Spotlight: Open to Change



Ceramics Monthly: Throughout your twelve year career as a studio potter, what has worked out the way you planned it, and when did you have to use/devise an alternative plan?

Kristen Kieffer: My plan has always been to be adaptable. The main goal I established for myself in the fall of 2003 was to make what I want to make and supplement my precise, time-consuming studio process with part-time income. This has not changed, though what I make, how I sell, and what supplements my pottery sales has changed significantly. I wrote an article for The Studio Potter in 2004 about my first year and future plans as a studio potter, so I can actually flip open that issue and read my past expectations. When I declared myself a full-time maker twelve years ago, I couldn’t fathom my pots being anything other than soda-fired, Etsy and Facebook did not exist, and many of us were still shooting slides. I thought craft shows would be my primary income, and that I could spend 90% of my studio time actually making. My planned constant of teaching part-time community pottery classes faltered when the craft center where I worked closed for the full year of 2009. This resulted in my dad and I collaborating to shoot my how-to DVD, Surface Decoration: From Suede to Leatherhard. My supplemental income now includes teaching adult classes locally and workshops nationally, and selling DVDs internationally. I sold my craft show trailer, and primarily sell pots through my online shop with additional, diversified selling via retail galleries, studio sales, workshops, and exhibitions. Twelve years later, I am still making what I want, although I’m very aware of the recession’s continued impact. I have embraced social media and sincerely appreciate the independence it offers toward marketing and sales. I am also working to increase my local visibility. My current plan is to continue a healthy balance of life and studio, and to remain open to change.


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