10.06.2009

Reflecting

When you've been making and selling pots for awhile you never get past the point of over thinking what your doing right or wrong. Maybe this is just true of art in general. Those of us who make things or create internalize so much of the process that at times, it sort of take a lot out of us. I use to think it was just me who encountered this but after being in the business for several years, I think most of us feel this way. Its no wonder when your in art school and you have a critique that some take the criticism with no emotion and others get super defensive. Selling things you create is sort of the ultimate critique just with no words said. Funny....would we rather have a professor tell us that our pots just didn't meet the standard expected or would we just like for customers to quietly pass us by?

I thought I'd bring up these questions not because I had a bad sale last weekend - I did sell pots. Its just that you never know what will be a hit and what will not be a hit. You can think that maybe you've found your niche with folks and then other times you may think that your not speaking to the masses as well as you could.

I've gone back and forth several times with these thought and all I can conclude is that...well, I'm just an artist who is sensitive to what I make. I guess this will never change and after every sale I just have to sit back, re-group, clean-up my studio and start again on making the best work I can. I always like to tell myself that the time in my studio with my quite thoughts is so important. This time I have is so limited with balancing all the other things/people in my life. I tend to forget this when I have a deadline and with multi-tasking , I should really be focusing and not rushing through the creative process. Details are a hard thing for someone with ADD to focus on!

Last night I worked on some butter dishes that needed to be finished. I had several pots that did not make it into the kiln last week so I will slowly load my kiln this week. The majority of my time will be spent on my Art101 class...midterm is fast approaching so I need to give that area of my life some attention.

I hope everyone has had a good start to October. It is my favorite month!

12 comments:

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

I for ONE ADORE your work. But I know what its like to question it all, yep.....

Brian said...

I remember talking to a nature photographer who did a lot of art shows. He was always amazed at what would sell/not sell. One week it would be landscapes, then next week it'd be birds. No rhyme or reason to it. Just keep on doin' your own thing!

traceybroome@mindspring.com said...

There is just no predicting what people are going to like. Be true to yourself, make what you love making- that's the best you can do! This past weekend I loaded up on things that I made for the Farmers Market over the summer that did well. I didn't really like making those things but they were popular and I made them for the farmers market customer. This past weekend at Festifall not one of those things sold, but the things I loved making and were very proud of all sold. And the NC Craft Gallery asked me for some things, yay!
Go figure! Good news is, I'm not making all those small little gimicky things that draw in customers anymore. I'm just making what I like the most, then see what happens.

Gabe Sealey-Morris said...

The worst is when you sell several of a certain piece - a particular image, or style, or form - and go home, make up a ton more, and don't sell a single one at the next sale.

At some point, maybe you're supposed to decide to just make what you like and hope you find someone who likes it.

We had a very ingratiating experience at our last sale when an artist in the area whom we really admire - not a potter but a painter - fell in love with our stuff. And the pieces he and his wife liked best were ones that we thought no one would buy - that only we would like. Makes you feel good.

Vicki Gill, potter said...

It's really nice when people love the work that most touched you when making it. I think most artists will always be their own worst critic. I also think that you begin to view your work differently, the longer you have been creating. That heady romance of getting your first pieces out of the kiln eventually turns to a more critical eye. I see things about my work now that I wouldn't have noticed a few years ago.
I love my little cupcake dish. Sure wish I had a real cupcake to enjoy it with. Maybe this weekend!

Annie Singletary said...

thanks for your honest words jen.
i too am sensitive to what i make, especially when people ask if i can use earth tones, which is something i don't love.
as someone that hasn't been selling for years, i wonder, where do you draw the line for the changes you will make for customers?

Michael Mahan said...

Let's start a movement: slow potting, like slow food.

Easy does it.

carter gillies said...

Sometimes hard not to get down when sales work out differently than you had hoped. I think everybody had good perspectives on this, and on maintaining a balance with your commitment to your own ideals. I like how you connected the idea of an instructor critiquing work to someone looking at it to buy (or walk by). Sometimes even your teachers and classmates have no idea what you are trying to do. sometimes the things they have to say are constructive criticism, but sometimes what they have to say is either completely irrelevant or merely superficial and even sometimes malicious.

So the choice seems to be not caring about what others think about your work, accepting the praise along with the criticism and indifference, or somehow trying to predict what will sell and then put only that stuff out to be judged. As others have pointed out it makes sense to always be true to yourself, but this doesn't mean you can't try to anticipate what your customers will want. Accurately predicting this is perhaps impossible, so you may want to always hedge your bets by bringing some of everything. But I thought the scenario that Tracey pointed out was exactly the issue: What sells at one venue has little relation to what sells at another. It almost never is about how good the pots are. A different audience will always see things differently.

So how the hell do you predict this? Knowing your customers, knowing the venue, factoring in the seasonal concerns (colors and types of pots sold), etc., all seem to make a difference. I would be interested to hear if anyone is successful at marketing to specific audiences and what their strategies are. What do you do Jen?

jimgottuso said...

i have totally given up trying to figure out what some unknown potential customer might like, i've never been correct, the little orphan pot that i stick in the corner because i'm sure no one would consider it is always the first to go. that being said i'm a firm believer that some people will like my pots and some won't and i'm really interested in the ones that do and not really interested in the ones that don't. there's also the possibility that many more people like our pots than are able to purchase them for one reason or another. all that being said, i really like your pots.

cookingwithgas said...

I feel this all the time and we have been making and selling pots for almost 30 years.
I love to tell Mark, with a laugh, do you think we will figure this out this year?
Well said!

Dirt-Kicker Pottery said...

This is a good blog subject. I'm a new potter, with only 2 sales under my belt, my expectations are low, as are my prices. My desired direction is to incorporate more of an artistic feel to my functional pieces. However I am also torn by the thought that most people in my forum want to buy useful pottery, not necessarily artistic pottery. It's been interesting and enlightening to read these wonderful posts.
- Cindy

Patricia Griffin said...

This was a really helpful post Jen. And thanks to all who wrote comments too. It is helpful not so much because it answers the questions I have about my own work and customer appeal, but because it shows me that I'm not alone. Thanks.