Let’s start off with a thought that came to mind when looking over ceramics online, mainly functional ceramics. I looked over local potters/professional potters of the area, international artists mainly related to ceramics, and looked over some lectures and podcast related to our art and art practice. I was looking for inspiration and some examples of interesting art, mainly in the form of photos but then it moved on to readings on the ceramic art/craft. I felt it was about time I got back to reading more on the art/craft field I have skirted for a while. I want to build my own decisions and create my own likes and dislikes, through reading some essays but due mostly to pod casts, but on a neutral level I would like to understand the art that is out there and not come to any unfounded conclusions. And to also not be snagged up in a con.
So when I start off this post with 90%, I am bringing forth the theory that 90% of work within an art form is not well made or thought out. Some of it is crap. And this does not exclude my own work. I am sure there could be some strong opinions about whether it is logical to “police” , in a way, work coming out in the ceramics field. I am bringing this up as an understanding of what art/craft should be about and what art/craft is now. While I see less and less of real pretentiousness in craft, unlike art, some pieces made in the craft field are considered basic and not technically well made.
The point I want to make is this – How do we create a continuous, growing market and not stick to the usual conventions of art and craft (Art being about having a subject attached to it while craft has a more technical aspect associated with it, how and we tend to stick within those guidelines to feel “safe”), that those fields will expand the populations interest. Now the market is vast and most of the population, I assume, still would rather buy an industrial model of a mug, rather than the “expensive” version from an artist. Over the years, and this is perhaps due mainly to my growing involvement in the art/craft field of ceramics, I have seen more and more interest in the “handmade” and “local sources” of ceramics. People are coming around to art and craft again, because it has become less rigid, less “isolated” than it was in the 80’s and 90’s. But we are still after the same models as before, we make our art and craft and believe so blindly in the market of selling our work.
The result of the question I asked in the last paragraph, how do we create a market for our art/craft in ceramics, is answered by thinking like a designer. What do the people want? How can I assess what relates to their needs and then to mine or vice versa as related to importance.
I came up with getting my work within the area I will most likely find my ceramics, in the kitchen and in the home. In my case, I plan to talk to restaurants about what they use ceramics, what aspects do they look for in the wares that they buy, and the wares they will serve their creations in. And it is also keen to ask the user how they perceive the use of the pieces I have made. These pieces have been designed to fit my own model, but how will the populace share that model.
It is a funny thing for a ceramic artist to pick up his own work and use it, then to see its flaws and it’s perfection and come up with the same “perfect” results, or to work on correcting the flaws. What can be said for an artist/crafts person who can change the way the make and what they make. What can be said of an artist/crafts person who relies on the same work that they have always done, and it becomes a niche. Should an artist and crafts person look for change?
The hope with this small article is to simply pass along an idea that was stirred up, and perhaps lead to more discussions.
Julia Galloway’s Field Guide for Ceramic Artisans
featured image is of work by Brett Kern