Sunday, December 16, 2007

Potter's Seventh Circle of Hell

A quick perusal around some of my favorite pottery blogs confirmed what I suspected: few are writing, including myself. If I know ceramic types—and I do-- I suspect everyone is holed up in their studios, and going through something like this:

1)“I don’t have enough work, I don’t have enough work!” (repeat 500 times a day)
2)“I need to make more work, I need to make more work!” (Repeat in head at least once every 60 seconds and yell at spouse/significant other at least once a day, especially when they try to get you to relax.)
3) Feverishly make work while repeating above mantras, first one, then the other.
4) Have repeated breakdowns and self-loathing sessions as work you so feverishly made cracks, sticks to the kiln shelf, or just kind of sucks.
5) Repeat.

I’ll call this the potter’s Seventh Circle of Hell. I know it well. I’ve slept by the Lake of Fire for weeks on end trying to keep ahead of Christmas orders. I’ve been fielding a few panicked phone calls from my potter friends as they feel the flames licking at their little heels. I’m really a good person to call when a potter is ready to jump because I have been there so many times, I can talk anybody off the ledge.

I’m going to give a tiny little lecture here that I’ve given to more than one artist this season: Hire some goddamn help. If you can’t sleep at night as you consider all you have to make the next day, you need some help. If your stomach or spine is burning as you contemplate your order sheet, you need some help. If you are at the studio, missing dinner, ignoring your boyfriend’s cell phone calls, you need some help. Don’t tell me that you can’t afford it. A half-decent assistant pays for themselves. Don’t tell me you don’t have time to train somebody. You’ll get all that time back and then some when you send that assistant on their own. Don’t tell me you are a lone wolf who creates alone. Hire someone who doesn’t talk too much. There are so many people out there dying to work for you, in your dusty little studio. Go and find them!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

freakishly calm

Just where have I been lately? Everyone has been saying to me, “I know you must be so crazybusy right now!” Yes, crazybusy is oneword. As a matter of fact, things have been freakishly calm at my studio. I’m not doing any of my usual holiday shows this year, and let me tell you, it’s been great. I don’t mind doing shows, I kind of like it in a way, but all of the retail craft shows in California have been going downhill sales-wise for a while now. Everyone has their theory on why, including me, but the bottom line is it’s just not worth it for me to show up at these things anymore. Standing around… looking cute… acting nice… and not making any damn money.

I think after the trial by fire last spring with the five-figure-order I’m simply incapable of getting too hyped up and stressed out over what is happening at the studio right now. I’ve worked really hard at getting a system of steady sales in place, and while I look forward to a bump in Christmas sales, I’m not going to lose my head over it. My mind is really on next year: refining my system even more, adding a few more great pieces to my wholesale collection, and giving my assistant more hours at the studio so I can concentrate on what I’m really meant to do in this life, which is drinking really amazing wine by night while making really incredible art by day…

That being said, I’ve loaded up my etsy site with lots of goods, and I’m adding more things all the time. Help me help my local wine shop by getting on over there and buying something beautiful for yourself AND for a friend!