Table of Contents » Chapter 4 : Employment » Chapter 4 : Alternatives to Academia

Chapter 4 : Alternatives to Academia

The variety of careers, of options to work in ceramics outside of academia, is rapidly expanding. This varies from selling your artwork directly (online or locally), working at a gallery, writing for publications, designing for industry, to whatever you can think of. I would also suggest reading the interview with Ayumi Horie in Chapter 9: under selling & pricing work, as well as the interview with Alleghany Meadows in Chapter 11.

An excellent resource for Artist when making a living outside of academia is a book called ART / WORK – everything that you need to know (and do) as you pursue your Art career by Heather Darcy Bhandari & Jonathan Melber. This book is mostly about painting, but still has great information about the professional aspects of being an artist.

cerf (craft emergency relief fund) has a wonderful Artist Career Resource page. CERF+ is committed to keeping the craft field strong by keeping professional craft artists at work. Good business practices contribute to the likelihood of rebounding from setbacks, whether due to minor mishaps or major emergencies.CERF+ produces live conference presentations and articles on insurance and other topics that help artists strengthen their business practices.

Harriette Estel Berman has a ferociously helpful website called Professional Guidelines. It has professional guide lines like: working with digital images, tips to getting into juried shows, resources for legal and professional advice and much more. It is a good read. She also has a video about professional practices on line at “The Good, the bad and the Ugly“. This is the link for all of her presentations called “Herriete Estel Berman Slideshares”


Living Beyond Academia & Thriving

essay by Jill Foote-Hutton

“Few things sadden me more than to hear an individual who is walking through the gallery begin to praise a family member for their “creativity” and passion, only to be closely followed by the concerned, “Too bad they can’t make a living at it. Maybe after they finish their degree in _______ (fill in the blank with a choice perceived of as sensible).”

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On Industrial Design As A Career Option

essay by Molly Hatch

I came to my career as an industrial designer through a non-traditional route of studio pottery. My work in ceramics has generally been focused on developing surface pattern for simple functional objects. I have always been interested in drawing, painting and printmaking techniques in their own right but also in relationship to clay. Because of my interest in 2D and surface, I work in a way that is easily translated into surface design for most any material being used in industry—from ceramics and glass, to furniture, wallpaper (room as object) and even fabrics.

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Questions & Suggestions about Starting a Business: Potters Story

essay by Laura Zindel

Why, how did you start your own business?

Starting my own business was not really a choice, being an artist was not really a choice either. I think you start out, go through a series of experiences that make it an either or situation. You choose what makes you feel powerful. I have had many jobs that I liked and a lot that I did not like. The ones that I liked gave me a sense of autonomy that I became addicted to. I liked it when my ideas and direction contributed to the success of something that mattered. I have followed the breadcrumbs… as a certain salty old sea dog once told me to do. Fate, luck what is this thing? There is a universe of wise people always around who tell you things, filter what you will.

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Designing For Industry & Other Alternatives To Academia

There are a growing number of artisans that are designing ceramics for industry. These artist have been involved with working with larger corporations or developing and producing an industrial line of ceramics on their own.

Diana Fyat, Rae Dunn, Jered Nelson and Christa Assad

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Writing About Art

Essay by Liz Howe

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” – Elvis Costello

Great quote, and in, part so true. And yet there is the human urge to interpret, understand or alight upon that to which we are so visually drawn. Writing is a means through which the eye, the hand, the heart and the mind commune to illuminate the artwork. It is a deep form of appreciation that connects the artist, the writer and the wider audience in an open conversation. The artist offers the work to the world, the writer offers a response. The audience is offered free entry into further discussion, thought and consideration of the artist’s work.

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Making Art for the Public

Museum of Art and Design

The Museum of Arts and Design is seeking several experienced makers for demonstrations in the Artist Studios program. The studios are open for the public to interact informally with the working artist during regular museum hours. Successful candidates will have extensive background working predominately in three-dimensional materials and processes; teaching experience is a plus.

