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Chantay

Told To Get A "real" Job

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I love the snow, but my studio,which is in an old service station,does not function too well at 25 deg f. So we just settle in and wait till the roads clear, feed the birds and put small warm coats on the squirrels and possums that come by for a visit.

The roads are clear today so back to the shop.

Wyndham

Made me smile. How do you catch the squirrels to put little coats on them?

T.

 

Make them and they will come,smart they are.

Wyndham

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Mmmm, yes, the 'real' job..........

 

Wanted to go to art school since I was 17, had immigrant parents and told to get a REAL job, ended up working for our federal public service in Taxation, Defence and Social Security....you can just imagine the 'joy' this dry administrative work bought me.......

 

40 years old, one child, a dead marriage and a well deserved mid-life crises saw me walk out of a very secure job and into art school......... art degrees fed my mind and engaged a deep excitement in the joys and frustrations of creating my own visual statements in the world..................yes, much, much poorer but, without lie, each day in my studio energises me more than my well paid job did.............

 

My own caution encourages my son to pursue an engineering degree but his acting classes each week are absolutely essential, they bring him an animated joy that no amount of 'real' work will provide.......

 

a bit esoteric maybe but is a REAL job only measured in money?    ....or might it be in the engagement and excitement at what we do?  If a REAL job is measured by happiness and not money then I AM doing it!

 

Financial advisors are like take-out meals.........food poisoning once, never go back...........

 

Irene

 

P.S. Had an intereseting conversation with a potter of  +20 years 3 days ago who talked about becoming 'real' artist!!!  (see painter!)

 

We have spaces in a multi-disciplined art studio complex and our conversation was around the perceived value of ceramic works in comparison to painting works in our society ..... for a regular potter 1 week + equipment/materials + expenses yeilds a pot of $25-150 (??) and for a painter/painting $650-$10,000 !!!!

 

Maybe the 'big guns' ...Min, Mark C, John, Marcia, Chris, et al....might be able to talk us through that perception!

Babs and ChenowethArts like this

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a bit esoteric maybe but is a REAL job only measured in money?    ....or might it be in the engagement and excitement at what we do?  If a REAL job is measured by happiness and not money then I AM doing it!

 

Oh, not esoteric at all, Mudslinger.  I am not kidding myself to think that I will ever be wealthy (monetarily) by making things from clay, but the joy I receive personally and the joy that I see in people who make a connection to me through a piece that I have made is priceless (no offense MasterCard).  I would like to dream that some of this joy means that I am actually doing something worthwhile/creative/appreciated and that there are those who recognize that and are willing to part with some of their monies.  I do ask myself on occasion, "Just who are you making this for?"...and when I can honestly answer that there is something of me in the piece that is worthy of sharing with someone else, I am doing the right thing.

 

-Paul

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"We have spaces in a multi-disciplined art studio complex and our conversation was around the perceived value of ceramic works in comparison to painting works in our society ..... for a regular potter 1 week + equipment/materials + expenses yeilds a pot of $25-150 (??) and for a painter/painting $650-$10,000 !!!!

 

Maybe the 'big guns' ...Min, Mark C, John, Marcia, Chris, et al....might be able to talk us through that perception!"

 

 

Sorry, this is not just perception but reality. In a survey done a few years ago potters were second from the bottom in earnings for all types of Art. The only people we beat it out were the mixed media/crafts people.

 

In my opinion ... And it is only my opinion not a fact ... I think there are several causes of this.

 

One - the myth of the humble potter supplying wares for the community at a price all can afford.

Two - experienced potters stubborn resistance to increasing their prices to create a market for well made pottery.

Three - our lack of arrogance in proclaiming the worth of our wares.

Four - our inability to get around our own mythology to reach the people with money who are more than willing to pay.

 

We are marketing and pricing for the 1960's but unfortunately, living in the next century.

You would never hear a painter or glass blower say they priced their work so everyone could afford it!

JBaymore likes this

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In my opinion ... And it is only my opinion not a fact ... I think there are several causes of this.

 

One - the myth of the humble potter supplying wares for the community at a price all can afford.

Two - experienced potters stubborn resistance to increasing their prices to create a market for well made pottery.

Three - our lack of arrogance in proclaiming the worth of our wares.

