Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Give and Take of it All

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with a classmate of mine from art school. I haven't seen this person in 8 years. She is an incredibly talented potter whose work I really admired while in school. After graduation, she tried her hand at potting full time, but was incredibly frustrated by the lack of financial security, and the long hours needed to make ends meet. After hiding out in teacher's college, she is now teaching at a facility that she loves, has a stable career and a steady paycheck. And yet...

"You know, I'm jealous of you, of what you have..."


Let's just recap what it is I "have".
I work 7 days a week. In fact, I just finished a two year stint where I could count my days off on one hand. I am plagued with financial insecurity; let's face it, I make luxury goods and we're in the biggest global recession of a generation.

"Yes, but you get to make pots all day..."

Sure I get to make pots all day. Dozens and dozens of pots. Every day. And though I've been better lately, I rarely get to make new pots, different pots, or even just pots that explore the creative realms of my brain.

I guess all I'm trying to get at here is that there's a trade off to everything. For those of us who do production work, we DO get to make pots all day, but that comes with a heavy price. I'm stressed. I worry about finances. It's hard to find time for creative play. And while making work all the time can be incredibly rewarding, it can take its toll. There are others who maybe teach pottery classes, so that they don't have to do as much production but that comes with it's own price too. Teaching can be exhausting. It might subsidize the pottery making, but it also takes time away from making your own pottery. Other potters try to balance a part/full time job with a pottery career and that's no small feat either. There's only so many hours in a day, and so much energy that one person has.

So everything comes at a price. The price you are willing to pay for what you want is completely personal. I would never begrudge someone for leaving a studio career to pursue a full time career somewhere else. I can't imagine how difficult a decision like that would be. Nor would I begrudge someone who doesn't pot full time.  While it's flattering that people are envious of what I do, at the same time, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm pretty envious of others who don't have to worry about how their bills are going to be paid next month.

I guess the most important thing is if you REALLY  want to make pots, that you find a way to do it whether it be full time, part time or even sporadically. And don't come down on others who choose to do things differently. It's ALL hard. It all comes with sacrifice.


  1. Well said. Trying to find a way that fits with family etc etc
    I came to clay relatively late in my life so I am trying to just make and sell and exhibit when and how I can.

  2. Yup! That is the same conversation I have all the time with other people in love with clay who aren't ready/able to quit everything (money, sleep,stability, haha) to make pots full time. I could not agree more with your post if I had written it myself!! Now back to work your 10 minute blog break per week is over!!! hahahahhahhaahah Hilary