There are many, many potters making pots in the world. As I’ve explored the business side of clay and listened to other clay artists' experiences through interviews and podcasts, there are numerous similarities in our transition from passion for this medium to making it into a profession.
Once we’ve made an abundance of pottery pieces and gifted them to family and friends, someone inevitably asks us to make them something special and offers to pay for it. ‘Light bulb moment.’ From there, the business journey often begins for many of us and the question, “Who Are You?” becomes important on several levels.
Finding your own personal voice in clay -- your style -- is a guide for creating a specific body of work to sell. Defining who you are through your art is part of the path of this journey. Type of clay, style, shape, form, technique, glaze and color choice all influence the final outcome of clay art. All these creative choices help make each potter’s work unique to them. It can be a fluid development as skills improve, new choices are explored and creative decisions change. As an artist, it’s a good question to keep asking. "Who are you?"
On the flip side, when art becomes a business, artists also start to ask “Who Are You?” about our customers. Why are people drawn to our creations enough to pay money for them? There are analytics to determine the specific demographics to this question. But I think with purchasing art, there is also a binding emotion that plays into a purchase. A buyer connects to us on a personal level. And since many clay creations are functional, there is a useful application for the purchase.
Many of my friends have also become my customers. They know me and they know what I make. There is a connection there. Taking my creations into the world through craft fairs, private home shows, galleries and the internet has opened up another avenue for sales. In this case, I don’t necessarily know the purchaser. I rely on my clay creations to communicate who I am to make the connection resulting in a sale. And sometimes, I'm lucky to have my customers become my new friends!