Four - our inability to get around our own mythology to reach the people with money who are more than willing to pay.

 

We are marketing and pricing for the 1960's but unfortunately, living in the next century.

You would never hear a painter or glass blower say they priced their work so everyone could afford it!

 

 

Chris has nailed it square on. We are our own worst enemy.

 

"I'm gonna go play in the mud."

 

"I play with clay."

 

"Ceramics; the world's most fascinating hobby."

 

 

Tom Peters, marketing guru, relative to products: "Perception is all there is. There is no reality. There is only perceived reality."

 

 

The misunderstanding of the Mingei Movement in Japan in the US by SO many has done more damage to the contemporary craft of pottery that anything I can think of. Kawaii, Hamada, Leach, et all were NOT Mingei craftspeople.... and they never were. They were highly trained visual artists that knew the high value of their own work. They were INSPIRED by Mingei aesthetics for sure.... but they knew how to charge for their work.

 

The philosophy of "Cheap Pots for Everyman" is certainly a noble concept....... but it tends to keep the whole profession econionically depressed, and is not doing a 'service to the field' when gasoline costs $3.50 a gallon and people cannot live on minimum wage .

 

Many of us often complain of the impacts of cheap imports from China on things. Well......... what about cheap non-imports from right here in the good ole' USA?

 

Compounding this is the fact that the US education system does not spend much time anymore teaching people about making tangible things or the arts. So the general population has litle formal aesthetic or craftsmanship understanding. So the public in general differentiating between the work of a highly skilled artist and that of a newer person learning the art is not there.

 

This is not "politically correct" to say.... but I will anyway:

 

My advice to START to fix this: get pretty darn skilled before you move to selling in the marketplace, and then price your work commensurate to the time and skills it took to get there.

 

best,

 

........................john

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For a full-time working potter, a week's worth of work yields a whole lot more than $25 - $150. I actually just did an exercise for myself, trying to figure out the correct pace of production for me, and landed on $2500 for a week's production. Or more accurately, to make $5000 every two weeks, followed by one week of firing/glazing. So really it's $5000 every three weeks. I betcha Mark C., Wyndham, and others are producing at a higher rate than this.

 

It's not that I don't agree with Chris and John about potters undervaluing themselves. It's a problem. However, working potters make up for the affordable prices with high rates of production and selling. I've also seen the opposite problem ... ceramists making large-scale art pieces and trying to charge $1500 - $5000 per piece, and having zero sales at a show. Or maybe one sale, still a net loss. I think high-end paintings have the same high-risk. At some shows, they will make a killing, and at most shows they will make zero. Whereas a functional potter can make a fairly consistent income at all shows.

 

I would not trade my affordable functional pottery business model for the high-risk $3000 art pieces.

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........ gasoline costs $3.50 a gallon ........

 

best,

 

........................john

 

 

Wait till it's over $2 a litre like it is in the UK.

 

I think some of the "pricing" issues are that pottery creates both functional and art pieces.  Painting tends not to be functional (Sign-writers excepted).  So  when people see mugs in the pound shop, why whould they want to pay more for hand-built, exclusive pieces of (mug) art?

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I think some of the "pricing" issues are that pottery creates both functional and art pieces.  Painting tends not to be functional (Sign-writers excepted).  So  when people see mugs in the pound shop, why whould they want to pay more for hand-built, exclusive pieces of (mug) art?

 

 

A Mercesdes and a Lotus and a Lamborgini are all also "functional".  They also happen to be a 'cut above' the physical craftsmanship and aesthetics of an old (pick your automotiove target here).   They would want to buy them because they are (potentially from the really skilled artist/craftsperson) a 'cut above' the physical craftsmanship and aesthetics of a Walmart 'I heart My Poodle" cylindrical mass produced 1/2" thick mug.

 

But that assumes the awareness that there might be a difference.  And we are back to my comments about aesthetic and craftsmanship training in the education systems today and the new focus on stuff like STEM, rather than STEAM. 

 

The problem is finding the right venues and manner of selling to the higher price points.  And to do so the WORK must be appropriate.  You likely can't sell a Ford for a Lamborgini price ;)  .

