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  • janenewaudby

Potfest


These are still early years in my ceramics career and the learning curve remains steep. This year I did two shows (the first ever was in 2021). Each time I go, I make changes on the stand, make more friends and learn more about what works. They are fast becoming my favourite part of the year. This year in Potfest Scotland (back in June), I learned that even legendary ceramic artists have bad sales days, and have to deal with that. Everyone hurts on a low sales day, even the big names.


It has been making me think a lot about how I make decisions about what to make. Up to now I have been mainly driven by what I want to make, but I am also influenced by what sells. So I make "small things" which are affordable, as well as big things, which are not so affordable. This has been important to me (that the work is democratic) but I am enjoying making smaller things less.... because I make bigger things better now. I am still constrained by the size of my kiln (34cm max) and I don't want to buy a new kiln yet because that needs to wait for the bigger studio'. Even so, as this season draws to a close, I am thinking what distribution of products to make for next year. There are a few forms, or colours and textures that don't sell as well, though I still love them - and they are no less valid as pieces of work than the more popular pieces. Anyway, watching the legendary ceramic artists (expensive work, naturally) sell less in ££ terms made me think. What am I doing this for? How important are sales to me? If sales are important, then I need to make "crowd pleasers" to keep the sales ticking along. If I only make statement (expensive) pieces, how will I feel if I don't sell as much. Will I feel like a failure because I haven't made as much money? Its a really tough question because naturally a ceramics fare is a place to sell pottery (and make new connections). But it takes a confident and financially solvent potter not to feel a bit disappointed by muted sales. So we get back to the question of how much you play to the audience and how much you stick to what you want to make. I am a people pleasing sort of person, but I am starting to think about not making what I am bored with (some of the smaller pieces)..... but then I remember the enjoyment all those people get from those pieces......which I enjoy too. I am not sure there is a right answer. I expect I will just shift the work in subtle ways - and retain the smaller pieces for now - but maybe have fewer of them - just until I feel brave enough to sit and not feel rejected if I don't sell anything.... or until the cost of living crisis is over anyway!

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