Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Judith B

Finding Your Own Style...easy To Say

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone,

 

I know you all always have some very good advices, and I need help! Yesterday I picked up my fired pieces from the community centre, and I was super happy about them. I loved the textures and colours and thought that yay, I found what I like.

But then this morning, I looked at them again and thought that they look just like any other ceramic piece and that they have no specific style whatsoever. I feel like I have been experimenting a lot of different things but I can't find what I like, what I want to make.
How did you guys do? Did it just happen one day?

I have attached a picture of the pieces I really liked. I feel attracted by textures and stuff but I feel this is all way too basic :(

 

post-64073-0-47870200-1424800887_thumb.jpg

post-64073-0-47870200-1424800887_thumb.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi two different things going on. You are developing a craft and your art style. One can have a fantatasic art style that fails because the craft is not developed . But craft works on its own. The bowls you made don't stand out as individual probably because they are all grouped together in like groupings.also artistic expression actual says something to the artist. There is probably an exhibit somewhere in the world with pretty much your placement and style of pots, even the same colors with a tag that reads something like : neighbors, or antiquity.

I would give a lot for your degree of profiscency , I ALWAYS have something to say, now as to how well it stays together...

Notice the little things that you achieved that you like, and keep incorporating those bits into your repertoire . Soon no one else will be able to do that because it is made up of your little bits.

Beautiful pots btw. Jolie

Judith B and michelek like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Assignment:

 

Go online and into the (gasp) library (you know those things called books  ;)  ) and start looking at images.  Then start a "clip book" (digital or physical) of the pieces that you say, "I wish I made that" about.  Amass at least 100 images.

 

Then from that selection of images narrow it down to about 20 images that you REALLY feel strongly about.  Put the rest away.

 

Then (yup....writing) write out the commonalities of traits that you see in the remaining 20 objects.  Use the language of the principles of art and design for this as well as and words that stress feelings.  Write at length.  If initially you can't see connections... look deeper..... they WILL be there.

 

Then spend some time analyzing that set of commonalities you drafted.

 

Next....................... take one of your physical pieces from the photo you posted above... and set it on the table in front of you and next to the papers with the listings you just came up with.  Ask yourself "What could I do to change THIS piece to reflect some of the common characteristics that I listed"?  Write those thoughts down.  Then get a sketch pad and using the piece in front of you as a "model", draw the "new" piece as you now envision it.  Look at that fuirst sketch and revise it to improce on it.  Do that a few times.

 

Then once you have a couple of sketches..... go MAKE that piece you drew in the last sketch.

 

THEN.... (nope not done yet)............... look at the new piece and assess what you feel is working on it, and what could be improved.

 

Make the same exact piece again.... but making ONLY the changes you just articulated.  Everything that you did NOT say should be changed should look like a Xerox copy of the prior piece.

 

Repeat this process on THIS object a number of times.

 

DO this diligently on the first object...and then a few others the same way................ and you'll no longer be asking about how to do this.

 

best,

 

...............................john
,

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah I was thinking I need to go to the library, they have so many books of pottery and ceramics. I think I will go spend a few hours there!
THanks for your help John, I will definitely try to do that!

It is so hard though, when I was in Japan visiting a ceramic museum, I remember thinking that we're not inventing anything, so many things have been done already. So how do we make something that stand out? I like the idea of using small bits and piecing them together!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In addition to the quality advice given above; your personal style cannot be found as one might be directed to Albuquerque, nor is it a static quality that remains constant. One fun way to look at it is in the understanding of cones. A cone is a measure of heat work, not temperature. Personal style is working experience, not just choices in aesthetics. Just as the longer you expose a pot to heat (even on a soak) the cone level will increase, the more pots you make (even in the same form) your personal style will increase. sometimes the repetition can be intensely focused as suggested in John's previous post, sometimes it progresses in an almost unconscious fashion over time and you may not notice until it's pointed out to you.

Either way you cannot finish a pot without heat and you cannot develop your personal style without repetition.

 

Make a thousand of anything and you will develop your own specific vocabulary on that item

Judith B and Roberta12 like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Judith, what a great post.   Seriously.   And great responses.  I too, struggle with personal style, personal voice.  I am going to follow John Baymore's  advice.  But I have also realized that what I make seems to be changing.  While it is not the "thousand" that John Hertzfeld advises, I think that simply making things over and over does help refine that process.  However, I think we all know potters who are making the exact same thing now that they were 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago.   Does that mean they are making lots of pots, but not engaging in the process?  ("What could I do to change THIS piece to reflect some of the common characteristics that I listed"? ) or does it mean they have found their style?  Not sure on that answer. 

