New (Year's) Resolutions

January 29, 2010
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These are difficult and challenging times for artists. We have little control over what stores and galleries purchase from us, or, ultimately, what the end user/consumer will buy. We can tweak our glazes, cogitate on what will be the next hot, best-selling item, continue to apply to sales events, and do the same things we have done in the past. All this is fine, and, if your comfort level is one that has difficulty with change, sally forth.

I would posit that, as ceramic artists, we have the ability and the means to reinvent what we do, how we do it, and shape our careers from the inside. Outside market factors, of course, have a considerable influence on what we do, but a healthy re-evaluation might be in order. Change is difficult. Even thinking about change is hard.

After 15 years as a ceramics manufacturer, I decided to reinvent myself again as a ceramic artist and close my manufacturing company in 2006. I needed to shed equipment, skids of material, a host of “overburden” that was getting in the way of me being an artist. I needed a healthy dose of stimulation. Dealing with the physical elements of a prior career proved to be relatively easy. Working with the mental baggage of no longer being the factory guy proved to be more difficult. But, once I no longer accepted clients’ projects and put the breaks on “thinking large,” my outlook slowly began to change. Thinking smaller still means thinking out of the box, but what emerged was a healthy and more respectful outlook for my work, my career and myself.

My gallery has proved to be a creative outlet for one part of being an artist. Working with other respected ceramic artists and potters has proven to be professionally rewarding and will hopefully, in time, be financially lucrative. Developing new work has been challenging, difficult and emotionally taxing. Change is hard. Even thinking about change is difficult.

What is implicit to my reinvention is how to deal with time. As artists, we have the tools to create our vision. We have the time to push ourselves in whatever directions move us, but we need to manage our time: uninterrupted time, free of diversions, mental clutter and baggage.

I have decided that to manage my time in the studio, I need to be in the studio every day. It may not be a full day, as we all have lives to live, but some time each day is devoted to clay work. And it is not just making things. Making things happens when the path in my head is clear and a direction has been found. In an earlier post, I wrote of deadlines looming in my career. I met them successfully and now have a few more. Deadlines, goals, things to accomplish-call them what you may, but defining what it is that I need to do has helped me manage my time. The end game-the goal of reinventing myself as a ceramic artist-is the biggest reward.

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