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TJR

What Do You Call Yourself? Artist,potter,ceramist,sculptor,hobbyist,wanna Be?

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Mike

I have problems with calling myself Chris ... People do not know what gender its for and it seemed to matter to some. I remember one man in particular sounded very angry when he asked for Chris thinking I would go fetch my husband. Almost like he thought I had tricked him.

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If you are in it to sell, you've got to cover your bases with a large variety of pots in different colours ,sizes and price range. People have to also see the direct function, or they won't buy.

TJR.

I got the variety of colors, sizes and price ranges. I'm not sure what 'direct function' is i suppose...a bowl...what is its direct function...i make lots of bowls...the function is to hold things...but what is it direct function? i get lots of compliments on the variety of shapes, the lovely glazes, and how lite they are...but the shopper walks away.

 

My well selling competition glazes in blue and speckled off white mostly. They told me they rarely sell a larger sized item. From a look at the booth they have a lot of small platters mostly in the $20-25 range, they have just started with coffee mugs and soup mugs and they say they are selling well. (I so hate mugs, i suppose that makes me a weird potter).

 

A vetern artists that has been doing shows for over 30 years has given my booth a look and can't figure it out. He says good work, good prices, nice display, matter of fact he liked my stuff so much he is now taking classes with me cause he always wanted to try clay.

 

So lately i've been calling myself a confused potter lol.

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A direct function to me is that it hold a specific thing. I had a guy about to walk away from buying some small teabowls until I mentioned drinking wine from them. A bowl could contain too many things to even think about buying it but a cereal bowl is simple. The customer knows that cereal goes in the cereal bowl.  B)

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Mike

 

I was tempted to answer with "Ann",but I thought someone would beat me to the sarcasm. As far as ceramics, I don't call myself anything, don't do enough to have a title.

 

In truth, I wasn't trying to be sarcastic... I have just given up on titles. At Potter's Fire we purposely assign weird titles to people like "Clay Boss", "Customer Experience Tsar", and "Chief Everything Officer". It's our way of saying, "Don't take yourself too seriously..." I may promote one of my folks to "Chief Cat Herder", cause getting the studio team to turn in their time sheets is like herding cats. I knew a lady who had the title "Dot Connector", loved that one!

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I had a post up in reply to Mike's that said "I like the ring of 'Mike,' I think I'll call myself that too."  

 

I thought the better of it and deleted it, lest it be seen as too troll-like, but my intent was to illustrate the insufficiency of names and whimsical titles as titles--that is to say, the position of "I've given up on titles."    

 

1) Names aren't titles

 

2) In order for titles to be useful in any kind of business setting, they must conform to understood norms of business practice.  This has internal and external ramifications.  Clearly defined boundaries and responsibilities are what make a business a productive, efficient, and comfortable place to work.  While "dot connector" and "Chief Everything Officer" are cute, fun, and flattering, they blur the lines of responsibility and the chain of command to a great extent.  "Chief everything officer," for example, could be a flattering title for a highly productive secretary, or a very intimidating title for the proper head in command.  "Clay boss" could be personnel in charge of materials purchases, or whoever else.  And though I don't want to get too heavy handed with things, whimsical titles can backfire if ever there should be a legal dispute between employee and employer.  Strip the goodwill away from a situation and "chief everything officer," becomes a problematic title within the context of such a dispute--especially if the work setting's informal and things like hard and fast job descriptions aren't a part of the picture.  Something to think about.

 

The external ramifications are that such titles have effects on who you do business with and how.  Evelyne's example of "potters" never getting into galleries is a very real and very difficult hurdle to overcome.  Titles have a clear effect on your bottom line.  The price point at galleries and craft fairs is very different, and sometimes with no difference in quality and artistic merit.  It's simply a matter of how you've marketed yourself.

 

I'm the kind of person who shies away from titles myself, but as I become more interested in self promotion and marketing of my work, I've begun to realize that titles have real and important consequences for the marketing of my work.  I've also realized that going the anti-title or "I'm just me" route comes across as self-indulgent and arrogant to gallery owners and large scale buyers.  Those kinds of people aren't going to waste time trying to figure out if you're a serious artist/potter or if you're just a hobbyist--they expect a certain kind of behaviour when you approach them, and if you don't fit that mold, well, you're not getting in their gallery.

 

I hope this doesn't come across as heavy handed or accusatory, it's based off my own life experience in the art world as well as the writing world.  I hope it's of some worth to some of you.

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I had a friend from the UK call me "practical" once. I just about shot my drink out of my nose, and told her that was the first time anyone had ever paired me and practical in the same line!

She told me it meant I had a lot of domestic skills that are considered highly useful, and that if you are practical, you do a lot of things with your hands.

 

A lot of domestic skills huh!!! What about your domestic pottery you throw so beautifully!!!!!!!! You artist you! Lucky you were on teh mood to giggle, or did she just want to opt out of her share of domestics as she was too artistic?? :D:D:D CYnic here , think the hot weather cooked my brain.She was actually admiring the fact that I had canned peaches, jam and tomatoes that fall, and I'm able to sew and knit and have done so to save my household money. (okay, knitting has never saved me, or anyone, money. But I am more comfortable in winter because of the skill.) She said it rather in awe, sort of like "you do all of that AND make pots?!?

 

 

And Tyler, it's an excellent point about names and titles both holding a certain power. I'm taking a marketing course, and careful and accurate use of language is being taught this week. Effective communication is important.

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I had a friend from the UK call me "practical" once. I just about shot my drink out of my nose, and told her that was the first time anyone had ever paired me and practical in the same line!

She told me it meant I had a lot of domestic skills that are considered highly useful, and that if you are practical, you do a lot of things with your hands.

