Selling work through a gallery can be a vehicle to access a market unlike the one you can cultivate on your own. Whether it’s in a different community or region, has a client base interested purely in ceramics or in multimedia artwork, or curates pieces into exhibitions that appeal to a specific audience, a gallery can provide many opportunities to gain exposure. The choice to work with galleries, publicize and sell what you create on your own, or do both really depends your individual situation and preferences.
I personally appreciate galleries for their expertise at gathering skillfully made, inspiring, ceramic art all in one place. When gallery staff and owners have a thorough knowledge of the field and a thoughtful and caring approach to working with artists as well as collectors, it shows. In these spaces, I know I will find something new, and maybe even unexpected, precisely because of the enthusiasm about and devotion to ceramics that the people curating these collections have. There are thematic and aesthetic threads that lead from one object to the next in the exhibitions as well as the shop displays, and these allow for a dialog and interplay between works by different makers. Experiencing the pieces together provides insights and enriches my understanding of them.
In this issue, we cover the topic of galleries with a behind-the-scenes perspective, discussions on the ways artists get selected for representation or exhibitions, and, woven throughout the issue, artists’ thoughts on how they promote and sell their work. Since buyers are an integral part of this equation, we also share one collector’s story of recognizing the evocative power of ceramics, and the personal importance of his growing collection.
View of the shop area at Bluecoat Display Centre (https://bluecoatdisplaycentreshop.com) in Liverpool, England. Photo: Pam Seale Photography.
Andy Palmer, co-owner of In Tandem Gallery, talks about how he and his wife, Silvia Ferrari-Palmer, started the business in Bakersville, North Carolina; how previous jobs have helped them be successful; and what they have needed to learn on the job. He describes the practices they have put in place to market ceramic vessels and sculptures and maintain good relationships with both the artists they represent as well as their customers and collectors. He also offers tips for artists when it comes to doing business with galleries and assessing whether a specific gallery is a good fit for them.
In this issue’s Spotlight article, Margaret Kinkeade, Roberto Lugo, and Brooks Oliver, who are the 2021 jurors for the Strictly Functional Pottery National, share their rationale for selecting pots for inclusion in the exhibition.
In the Clay Culture section, Curtis Houston talks about what compelled author and collector Mike Middleton to start and expand his ceramics collection. The objects he has amassed in his home represent over 300 artists and includes numerous Ron Meyers vessels as well as a special subset of Harry Styles–themed pots by various artists (yes, you read that right).
Expanding on the avenues artists can tap into for selling and showing work, Dan Ingersoll talks about his experience with creating a multimedia sculpture for a public installation. He details everything from the proposal to making sure his design and materials can withstand the extremes of Wisconsin’s weather over time.
Whether you’re interested in having your work seen by new audiences, learning about ceramics made by fellow artists, or buying art for your own use and enjoyment, the articles in the issue and the Gallery Guide listing have you covered.