I purchased these three cups from my mentors, Thomas Hirschler and Kaja Witt, while I was a resident artist at the Ceramic Center in Berlin, Germany. I liked these particular words and sayings because their meaning gets more ambiguous when translated to English. From top left: wintereinbruch (onset of winter—or as I prefer to think of it, winter intrusion), auf wolken (on clouds), and befremden (to appear strange, to surprise).
It can be really difficult to stick to a schedule for working in the studio as there are so many other demands on our time. Most of us have full-time jobs outside of the studio, and since those commitments pay the bills, they naturally come first on the priority list. Even if working in the studio is one way to build creativity, unwind, and re-energize, it can be hard to get started.
The trick is finding ways to catch and maintain creative momentum. In this issue, we focus on the ways that finding or forming peer groups, immersing yourself in a new environment, or looking to your surroundings have helped artists to find, expand, and express their creativity.
Before I started working at the magazine I had the opportunity to do a long-term residency at the Zentrum für Keramik (Ceramic Center) in Berlin, Germany, and participated in an informal residency/volunteer technician position at a university in California. The experiences led to discoveries and changes in my work that I could not have anticipated. I had time and encouragement from fellow residents and mentors to try a number of related ideas at once without being burdened with wanting or needing all of them to succeed. This openness led me to make everything from stand-alone objects and vessels to large-scale installations and interactive pieces.
While my residency experiences were at the beginning of my career, this month’s Spotlight artist, Bob Shay, who thinks of himself as a re-emerging artist, used his time at several residencies to reorient himself to full-time studio life after a long career in university administration. No matter what stage of your career that you’re in, or the amount of time you can dedicate to a residency, the experience is worth it, and there’s likely a place that meets your needs (see page 66).
If attending a residency isn’t possible for you at this moment, I’d invite you to think about how to recreate some of the creativity boosting conditions of a residency where you are. Band together with artists in your area or in your social networks who share your interests. Groups like Montana Clay (p. 42) and the Romantic Robots (p. 20) formed to help members in both the business and creative aspects of their careers from collaborating on projects and organizing group exhibitions to networking, marketing, and even coordinating shared trips to get materials.
Think about the tools you use in the studio. Doug Casebeer, from Anderson Ranch Arts Center, has crafted and collected specific ribs, throwing sticks, and trimming tools to make his functional vessels, and each one has a meaningful story that is often connected to his mentors and peers (p. 30).
Make your studio space as inspiring and inviting as possible. Tim Christensen finds creative focus in the very local, namely the ecosystem that surrounds his remote studio in coastal Maine (p. 46). While discussing the importance of compositional space, Robert Piepenburg notes how the creative feel of the studio space is so important to his mood, energy level, and productivity (p. 34). This month’s studio visit artist, Tania Rollond, finally had the opportunity to move her studio out of a spare bedroom and into a new addition with lots of light and space, and areas devoted to different tasks from handbuilding and throwing to drawing (p. 26).
Whatever your situation is, think about it as creatively as you think about the work you make.