already hideous vases so their son can declare here that it is the world's greatest pottery.) As I've said here before, I don't see the difference between pure production pottery and working in a factory except that in the factory you get more time off and better benefits. It may sound a bit pretentious to call the other main class of potter an Art Potter but that's what I'm calling it because that potter approaches his/her studio the same way a painter or sculptor approaches his/hers. Not at all interested in producing dishes or bragging about having gone through a ton of clay, they go to the studio to express themselves in clay.

How you pay for that time in the studio doesn't matter. Some use their retirement savings and benefits, others have a spouse who provides most of the income, many teach, and some of us do some production pottery to support our REAL pottery.

Jim



I am new member and still struggle with the knobs. I struggle to center, and I ask silly questions. I am a hobbyist when it comes to pottery. I enjoy listening to all the different personalities on this forum. Many are very kind to the newbies. Jim, you have commented on a couple of my posts. I greatly appreciate your honesty and I smile as you make referrences to other threads within the forum.

I am a physician when it comes to profession. Yet I can understand in part where you might be coming from. I started off my practice in a group setting not worrying much about accounts receivable, then "went solo" for a few years. I understand the difference between "How many patients do I have to see to make a business?" and "How can I help the people I see?" Private business pressures are intense and can easily drive the pleasure from the job whether that job is fixing people, creating art, or making pots and mugs. After a few years in solo practice I closed my doors and went to Texas A&M University to teach medicine for about 10 years. Now I am employed as an InstaCare doctor by a large hospital system by Zion National Park where I plan to retire.

With this being said, I'm hooked on pottery and use it as my escape. A friend once told me that if you work in what you like, you'll always like your work. I have found that if you work at what you love, you run the risk of losing that "love" in the day to day activity of work. As i read your posts, I see the excitement, the love, the passion for what you do.

Thank you... You help me see I'm not that different than others in an entirely unrelated field who wonder about..... "Two differnt worlds out there."

Jed

#13 Bob in SF

Bob in SF

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 08 May 2013 - 02:59 PM

Greetings to all - this is my first post - thought provoking article about Scott Cooper, and equally thought provoking thread.
And I appreciate Dr. Jed's post.
As a self-employed academically inclined solo practice (hand) surgeon with 20 years of ongoing self-employment and 30+ years of teaching young surgeons, I also have "legs" firmly planted in art and music and enjoy all 3.
I see a pendulum in constant swing between artistic uniqueness and scientific reproducibility - commercial pleasures and frustrations at both poles and plenty of territory in between them.
Maybe I'm too old to compartmentalize very well, but I see all reimbursed and unreimbursed arts and crafts and sciences as creative rehearsal spaces that inform each other and keep the pendulum in swing.
Warm regards to all members - glad to have found this forum.

- Bob
(cracked my Eb clarinet bell, threw another just in time for the gig - urgently necessary functional pottery):
Posted Image

#14 trina

trina

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 437 posts

Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:03 PM

Greetings to all - this is my first post - thought provoking article about Scott Cooper, and equally thought provoking thread.
And I appreciate Dr. Jed's post.
As a self-employed academically inclined solo practice (hand) surgeon with 20 years of ongoing self-employment and 30+ years of teaching young surgeons, I also have "legs" firmly planted in art and music and enjoy all 3.
I see a pendulum in constant swing between artistic uniqueness and scientific reproducibility - commercial pleasures and frustrations at both poles and plenty of territory in between them.
Maybe I'm too old to compartmentalize very well, but I see all reimbursed and unreimbursed arts and crafts and sciences as creative rehearsal spaces that inform each other and keep the pendulum in swing.
Warm regards to all members - glad to have found this forum.

- Bob
(cracked my Eb clarinet bell, threw another just in time for the gig - urgently necessary functional pottery):
Posted Image


urgently necessary functional pottery... I love the sound of that! T

#15 Bob in SF

Bob in SF

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 4 posts

Posted 08 May 2013 - 03:09 PM

Thanks, Trina!

#16 Mark C.

Mark C.

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 2,580 posts
  • LocationNear Arcata Ca-redwood rain forest

Posted 08 May 2013 - 05:58 PM

I think there are more than just two kinds of potters

I come from the professional side as far as your definition.

I do always have more than 10k too in stock at any giventime

I did not start with a plan it’s just happened

If you want to make a good living in the functional ceramic world that’s what it takes. I read that article in CM and for me it seemed he did not have what its takes drive wise to me. I never had a choice clay just took over my life without much thought.

I agree with Jim on the art side as well as that what’s the most fun for me but its takes production to support that free time art work like salt or wood fired wares for fun.

My circle of potter friends is all making a living at this without wife’s job (some are couples working together as potters) or trust funds. It takes 150% effort and also lots of years to perfect. It’s not for most and it’s harder than you think.

For me its still fun working in the studio every day. I have many other interests as well and pursue them with equal enthusiasm.

I do not pay attention to how many hours I work or how manypots get done as long as the the clay flows and gets fired every week that’s al lthat matters. You need to have markets established and this takes time. If you consider clay Work that I suggest another profession-maybe medicine as its faster to get started-only 10 or so years to get the practice and another 5-10 to get out of debt.

I will not retire only slow done as clay is important to me and I want to have a hand in it till the end. I will not do be able to drive it to distant states as I do now forever but will keep my local markets going as I slow down. I have cut 6 shows out now in the past few years. Its best to have a diversified income stream-wholesale,retail and maybe some consignment.This has worked well for me.

