Self-employed artists have careers that are as varied as their interests, personalities, skill sets, locations, and artwork. Those who find a successful mix of income streams have often done so through as much trial and error as careful planning. And while the mix of jobs that artists do is specific to their needs, strengths, and goals, others who are interested in earning a second income or making the leap to a studio-based income can benefit from learning how they got started and how they maintain their careers.

In this issue, we’re featuring Kurt Anderson, Dawn Candy, Julie Crosby, Jo Davies, and Sarah Pike in our annual focus on working potters—artists who earn half of their income or more from making and selling pots. In each of their respective articles, these artists describe how they began their careers, built their businesses, and decided to put down roots (or not). They talk about their studios: why they chose them, how they set them up, and how much time they spend there making pots. The potters also share insights on how their revenue streams have changed over time. Some of the changes are related to the artists’ discoveries of what worked best for them as individuals. Others came about due to cultural and technological developments that have made ceramics more accessible and opened up new ways to communicate, maintain connections, and sell work. Several artists also share how they are adapting to face the current financial, emotional, and creative challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Kurt Anderson's jar.

This month’s Studio Visit artist, Virginia Leonard, is also a full-time artist. In an interview with Elizabeth Kozlowski, Leonard discusses her studio setup and creative inspiration, as well as the challenges and opportunities associated with making large-scale sculptures and shipping them to a global audience from her home base in New Zealand. 

As we all adjust to a new reality, Jack Troy offers a thoughtful reflection on the meaning of shared collaborative work in these times of physical distancing. He and his firing crew loaded and fired his wood kiln early this spring, prior to stay-at-home requirements going into effect. By the time the kiln was cool enough to unload, the group could no longer gather safely. So the kiln sits, still bricked up, holding imagined but unknown treasures, awaiting the day the group can finally reconvene. I hope that when they do, unloading the kiln and finally bringing those pots into the light of day is an event full of joy and camaraderie.

And finally, longtime working potter Dick Lehman shares a reflection on chance connections and the unanticipated impact they can have on our lives in this month’s Spotlight article. May it remind us of the role that the kindness and generosity of others plays in making growth possible in all of our lives.

If readers take something away from this issue, I hope it is that whatever your career goal or creative challenge, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. There are others in our supportive community who can help guide you, directly or indirectly, to find success.

-Jessica Knapp, Editor
Topics: Ceramic Artists