Feb 8 2011

The Devaluing Starving Artist Statement

“Your artist statement is the backbone of your marketing. “
~ Alyson Stanfield, author of I’d rather be in the studio! An Artist’s No-excuse Guide to Self-Promotion” and the ArtBiz blog

I was on facebook this morning and followed a link to someone’s website and this was the first thing I saw plastered across their home page:

Hello. My name is {omitted} and I am an artist. What is an artist? It is someone who instead of wearing a suit and going to an office everyday goes to a studio and produces art. Being an artist is kind of a divine calling – something one cannot ignore because the need to create is greater than the need for a 401K, proper health insurance, and reliable income. I know that I am doing what God created me to do and even though it is full of struggles, it is an incredible journey of faith and I am grateful He made me an artist.

(..rolling eyes)

Would this make you want to look at this person’s art or even the rest of their website? Would a collector? ..or would he/she have some concern that this person might not be around tomorrow (ie a poor investment)?

People like this who perpetuate the romance of ‘the starving artist’ are doing themselves (and all artists) a disservice: Artist: charity case, strain on society, dispensable, hobbyist, dreamer, etc., etc.. Hello..? However “Blessed” this person may feel, why would any working artist want to portray and devalue themselves like that?

As with any business, the most successful people I know, working artists included, put forward an image of themselves that is successful. I don’t think this should be any different for artists. Since most of us are self-representing, how we present ourselves can set the tone of and directly influence the perception of our work, possibly even before its seen.


Jan 8 2009

English Country Potter

A few kind people from the UK posted this excerpt from the 1965 film ‘Isaac Button: Country Potter‘, directed by John Anderson and Robert Fournier .

The last time I saw this film (and it had no soundtrack at the time) was at that wonderful Fusion clay conference in Ottawa I had mentioned a few posts ago.  We were very fortunate that conference to have John Leach not only as our presenter, but for his  wonderful narration of this silent film, talking about Mr Buttons and his pottery, as well as fielding questions.

Isaac Buttons was one of the last in a long tradition of country potters.  It is said that he could throw a ton of clay in a day, and gauging from his systematic and efficient way of throwing (a pot in 22 seconds), and the scale of some of his pots, that is certainly not inconcievable.

I would love to have a copy of this film in its entirety to add to my collection, but I have yet to find it for sale.  I’m forever hopeful that it will come up one of these days!

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Oct 7 2008

Throwing a simple bowl

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Jul 3 2008

On Paul Soldner

Playing with Fire, DVDI found this lovely video/DVD put out by the American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) online and thought other people might like it as much as I do.

For those of you who raku, or simply love raku pottery, you may or may not know that Paul Soldner is known as the father of modern raku as we know it today… but that is only part of the story.

This video is available at: http://www.playingwithfirethemovie.com

Please check out this video trailer of the film I’ve linked in from YouTube below:

:
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnN13tsIJTA]


May 14 2008

Young Apprentices

Mixing glaze (by the way, the drill and mixer are actually being supported by an adult out of the photo)

Mixing glaze

We try to nurture interest in the clay process and art whenever the opportunity presents itself. (A few years off from being able to wedge clay though. hehehe)


May 29 2007

Last Spring Art Market & crafts as a livelihood


Our last spring art market (and spring show for the year) was this past Saturday. It was a very nice day and surprisingly active quite early, thanks to the Market on the Square farmers market which takes place weekly on the opposite side of Cathedral Square. Lots of positive feedback from artists and patrons alike.

Anyhow this time of year is always a good time to reflect, regroup, catch up on some orders, and somehow account for how quickly winter and spring passed by..

Here is another video from the CBC broadcast archives that was interesting and, once you get past the early 70s-ness of certain things, it still pertains to a lot of issues artists and craftspeople still face today.

The description from the CBC site about this video:

“For the Cammidges of Vancouver Island, crafting is a family affair. Andrew, the father, makes clay pots; his wife Joyce dyes and spins wool; and the children are expected to master a craft, too. The family has joined a growing number of Canadians who have turned to crafts as a livelihood. But it’s no easy ride: in this CBC report, the owner of a craft supply shop says the odds aren’t in favour of the professional craftsperson.

The link to the story: The Crafty Family


May 24 2007

Michael Cardew pottery clip from the archives


The other day, after a chat with my friend in Manitoba, I went to searching the CBC broadcast archives and this one on Michael Cardew came up. Michael Cardew, in case the name doesn’t ring a bell, is an internationally well-known and well-respected British potter who, as I discovered after watching this clip, was actually the first student of Bernard Leach. Nicely presented on this video.

The description from the CBC site about this video:

“After a lifetime at the potter’s wheel, making a bowl is second nature for Michael Cardew. He starts by kneading a hunk of brown clay to remove air bubbles, then positions it on the spinning wheel. He drives his thumbs into the clay, creating a depression in the centre. With intense concentration, Cardew pulls the sides up and out to create a bowl shape. The process, known as throwing, is the focus of this clip from the CBC series Hand and Eye.”