 

best,

 

.......................john

 

And yeah......... us Americans are spoiled by gas prices.  But America has essentially no effective mass transit other than in large city centers... so we are quite dependent on the car.  And American is BIG.  When I go somewhere here, it is often the equivelent of going thru England, France, and Germany in Eurpope.  And I'm only changing States.

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And we are back to my comments about aesthetic and craftsmanship training in the education systems today and the new focus on stuff like STEM, rather than STEAM.

 

I started doing some simple blacksmithing of stands for my pots. they sold quick and at three times the price I would have gotten for the pots alone. Not even close to three times the labor was involved. Perception is everything. More STEM...less STEAM

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"I think some of the "pricing" issues are that pottery creates both functional and art pieces. Painting tends not to be functional (Sign-writers excepted). So when people see mugs in the pound shop, why whould they want to pay more for hand-built, exclusive pieces of (mug) art?"

 

For the exact same reason a .65 cent cup of coffee costs $3.50 at Starbucks.

Perception.

If WE don't think a well designed, beautifully balanced, perfectly executed mug is worth more than a beginner's wobbly we are lost.

Yes, a production potter who makes the kind of excellent wares Mea makes can and is making a good living wage everywhere.

But the argument is not the $15 mug versus the $5000 work of art .... It lies in the middle.

Building an appreciation for the craft that allows a customer to justify a $300 platter.

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If WE don't think a well designed, beautifully balanced, perfectly executed mug is worth more than a beginner's wobbly we are lost.

I'm pretty sure the general public... and even collectors don't understand quality in ceramics. They mostly buy what is "in" rather than what is good. People may pay $15-25 for a mug that speaks to them, but they will be very reluctant to  pay $200-$300 dollars for a platter from a relative unknown potter, no matter how well it is executed.

 

Chris, I'd buy yours every time rather than an over priced lump of clay Peter Voulkas has stomped on, but  most would not.

 

So I guess the moral of the story is like the Zen master said, "Just work".

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 In my opinion ... And it is only my opinion not a fact ... I think there are several causes of this.

One - the myth of the humble potter supplying wares for the community at a price all can afford.
Two - experienced potters stubborn resistance to increasing their prices to create a market for well made pottery.
Three - our lack of arrogance in proclaiming the worth of our wares.
Four - our inability to get around our own mythology to reach the people with money who are more than willing to pay.

We are marketing and pricing for the 1960's but unfortunately, living in the next century.
You would never hear a painter or glass blower say they priced their work so everyone could afford it!

 

 

Chris,  strongly agree... have had considerable frustrations with an artist run gallery in an affluent suburb where potters with 30 year long experience will price a beautifully made mug for $8-12!!.....and they have no idea why the 'younger ones' (who do this as work and not a hobby) insist on charging $25-50 for 'just a mug' and tell us 'oh, you can't expect someone to pay that much!!   They are gorgeous people yet trying to change their mind-set is a hard task so I now only stock my least expensive products there.

 

The reason a person makes pottery contributes significantly to their pricing policy as well I've noticed......so many people make their pottery as an aside to their REAL jobs and so don't have the impetus to see the working value of what they do. Others of course work out clearly what their time/materials/energy is worth because their living relies on it.

 

Then it comes down to the intended customer group, who do we make it for....everyone? or 'those customers'?  

Some in the artist run gallery will discount heavily to secure the sale at any price because they want 'everyone' to buy it......which sabotages the rest of us as well as the reputation of the gallery and handmade ceramics as a whole. There's 4 of us who hold our prices steady and make sales anyway to people who are drawn to our work but even that success doesn't change the old mind-sets. So my work now is categorised into different products to suit my different outlets that way I still find relevant markets but don't under-price.

 

........and, to be fair to my painter colleagues at the studio...potters have Chinese imports/cheap department stores and hobby ceramics undermining the worth of our work.....painters too now shriek over the Chinese imports and do-it-yourself  'wall art'  that has developed with the rise of the home improvements and decorating TV shows......masking tape+ string on a big cheap canvas with a roller full of paint that matches your decor this season and can be discarded to the thrift store when replaced by next season's trend!! ...awful stuff

 

 

Irene

 

 

(Mind you, the value of conceptual art quite bewilders me......  plastic cup, car tyre and old navel lint = deeply contemplative social statement: acquired for $20,000 by prestigous gallery............what is that about??!!!)

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