This year started off quite slow in the creative sense. I was burned out from too many holiday shows. I was busy cranking out production work and didn't feel like I was being creative. I was creating but it was mindless. On and off January, February and March I accomplished very little in the studio because I set out to experiment. I did not enter many shows this summer. Frankly I am sick of them. Its costly to enter and with the current economy the profits are often not worth the time and energy. Instead I decided I would focus on working through new and old ideas while entering juried shows. Still with this new set of goals I was stuck and frustrated. Oh yes, and very VERY unmotivated.
In an attempt to get unstuck (its not a word and I don't care) I decided to seek out workshops. I stumbled across Strictly Functional being held at the Wayne Center for the Arts in Wooster, Ohio. This was of interest for three reasons: I wanted to be a student again, I could not afford to travel out of state and my work is strictly functional. I can gladly say it was the best money I have spent in a very long time. For the past 2 days I observed three amazing teachers and artists. To say I am inspired and have a hundred new ideas would be a mild understatement. Each artist offered a different perspective on working, teaching and selling their work. I must admit I was pleased to hear that we all agree - craft festivals can suck!
I know it must sound hateful when I say this but I truly do not mean it as such. Let me explain it for the non-artists and non-patrons of festivals. Artists are many things. We are of course first, artists. Second we are sales people. We must sell our work and ourselves. We are businessmen and marketing gurus (whether we want to be or not!) We are merchandisers, accountants and deal with customer service. Not anyone can do what we do. Making a pot is not easy. If you disagree then stop by my studio and I'll give you an ass kicking lesson free of charge :)
The point is this...We do these shows and we get a lot of feedback both good and bad. Not everyone understands the time that goes into making a pot or a silver ring or a glass blown vase or a painting. But we are selling a good that not everyone can replicate and something that is one of a kind. Do not ask us for a deal. You want to buy 2 mugs and want a discount? Its not any less work making 2 mugs than it is 1. Its more work so why do you want a price break?
A workshop goer commented that at a festival she overheard a father say to his son, "See these artists. This is why you get a college degree." Apalling, is it not? My response would simply be, "A college degree? Why yes, I have two. Do you have your Masters degree?"
The past two days have affirmed that I am happy to be a potter even if it only is a part time job. I knew I was happy to be a teacher but now I have a whole new source of inspiration to share with my students. And I was happy to be surrounded by 150 people who understood what it is like to think like I do.
In the next few days I will post some photos. I still have to sort through my notes. I hope they make sense. Now my biggest decision is what to share with my students first?...