Video link: “How to throw a pot” with Michael Cardew


May 21 2007

Webb Pottery & First Saturdays Art Market, Mobile AL

No, we haven’t fallen off the planet, just everywhere but the keyboard.
Here are a couple of shots of some raku pots I snapped at a show this weekend. Stylized dragonflies and lotuses bottle & a sweet bay magnolia jar.

Other news.. this spring’s last First Saturdays Art Market will be at Cathedral Square in downtown Mobile on June 2nd from 9 am to 3 pm (NB relocated from the Royal & Government location). There will be pottery and painting demonstrations, and starting at 7:30 am on the other side of the square will be Mainstreet Mobile’s Market on the Square farmer’s market. Hope you are able to join us as we go out with a bang.

(fyi This jar is one of the completed pieces from my February 3rd blog entry, where it appeared in unglazed.)


Feb 1 2007

Beautiful Handcrafted Sinks and Udu, Air, and Skin drums

Rusty Wiltjer - Waterford MaineStarting back in the early 90s, in the early days of Clayart and various pottery newsgroups, there was a group of us who used to log onto the #pottery channel on mIRC, spending long hours happily clicking away at the keyboard talking about anything related to clay, pottery, glazes, firing, kilns, design, life as a potter, apprentices, etc etc etc.

One of the people I haven’t lost touch with from the channel is Rusty Wiltjer (aka Grulox). Rusty has been potting for over 35 years now and is one of the more technically capable potters I know.

Wiltjer Pottery Sink For the last few years, Rusty has focused on developing and producing his handmade sinks, including his pedestal, vessel, and self-rimming models. They are all individually made on the potters wheel, glazed, then high-fired in his gas kiln . I’ve seen a lot of sinks potters have tried to make out there and .. well, there are handmade sinks, and there are handmade sinks. Rusty’s a precision thrower and his sinks are thrown well, designed well (including back-flow), and are finished well.

Wiltjer Pottery Air Orb 2H DrumWhen I visited his site yesterday I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of clay drums he now has up …and each with a sound clip! Its amazing how a slight variation in vessel shape can affect the tone and pitch. Did I mention Rusty also drums professionally and has on and off since he was a kid? For some time now he has been having a weekly drum gathering session at his house where a bunch of like-minded percussionists (I assume all on handmade or primitive drums?) get together and just jam.

Wiltjer Pottery - Captain Drum Head, 28Rusty’s studio is nestled just outside the town of Waterford, Maine, about one hour north of Portland. If you would like to find out more about his sinks, drums, and pottery, or would like to contact him yourself, please feel free to check out his web site www.wiltjerpottery.com.
Rusty Wiltjer live performance.. in his bandana
Here’s a picture of Rusty playing a live performance with singer songwriter Kristen Short. (Nice bandana eh?)


Jan 21 2007

Art Shows Anyone?

In these days of rising costs of materials, operation, gasoline, travel, and show fees, artists are having to rethink how they do business.

Most artists I know have had to face the reality of being more selective and discerning about what art shows they do. Travelling 800+ miles to do a show, paying an exhorbitant show fee (cuz the organizers are getting greedy – $1200 for one outdoor show in Michigan which is preposterous!), with no guarantee that you will even make expenses is just not feasable. Some people I know who still travel away for shows try and be smarter by clustering their show bookings, but even then, one person I spoke to last summer, who did 3 shows on one trip, said his gas alone was at least $800.

In an attempt to be creative and get something going in our area for artists (which hopefully for some will mean less travel), our group The Coastal Artisans (a collective of 13 artists formed last year) in conjunction with the Museum of Mobile (the history museum) , are presently working on putting together an art market (official name yet to be announced) right in downtown Mobile, across from The Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center and the Museum of Mobile on the SW corners of Royal and Government Streets in the green space where the old city hall used to stand.
Our mission is to benefit art, culture, and tourism in the city of Mobile and surrounding area, while at the same time providing self-representing working artists with a quality local event where they can show and sell their work. Like the Coastal Artisan show at the Botanical Gardens in December, the market will have an eclectic mix of invited artists presenting in a range of mediums. It will run the 1st Saturdays of March through June. I should have more info soon on the Coastal Artisan blog/website.

Just a few of the Other attractions downtown: On March 3rd (the first day of the art market) is The 18th Annual American Cancer Society Chili Cook-Off over in Bienville Square, just a couple ofblocks west. The Museum of Mobile has an exhibit on the “Transatlantic Slave Trade” starting Feb 7 that is supposed to be very good. The Exploreum has a wonderful exhibit “A day in Pompeii” running through June, and in their IMAX Dome Theater will be “Greece: Secrets of the Past”