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Is it too late to start learning ceramics for me?

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Hello everyone,

 I'm recently feeling very passionate about ceramics both as a medium of art and as a path of business. I used to do painting. I actually studied painting (BA)  at university  and Theory of Art (MA).  However, being away from studio art for about 10 years ( just being into graphic design for living at a junior level), I'm considering to get back on the track. Running my own studio and creating  art is becoming my dream once again, at the age of 34.

Do you see any chance that I can improve in this field? Is it too late  for me to begin from the zero ? How long does it take to learn the adequate techniques?  I really appreciate any advice.

Thanks in advance

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From someone who is near double your age, it’s never too late to learn in my view and certainly never too late to build on what you have learned. Sort of a viewpoint that if I am not learning something new daily and not teaching those after me what I have learned then I am simply not moving.

I would say no, it’s never too late, and no there is likely no harm in jumping back in and learning at any pace that fits your life. It sounds like you have acquired business experience. Clay takes practice and folks generally learn at their level of interest and to a lessor degree available time. Generally a few years of clay and one definitely becomes reasonably able and proficient............depending on their effort of course.

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It's never too late. 

Something to keep in mind though....

I've had this ideaquation in my head for sometime, and it's applicable everywhere.

It says..

Say you have one month to make as much money as possible. You can start making $10 an hour from the beginning ($1600), or spend 2 weeks learning how to make $40 an hour. ($3200)

This is applicable to making tools, finding the right clay, firing a kiln etc etc etc...

But in your case, it's about how long it takes to learn the techniques. I just realized how poisoness "adequate" is to this ideaquation. "Adequate" is jumping on $10 an hour.

So my initial thought was, everyone is different in the way they take in information. I believe the more you know how you learn the faster you'll learn anything. Knowing who you learn from best helps as well.

So my advice would be to first spend some time learning learning, and avoiding things that allow you to become complacent. Like the excitement of your first adequate sale.

I'm 4..hell I forgot! 41, with 4 kids and turned to Pottery 3 years ago, LLC'd up 2 years ago, and will launch my website in 2weeks...ish.

What I've sold is more than what I've destroyed, so that's a plus, but I won't know if I can make enough to sustain my "not need for much" lifestyle for a while .....but....

I've never been happier! That's legit! Nothing else matters!



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Cathi Jefferson, who was one of my pottery heroes in school told me she didn’t start full time until she was 46. (She had earlier education and stuff). She said this at a workshop I took when I was restarting pottery after a took a ten year break after my BFA in ceramics too. I was 36 and hadn’t found out I had ADD (inattentive type, no H). At the time, I felt like it was a message from the universe. 

You are not too old, and you will find that your experience to this point will help move you along the past faster than might have been when you were in your 20s. Give yourself somewhere between 2-5 years depending on your comfort levels, time commitment, skill set,community, etc. Use that time to and learn and practice aaaaaaallll the things. Research  how to structure and run a creative, product based business, research how you want to structure your income streams, develop all your clay and glazing and firing skills, build up your studio, practice your social media and email marketing skills. And start a mailing list. Learn about proper work pricing so that you’re profitable if you’re selling wholesale or consignment. Find some community. Here is good, but more is better. There’s lots of things to figure out, but it’s a fun ride. 

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Ha...when I opened this post, I expected you to say you are in your 80s. :)  You're never too old. I found clay 5 yrs ago, in my late 50s. You will grow older regardless of whether or not you choose pottery, or any other craft. At age 34 you might think that you are "older," but you're still very young. 

Do expect putting in a significant amount of time, but go for it and have fun, fun, fun!


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You are plenty young to start but plan on taking time to get traction .Lets say you are young enought to make 1,000 mistakes and in ceramics thats just a good start.

I started at 18 in high school. full time in 1976. I;m having the best (and worse xmas season yet) best in sales worst in stress as its selling almost as fast as I can produce it.

I'm just less than double your age at least for another 4 months.

Edited by Mark C.
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On 12/7/2020 at 6:19 AM, Mah-Tab said:

being away from studio art for about 10 years

I did not even begin my BFA in ceramics until I was your age now, and I almost immediately took a 30+ year detour into a totally unrelated career (direct services & program design for addiction treatment).  After I retired (I am now 73) I used my funds to put together a small home ceramics studio. An unexpected obstacle turned out to be modest TBI that messess with cognition retention & physical movements--so there had to be some significant adaptability & work-arounds.  Nevertheless, five years into it and my retail output is now --as Johnny said--paying for my habit! I don't need  significant income, and am not looking to build a serious business...but what I see is that if I wanted to, I could. It's not about age-it's about learning (or relearning), practice, discipline, vision (repeatedly and actively affirming it), and a willingness to  get back up on the horse after you fall off or after it throws you off. 

Edited by LeeU
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