 

Roberta

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah my style is totally changing too, hence me being lost ^^. I used to like really precise and perfect pieces with clean designs and colours, because the potter who first taught me ceramics was doing that kind of things. Now I feel more attracted towards imperfect and textured pieces but I find it is much harder to find my own personal style in that kind of work.

I also know that I am still learning and I need to improve my skills in order to open the possibilities of things I can do.
But like you said Roberta, it is such a struggle!

Thank you all for sharing your thought on that, it is so inspiring! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The terms "perfect" and "imperfect" are not specific enough for this kind if personal searching dialog.  You need to DEFINE exactly what you mean by those terms.  That is the kind of introspection and clarification we are talking about.  (Also see threads about "writing an artist's statement".)

 

There is a common phrase that is believed by just about everyone (at least in America) and is basically flawed.  "Practice makes perfect".  Nope..... that kind of approach just reinforces existing patterns of working and muscle memory.  Reflective and directed practice makes perfect.  Just practicing the same mistakes and weaker solutions to a design problem just makes it harder to eventually change them.

 

In some cases the '10,000 objects' (apologies to Malcolm Gladwell) idea could be totally a stagnant and repetitive work situation.  And in some case those 10,000 objects might look to the less astute observer as the same... but subtle changes are happening...and the forms and surfaces are getting stronger and more successful.  And in yet others the changes might be quite evident... but the familial relationships will still be there.  Evolution, not revolution.

 

best,

 

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

LeeU likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It took me years to KIND of find myself in ceramics--rather, in wheel-thrown pottery--because I sucked eggs at throwing. It was just basically a journey of learning to keep a dang form from going kaput and getting it off the wheel more than exploration of form! :D I am NOT a natural potter. Does this stop me from making pottery? Nope. :) I honestly started throwing because I got peeved off at the wheel so bad (we had a few years where we did not speak, due to irreconcilable differences), I sat down and made the turdiest bowl EVER...but it was mine, and I made it, and glazed it hideously. It was used to feed stray cats for a long time. But anyway, now that I am KINDA past the point of just being able to get something off the wheel, I'm slowly starting to experiment with curves and stuff. I am pretty limited in the forms I can make, since my illustration are the big selling point of my work, but it's fun to try and find new grounds to explore. Looking at other artists' work definitely helps a lot.

 

I miss sculpture--it just comes naturally to me. However, people buy my pottery, not my sculptures. They are not really "people friendly" peices, and they are really the meat and potatoes that make me Guinea, but they don't pay the bills. I hate money, I swear...

florence w and Judith B like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we're all adults here.  I don't think a school age exercise is necessary for someone to find their own personal aesthetic.  I'm sorry, but I firmly believe that's true.  

 

If you're over 20, you know what you like, what you think is good, already.  It's in you.  You know what music you like, you know what art you like, and you know where you come from.  It's in you.  You may not have articulated it--you may never need to--making what you want to make is articulation enough for most.  Once you get to the point on the wheel where you can make what's in your head, you'll have found your personal aesthetic naturally.

 

Anthony Bourdain was once asked "Have you learned a lot about cooking on your travels?"  

 

"Oh yeah, totally," he replied.

 

"Do you think you'll use what you've learned in the kitchen?  Incorporating what you've learned in Asia, Africa, and South America into your dishes."

 

He gave a curt "No," before continuing. He said something like: "Look, I'm trained as a French chef, cooking old school dishes.  I'm going to continue to do that, that's what's comfortable, that's where I come from.  Those are my roots.  I've learned a lot about cooking in other countries, it's true, but learning who other people are doesn't change what I already know about myself."

 

A lot of artists, actors, musicians, and poets actively work to remove all influences during their creative periods, saying they find it stifling to their own work.  Some fear subconscious plagiarism.

 

Sometimes it's more about finding the confidence to say or sing what's already on your tongue or draw what you already see on the paper.  The best songwriters make the songs they want to hear, the best movie makers make the movies they want to see.

 

Make the pots you want to use and look at.  Make what makes you feel good.  Make what reflects you and your roots.  That's your personal aesthetic.  

Judith B, Amy Eberhardt, GEP and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But then this morning, I looked at them again and thought that they look just like any other ceramic piece and that they have no specific style whatsoever. I feel like I have been experimenting a lot of different things but I can't find what I like, what I want to make.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A thought.

