For me, writing is a craft, a process through which I educate myself to ask questions and seek answers that are relevant and make sense. The ceramic world changes rapidly, and keeping up with how the field evolves is always a challenge. Even with such rapid transformations, many aspects of ceramic art have managed to stay relatively the same throughout thousands of years of pottery making.
Here are 15 thoughts to ponder as the 2012 New Year starts (yes, just 15-I am sure I could list many more!). Remember that these opinions are mine, and no animals were harmed in the many years of their making:
- Embrace change in the way you think about your art, your creative methods, and what you actually choose to make. A huge morass of insipid, uninspiring ceramic work already exists out there. Never succumb to mediocrity in your ceramic pursuits.
- Acknowledge that you are part of a remarkable historic tradition of pottery making that has no cultural boundaries. Our shared ceramic history provides a great learning experience.
- Look for new challenges to market and sell what you make. The paradigm has changed. While many opportunities still exist, it is important to stay on top of your game and avoid becoming defeated. Sales are not the only barometer of success; there are many ways to have a career in this business. Always remember how lucky you are to follow your muse and pursue your passion.
- There will always be a perception that others are doing better financially or making better work than you. While there may be some truth to this, it really does not matter. It is the same in every artistic endeavor. What matters is your perception of your work.
- Search for ways to give back and make some small contribution to the field to help others forge their own ceramic careers.
- Remember that you do not have all the answers. While you may have a way that works for you, it is not the only way. Avoid any type of ceramic dogma whatsoever. It indicates a small and insecure mind.
- Learn to keep your ego in check. The easiest way to alienate your friends and colleagues is to run your mouth off about how great you are or how valid your work is. Humility goes a long way in this or any other business.
- Honor and acknowledge your mistakes. We all make them. Mistakes are how we learn and grow as both artists and human beings.
- Avoid being dismissive of others who may not have the opportunities, education or street cred that you have. Innate ceramic prowess, a higher skill level, or a university degree does not make you king or queen of the ceramic kingdom. Again, remember that humility goes a long way.
- Always ask questions. There is no such thing as a stupid question. Well, yes, there is, and that is the stupidity in not asking the question.
- Learn to think critically. Artwork is not made in a vacuum, nor should ceramics be relegated to the realm of cute craft. There is art in fine craft and fine craft in the making of art.
- Read all you can-not only about ceramics, but about anything and everything that interests you.
- Guard your health. Learn and always apply safe studio practices.
- Embrace technology. Avoid Luddite thinking and behavior. Technology will make your ceramic life easier. And by the way, get a website. Remember: no one does slides anymore!
- And finally, keep making good work.