Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Making a living with clay: part 1

I've had a big change in my life with the recent-ish (becoming less and less so all too quickly) birth of my little guy Guthrie. This has had welcomed and obvious implications on my artistic career and daily choices of how to spend my time. While I tried to predict a slow down in the studio and plan accordingly, it was difficult to know exactly how much time for creating would present itself. Between trading one day of babysitting a week with a friend, some evenings, and catching an hour or two during Guthrie's nap, I've been able to carve out some time in the studio.

Through some careful decisions, recent time in the studio has been spent on some very different projects for me. Over the past few years, I have made the bulk of my clay income by selling pots at retail shows and to galleries, teaching adult classes at Clayworks and taking on the occasional commission (personal and corporate). Since my time has now become less consistent, I have made the choice to pursue some larger projects that have longer deadlines and a bit more flexibility, more teaching opportunities, and only participate in a few retail shows. These projects include a public art commission that started last May (I'll post more on this in the future), an artist residency at a local elementary school (another post), and have pursued and accepted some opportunities to travel to teach workshops (which excites me to no end!).

All this being said, I'm going to do a short series of posts about different ways to make a living with clay. During this process, I'm curious to hear how others are doing it too.

Well, one source of income that I hadn't imagined would happen for me is getting an article published in a periodical. I'm thrilled to say that one of my pots is the cover story of Pottery Making Illustrated! I was shocked (and pleased, of course) to find out that my image was chosen. You can check out the article here.

Many magazines take submissions and have their guidelines posted online. Often they will pay by the word and for images included. PMI likes "how-to" articles that are written from a teaching perspective, which seemed to be a good fit for me.

-wider exposure of your work and techniques
-articulated self-reflection of what you do while creating and why

-time spent writing is time out from creating in the studio
-you have to buy a copy of the magazine for each member of your family


tsbroome said...

Amy: this is a great post and I think all of us have so many approaches to making a living with clay, it will be great to hear from others. I mostly teach kid's classes, which I have infinite patience for apparently, I teach one adult hand building class, I am an artist in residence for Chatham County Arts Council and I am an artist in residence for the ArtsCenter in Carrboro. I will begin soon to hold Raku workshops at my house twice a year and last year two friends of mine and myself started a studio sale together. My plan for this year is to start soliciting some galleries and hopefully next year get on the Chatham County studio tour. I work one day a week at Claymakers in exchange for clay/classes and kiln/glaze use. I also try and help out other potters ie: Mark Hewitt when possible for a little extra cash. The things I do to keep from going to an office every day!

Linda Starr said...

Congratulations on your article, what a beautiful photograph esepcially with the flowers. So often pottery is shown without it's use and it's nice to see it featured as functional.

What a great topic for a post, thanks so much for sharing your ideas. Just starting this process and this year I plan on opening up my studio (as a feature) since I live on a main highway (just finishing up painting my signs this week). I live in a very small population base way out in the country so art fairs have been my venue so far and I have plans on approaching galleries and art stores; am hoping to teach some handbuilding classes here and would like to have barrel firing and pit workshops after I perfect some of my techniques; still I am also looking for a part time office job.

Anonymous said...

great post... i had no idea that PMI took submission for content

amy said...

Ladies- thanks for your input and ideas. I'll be sure to do a compilation post of responses.

Jim- here's the link to submission guidelines for PMI:


cindy shake said...

Congratulations! I just got my copy in the mail and thought "hey, I read her Blog!" It was fun for me to be able to make a connection with an artist's whose work I enjoy and is innovative.

With an ever shifting/changing economy/market, I've began working in clay again to "compliment" my metal sculpture. Staying fresh, competitive and innovative are my goals and objectives for being able to sustain a full-time career as an artist. It's not very easy living the artful life -but well worth it!

Mama V said...

Amy, this is AWESOME! Adn well-deserved! Congratulations! I'm so proud of you!

Awesome, awesome, awesome.

sam said...

Congrats on a great article and equally wonderful photos of you and your work. The textures are stunning. Sorry I missed your teaching stint here in Cincy. Happy to hear about Guthrie. He may be one of your youngest fans, count me in the older group.

sam said...

Just returned from a trip to Saluda, North Carolina where I found some of your pottery in a shop called Heartwood. I knew it was your work even before I found your name card. Your textural signature was identifiable. I'm so proud of you.
Always a Monrovian,

amy said...

Thanks Sam. I'm glad you made it out to Heartwood- what a beautiful gallery.

terri kennedy said...

Great Article in PMI. I always loved your work and reading your blog!

Sandy Gullett said...

Amy, I am in art heaven looking at your beautiful work. Sam Smieszny put me on to your blog. We saw each other at a luncheon for retired N.R. teachers a few days ago. I remember seeing a self-portrait of you at a district art show, long blonde pigtails, I can still picture it in my mind. I saw your grandmother Martha and Aunt Jan at the luncheon. After getting the who's died and illnesses over with we get to catch up on grandkids and success stories of former students.
You are truly an artist. When John and I retired and moved to Morehead, KY we planned for a studio to be part of the house. I have always considered myself to be a painter but have been surprised to find an affinity for colored pencil drawing. I know how you feel when away from the work for awhile. I have had an unfinished watercolor on my table for the last month. I walk past it longingly but family matters have taken priority. I have sold some works locally, one or two a year, just a hobby but a very enjoyable one.
Tell your Dad and Mother Hi from the Gulletts. Johnny and Jimmy are 25 and 28 now. Guthrie is indeed lucky to eat from a handmade ceramic bowl. I will be checking in to view your work again.

Dirt-Kicker Pottery said...

Hi Amy, I enjoyed your aticle in "Pottery Making Illustrated". Your work is beautiful and inspiring. For me.. "Making a living with clay" is the most challenging part of being a Potter. At this point, I'm not making a living. I'm still trying to figure out how to sell my work without losing money in the process. Great post. Thanks :)

Ron said...

Will she ever blog again?

claypot said...

I adorably love your pottery designs. It's a unique kind of an art. I'm thinking of learning about pottery too. Hope I could get more ideas here in your blog.

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