If 100 potters, you are one, were given the  task to make a ,say, mug using the same weight, same glaze etc. And these mugs were placed on a table, how long would it take to find your own?

Story about an artist placing his pot on a table of an apprentice's ware of hte same design..

John's advice above is great,  it lays out the process  which some do intuitively, bringing it to another part of the brain.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Judith, I think what John said and highlighted in your post and what others have stated also is the key. If you view other potters' work you will find some things that you like and will inspire you to create your own personal style. The confidence will come with experience.

 

- Paul R.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Style comes from a lot of places, images, likes and dislikes, research, and knowledge of the craft. However, for me, style comes from making, lots and lots of making. It is a growth from the first pot you have made, and the pots that you admire, to the pots you want to make, and your journey to find the way to make them. I don't throw loosely, but wish that I could, and I recognize the things that are strong about my own throwing and my forms with the type of control I have over the clay. Slowly I am finding ways of "deconstructing" my symmetry to make the forms more of what I have come to admire. Thing is, I really did not admire loosely thrown pieces back in the day, but rather the tightly controlled throwing that seemed to exhibit a great bit of skill. Nowadays, I know better, and can tell when a piece is asymmetric and well controlled, or when it is asymmetric, and a flop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of the artistic forms I see online don't really look that functional... I seen a mug for example, it was coned in from the base to the midsection , then tapered out to the rim.. It looked really nice but I bet it was a pain to wash it... If you like making functional work, that's something you might want to keep in mind as your looking at pictures...

 

I try not to goof up, but when I do, I try to make the piece work.. I did a mug the other day and it got a big clay bugger on it, so I took my hand and grabbed a pile of sloppy slip and thick clay.. Rubbed it all over the mug then smoothed the lip area off.. fired it with some Albany slip and it looked really good, the glaze broke nice... Happy accident = cool mug...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of artists, actors, musicians, and poets actively work to remove all influences during their creative periods, saying they find it stifling to their own work.

Yeah, I think it's really sad. We can't get rid of years and years of culture and influences.

I also think that maybe I shouldn't even try to find a style, that it doesn't matter that much if what I do is not consistent. I still think that yes, I could use John's advices to improve my work, but does it even make sense to try so hard to have a specific style?

I guess with experience you tend to do the same kind of things over again because you grow confident in doing them, maybe in a few years I'll feel the same  ^^

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Years ago I was discussing my worries about this issue with a potter friend whose talents I really respect ... he simply said " Make what you make until you can't make it any more."

 

You simply cannot be what you are not.

John's exercise is an exploration designed to help you find who you are artistically ... if it suits your nature to do it.

Wandering and trying whatever catches your eye is another .... "Notice what you notice." school of thought.

Copying the masters until you learn how they did it is another way to go.

The only wrong way in my opinion is to sit on your duff and think about it rather than actually doing something.

 

I've reached the " cannot make it any more" point in my work and am ready to jump into the next journey.

JBaymore likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John has distilled a great deal of wisdom and practical advice in his post.  I recently used a somewhat streamlined version of this approach.  I wanted to make some tea bowls for my son as a graduation present.  I know very little about tea, and in fact, my esthetic sympathies do not run in the chanoyu river.  In any case, my understanding is that the yunomi is a sort of informal tea vessel that can be used to drink a lot of different stuff, not just tea.  (Feel free to correct me if I got that wrong, though it doesn't matter for the purposes of developing a yunomi I like.)

 

Anyway.  I found an online collection of yunomi that shows examples from many many potters, and I spent several days immersed in that collection.  Many of my favorite potters did not formally make what would appear to be yunomi; the collector simply found bowls that he liked from each potter, bowls that could be used as tea bowls.  But there were enough there that I could begin to get an idea of what a yunomi should or could be.

 

Then I went to the sketchpad and began to draw shapes.

 

I threw a dozen of these forms, and ended up with a couple I liked. 

 

Rinse and repeat.

 

This is a great thread!  Once you reach the skill level to throw whatever you want, these questions become increasingly important.

florence w likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

" I used to like really precise and perfect pieces with clean designs and colours, because the potter who first taught me ceramics was doing that kind of things."