A lot of domestic skills huh!!! What about your domestic pottery you throw so beautifully!!!!!!!! You artist you! Lucky you were on teh mood to giggle, or did she just want to opt out of her share of domestics as she was too artistic?? :D:D:D CYnic here , think the hot weather cooked my brain.
She was actually admiring the fact that I had canned peaches, jam and tomatoes that fall, and I'm able to sew and knit and have done so to save my household money. (okay, knitting has never saved me, or anyone, money. But I am more comfortable in winter because of the skill.) She said it rather in awe, sort of like "you do all of that AND make pots?!?

 

 

And Tyler, it's an excellent point about names and titles both holding a certain power. I'm taking a marketing course, and careful and accurate use of language is being taught this week. Effective communication is important.

 

Well, have you been watching me??? A canner, baker, killer of chooks to eat , knitter , sewer, farmer, well just a woman really!!  Maybe that's debatable at my age...Don't come up to your level of pot making. Survived a winter in Lethbridge once, does that count??? Yes knitting saves money, spin you r own wool between midnight and the next day and you have to kill the sweaters because they last so long, or put them in a hot water washing cycle and  use them as tote bags!!

A name for all this??

Busy.. give the jobs to the busy person, they'll get done.

I aspire to be a full time potter... but have not ,another year goes by, learned the no word yet.

Not bored, Babs

Note, meant to add housework to the list but that's not practical...

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I second everything Tyler said. It's well said and so true. I thought the "trying to get into galleries" is a Swiss problem, but it seems you in the States have the same problem?!

Marketing and the right language is a must. That includes of course that you show them how you are seeing yourself. As Tyler said: Potters tend to go to markets, Ceramists to Galleries. And the pieces can (can!) be the same....

I don't like it either, but unfortunately that's the name of the game.

 

Evelyne

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Nor sure who I am but I am having fun at it.  Taught art for 32 years now just working in my studio and learning more and more everyday.  My business card says ceramic artist. I sell enough to pay for my clay needs and have a little fun money too. I thank God for giving me the talent, time and the opportunity to play in the mud!  

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My business card says "potter, etc."

The word ceramics makes me think of slip-molded teddy bear planters; I've never identified myself as an artist, though I know my work often qualifies as art.

Really, I'm a competent craftsperson and domestic producer of many many different things, so I could call myself countless work-related things. I usually don't, though.

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Potter by day- ceramic artist by night.

 

Maybe society is trying to force us to pick the difference (for ourselves) between those who make production housewares vs those who sculpt in clay, work abstract with surface, etc?  Here is a question, after you have made the same form with the same glaze for the 500th time that quarter, are you still an artist?  I think that person would have the skill to make art, but are they making art? It's a tough question.  When I make my functional pieces (bread and butter work) I don't consider it art, even though my artistic juices flow when I make it.  But when I sculpt on a pot for 2  days, I would be bothered if somebody didn't see the "art" in it.  

 

I think society wants us to pick a side and tell them what type of clay worker we are (because I don't think all of us want to be both) . If we say "ceramist" in the USA we are looked at as dental technicians.   

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I call myself an artist... Unless I am talking to a TRUE ARTIST. A true artist is someone who only creates that which speaks to their artistic soul and would never dein to lower themselves to actually creating something because it SELLS.. shudder the horror of selling my art my soul never I say NEVER!

 

To them say I am a commercial artist. If it doesn't sell I'm not going to make it I gave up being a dilettante artist over 20 years ago. As a commercial artist I am a lower being in their lofty realm but I am a lower being walking away with the biggest check and I can live with that.

 

Terry

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When I introduce myself as a potter they nod and smile a little and go ohhhhhh or ahhhh. When I tell someone I'm a ceramic artist their face seems to go blank and they stare like they're processing the information. Some will say okkkkkk but I don't think they understand what it means.

 

Paul

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.......clay lunatic!       Must be sometimes to stay in this game!

 

Otherwise like Rebekah  ''When I make my functional pieces (bread and butter work) I don't consider it art, even though my artistic juices flow when I make it.  But when I sculpt on a pot for 2  days, I would be bothered if somebody didn't see the "art" in it.  

 

Irene

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I have to laugh -- I was told very emphatically by a person that I am NOT a potter because I don't use a wheel.  She said I would have to call myself a clay artist because I hand build with slabs.   But I prefer to use commercial glazes, so does that make me a hobbyist?  Such connotations. 

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I have to laugh -- I was told very emphatically by a person that I am NOT a potter because I don't use a wheel.  She said I would have to call myself a clay artist because I hand build with slabs.   But I prefer to use commercial glazes, so does that make me a hobbyist?  Such connotations. 

People who make pots on the wheel should be called "wheelers", and people who hand build should be called slabbers or coilers or pinchers.

I high fire in a gas kiln. I am a reducer. What about you?

TJR

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"Wheelers, slabbers, coilers and pinchers" sound like they could be playing positions for an Australian rugby team. Being an ignorant American with regards to Australia or rugby or even knowing if they play rugby in Australia I meant no offense. It was just a silly thought. I'm more of pottery wheeler and Inline skater which also involves wheels but never have done them simultaneously. I also have stabbed, coiled and pinched but not in public due to strict NYC laws about such behavior. And as for reduction, I could lose a few pounds.

 

Paul.

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Amateur Potter - or maybe a Hobby Potter. I don't like calling what I make Art, so I don't call myself an artist. Functional Potter, maybe? Ceramic Artist makes it sound like I know something about ceramics, or art, and I don't really think I qualify for that. (I am not saying that there isn't art, I am just saying I don't like to call what I make art.)

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