Mark Cortright
Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com

#17 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 08 May 2013 - 07:51 PM



I keep thinking of an article in Ceramic Monthly of March 2013 written about Scott Cooper.
He had a dream of being a full-time potter and finally fulfilled it. Unfortunately, the things didn't go as planned, the income was unsteady,
and 18 months later he made the choice to reverse his dream and return back to his previous occupation.

This is what he writes about life after he killed his dream:
"Life without it isn't so bad; in fact, it's pretty good. I only get to spend half my working life in the studio, but that time is much freer to do what I want.
I get to make the pots I really want to make, in the ways I want to make them. I can slow down when I need to, and can take more chances while worrying less about their outcome."

I think there ARE two different words out there: the professional potters and people who just do it because they cannot live without it.
Which world do you belong to?


I think there are two main kinds of potters: Production and Art. (I don't consider hobby potters to be potters so, I'm completely leaving out people who've taken a couple of pottery classes and now inflict their bunny rabbit mugs on relatives as Christmas and ask on this forum what temperatures the little dots on the kiln dials represent or spend 1000 hours carving grapes and fairies on already hideous vases so their son can declare here that it is the world's greatest pottery.) As I've said here before, I don't see the difference between pure production pottery and working in a factory except that in the factory you get more time off and better benefits. It may sound a bit pretentious to call the other main class of potter an Art Potter but that's what I'm calling it because that potter approaches his/her studio the same way a painter or sculptor approaches his/hers. Not at all interested in producing dishes or bragging about having gone through a ton of clay, they go to the studio to express themselves in clay.

How you pay for that time in the studio doesn't matter. Some use their retirement savings and benefits, others have a spouse who provides most of the income, many teach, and some of us do some production pottery to support our REAL pottery.

Jim



I am new member and still struggle with the knobs. I struggle to center, and I ask silly questions. I am a hobbyist when it comes to pottery. I enjoy listening to all the different personalities on this forum. Many are very kind to the newbies. Jim, you have commented on a couple of my posts. I greatly appreciate your honesty and I smile as you make referrences to other threads within the forum.

I am a physician when it comes to profession. Yet I can understand in part where you might be coming from. I started off my practice in a group setting not worrying much about accounts receivable, then "went solo" for a few years. I understand the difference between "How many patients do I have to see to make a business?" and "How can I help the people I see?" Private business pressures are intense and can easily drive the pleasure from the job whether that job is fixing people, creating art, or making pots and mugs. After a few years in solo practice I closed my doors and went to Texas A&M University to teach medicine for about 10 years. Now I am employed as an InstaCare doctor by a large hospital system by Zion National Park where I plan to retire.

With this being said, I'm hooked on pottery and use it as my escape. A friend once told me that if you work in what you like, you'll always like your work. I have found that if you work at what you love, you run the risk of losing that "love" in the day to day activity of work. As i read your posts, I see the excitement, the love, the passion for what you do.

Thank you... You help me see I'm not that different than others in an entirely unrelated field who wonder about..... "Two differnt worlds out there."

Jed


Jed, thanks for the insightful post. By hobbyist I mean someone not serious about the art of pottery. Being a beginner doesn't make anyone a hobbyist. I especially like "I have found that if you work at what you love, you run the risk of losing that "love" in the day to day activity of work." I've really never thought of it like that but you're absolutely right. BTW, lucky you, retiring at Zion National Park. I never got there when I used to live out west and traveled there a lot, but always wanted to go to Zion to see the fossils. Wasn't it you in another thread mentioning a constant wind of some sort?

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#18 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 08 May 2013 - 07:56 PM

Greetings to all - this is my first post - thought provoking article about Scott Cooper, and equally thought provoking thread.
And I appreciate Dr. Jed's post.
As a self-employed academically inclined solo practice (hand) surgeon with 20 years of ongoing self-employment and 30+ years of teaching young surgeons, I also have "legs" firmly planted in art and music and enjoy all 3.
I see a pendulum in constant swing between artistic uniqueness and scientific reproducibility - commercial pleasures and frustrations at both poles and plenty of territory in between them.
Maybe I'm too old to compartmentalize very well, but I see all reimbursed and unreimbursed arts and crafts and sciences as creative rehearsal spaces that inform each other and keep the pendulum in swing.
Warm regards to all members - glad to have found this forum.

- Bob
(cracked my Eb clarinet bell, threw another just in time for the gig - urgently necessary functional pottery):
Posted Image

Wow! That's some nice "urgently necessary functional pottery"!

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.

#19 Benzine

Benzine

    Socratic Potter

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,428 posts
  • LocationThe Hawkeye State

Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:44 PM

" or spend 1000 hours carving grapes and fairies on already hideous vases so their son can declare here that it is the world's greatest pottery."


That thread, really rubbed you the wrong way, didn't it?
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#20 OffCenter

OffCenter

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,372 posts

Posted 08 May 2013 - 10:59 PM

" or spend 1000 hours carving grapes and fairies on already hideous vases so their son can declare here that it is the world's greatest pottery."


That thread, really rubbed you the wrong way, didn't it?


You picked up on that, did you?

Jim
E pur si muove.

"But it does move," said Galileo under his breath.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users