 

It took me many years to realize that what I thought were my own tastes were really just versions of what I was used to...from parents, friends, teachers.  Finding my  own personal voice has been a long but tremendously satisfying journey, in clay and others aspects of my life.

florence w and Chris Campbell like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I came to pottery with a background in art. This helped me tremendously to focus on the shapes I liked. I keep my pieces fairly simply and like Guinea love to do surface design on my pieces. The desire to create a surface I can paint on means I am not going to do a whole lot of texture over the entire piece.. that said I struggled with my mugs thinking they were too plain, boring bla bla bla. Then one day I tried dipping just the handles in a different colored glaze since the body needed to be in a light color to take the imagery. After that I got to thinking I like the contrasting color now how can I add some additional interest so I added different textures to handles of a bunch of mugs. I love the way they look bone dry and will fire them shortly and I shall have to see if I still like them once I have glazed them in a contrasting color as well.

 

For gathering images of different pots I like, I LOVE the Daily Clay app with its offering of a different style of pottery each day. If I like a piece I hit the add to favorites button. I have been doing this for almost a year now and have a fabulous collection of favorites and scrolling through the thumbnails I can see the forms, textures, colors and styles I am instinctively most attracted to. It's quite interesting now to be able to see the "patterns" of design I prefer developing among the pieces I favorite.

 

I also say go to the library and check out loads of books on pottery. I did this the first year after I started and checked out every book I could find on the subject. A few I found myself checking out again and again and those I bought copies of to keep in my studio. At first I sketched out just about everything I made before I ever touched clay. Then I made maquettes before finally making the actual piece. I don't always do this now as I have a better understanding of what techniques create what shapes but when trying something new I still do, just to work it out in my head first.

 

I think everybody has their own way of following their artistic journey and what works for me might not work for you. All the ideas and suggestions you have been given here are great pick and choose the ones that speak to you and try them out... If they don't do what you need them too set them aside and try another.

 

Terry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, thank you so much everybody for sharing your process, this is so inspiring. I feel that maybe I am asking myself these questions way too early and maybe I should just focus on practicing for now, finding inspiration is books and on internet. Maybe I still need to experiment until I can clearly see what I like.
 

Terry, I totally have a huge collection on pottery images on pinterest or instagram, but I find them misleading as sometimes I like stuff that doesn't correspond to what I would actually like to make. Which is probably very silly of me :D

 

In any case, it is so nice to hear about your stories, and to read that this is not an easy process!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is funny how many things I have thought 'this is my style' till I watched an old pottery video again and saw that I was obviously inspired without knowing it and have just copied what I have seen. I always see my style as a mix of sensory inputs run through my brain circuits.  

Benzine and Judith B like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mel Jacobsen tells a great story that relates to your comment, (and this discussion) High Bridge.

 

Mel apprenticed in Japan.  He worked in a workshop that had a master potter and a few apprentices.  Mel was the resident "gaijin" (foreigner) and an American.  Of course Americans are 'known' for being totally innovative and creative.  So his sensei (teacher) challenged him to make a new form.  Of course this was to be on Mel's own time after he did the work required of the pottery...... which was making senesi's forms.

 

So most every night after working his butt off all day, Mel would sit there and try to come up with something "new and different".  And he would then place that piece he came up with on sensei's work table before he went to bed for the night.

 

Sometime the next day there would be a Japanese book or magazine sitting on Mel's wheel platform opened up to a picture of that form.  He said that went on for a year.

 

best,

 

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

Judith B likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, I remember you telling that story in another thread. Funny enough I was telling that story to another potter in my studio today.

 

I was going to try and quote your other post about only being as original as the obscurity of your sources but I couldn't get the wording right as I remembered it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I am pretty new to pottery, this is the end of my 1st year in pottery, I started back in May 2014. I spent the first 6 months trying to learn to throw a good bowl. While I was doing that, I was constantly looking at other peoples pottery at night. I was constantly searching for something that spoke to me, what is my "style". I searched for months before I finally gave up and said, "bleh, I will just make pots, and glaze pots, and sooner or later my style will emerge from how I change things on a trail by trail basis."

 

Now that my first year is almost up, I think am a little bit closer to knowing what I like out of a pot, but I haven't found my style at all. I know I am still working towards what I want to do, and what I imagine in my head. Each day I spend most of my time reading about methods to doing things, and then going and trying to do those things. I haven't kept a single pot in 2014, except to look at it for a few months sitting on my desk. Everything eventually gets the hammer, unless my wife claims it. Which happens pretty often, I eventually sneak it out and throw it away.

 

I know one thing. I love white glazes, and pots that have raw clay showing somewhere besides the foot. I know I want to work in black clay with white glazes. That is as far as my "style" has came. I am super happy to be that far.  

 

I think John and the others are right, basically make stuff, look at stuff, make more stuff, look at that stuff, note what you like, make more stuff. I can't imagine any other way. 

 

This is great thread, some great advice.

janiebgood likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×