For more information visit these links:
madmuseum.org/programs/artist-studios
Job Opportunities at MAD
Email: molly.macfadden@madmuseum.org


Selling Your Artwork

Traditional large scale craft shows:

Artisans sell their work out of their homes, during “kiln openings” through Etsy or their own web pages or blogs as well as large scale arts and crafts shows:

Many artist sell significant amounts of work from their studios or living rooms during holiday sales. Developing a strong local clientele is a good idea. I spoke with a potter once who said he earned 80% of his income selling pots from his kiln unloading events and from his front porch. In Chapter 5: Exhibitions, there is a list of galleries and a discussion of pricing and selling work.

Studio Tours / Sales / Events

Many communities have set up studio tours where artist sell their work from their studios. This have become very popular; it supports local community and educates the public. Here are a few examples of studio tours, there are many many tours all across the US and Canada:

“Value of a studio tour” by Robert Briscoe

Minnesota Potters of the Upper St Croix River
“The Potters of the Upper Saint Croix River Valley Studio Tour invite you to visit all seven pottery studios during the 21st annual tour weekend. You will be welcomed by the potters to their unique, rural workshops and you can meet 42 guest potters invited especially for this event. These special guests will present their work for sale alongside the newest work of each host potter. St. Croix, MN”

16 Hands
The 16 Hands Studio Tour is offered twice yearly: the fourth weekend in November and the first weekend in May. Winding your way through the scenic mountainous countryside of Floyd Virginia, you will be welcomed into the studios of Ellen Shankin, Brad Warstler, Silvie Granatelli, Rick Hensley, Donna Polseno and Josh Copus. In a festive atmosphere of conviviality, food and drink, the work of the members and their visiting artists can be enjoyed

Art of the Pot
Art of the Pot is a Collective of Austin potters committed to expanding the reach of Contemporary Studio Pottery. Art of the Pot hosts Chris Campbell, Keith Kreeger, Ryan McKerley, Lisa Orr and Claudia Reese bring 11 nationally recognized Clay Artists to Austin for our Annual Studio Tour on Mother’s Day Weekend. Austin, TX.”

hilltown 6

Michiana Pottery Tour

Asparagus Valley Pottery Trail

Western Wisconsin Pottery Tour

Valley Craft Network

Little Spokane River Artist Studio Tour

Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour

Community Based Pottery Sales

Communities also get together and develop high quality sales in local art or community centers. This is different than the big ACC sales as they generally are non profit (if that organized) and are very focused on support the potter. There are many many of these kinds of sales, usually around the holidays. The examples listed below are very successful, and are full of good ideas:

Pottery on the Hill
Fifteen nationally-recognized ceramic artists brought their recently-fired, colorful, and durable creations to Hill Center for show and sale. Learn more about these artists and follow their work from links to each on the right side of this page. Annual Group exhibition, Washington, DC

Old Church Cultural Center
An annual pottery sale in Demarest, NJ. Karen Karnes and Mikhail Zakin started the sale originally for potters to sell their wares and raise support for the Old Church Cultural Arts Center. This sale is tremendously successful and is often just called “Demarest“.

American Pottery Festival
The Festival is a three-day extravaganza revolving around the art and use of the pot. It brings together collectors, artists, students, and clay lovers, providing all with an opportunity to share their love of clay, and also brings in much needed revenue for both the participating artists and for NCC.

Land of Odd – Warren Field
….So you want to do crafts shows….
This is a link to a class to help you navigate the crafts show scene. It is presented in 6 parts with 16 lessons, artist and businessman, Warren Feld, will fill you in on the ins and outs, the ‘dos and the do nots’ of selling at craft shows and fairs. Which are best for you, which may be a waste of your time. How to compute the revenue you must earn to justify participating in an event. This is a must see class for anyone thinking of entering the art and craft show world and will maximize your chances of success in these venues.