Can you combine business with your passion for ceramics?

photo © 2006 Martin Cathrae

Can you combine business with your passion for ceramics?


Few endeavors lead as seamlessly to business as ceramics. There are professionals in one or many facets of ceramics and they all have a story to tell how their business got started. They put their education or natural talents to work and suddenly experienced a demand for their products. With a jolt they realize that they are in business. Others start a ceramic business with the determination to be successful as a business person, such as buying an existing studio or starting one under a well know business model.

Since we define a business as selling your products or services such as teaching your skills, for a compensation, you may as well face the truth: You are a business person. You may not have any formal background in business but you have an impressive background as a potter, a decorator, a teacher in throwing on the wheel or in some other ceramic field. If you enjoy the income from your activity, you will find yourself asking – how do I optimize this income or in other words, how to I monetize these skills?

You are now at the juncture of an important decision. Am I seriously interested in the income aspect and am I prepared to think through the results of exploiting this serious interest? Can I continue my development as an artist and, in parallel, develop skills to maximize the income from my artistry?

At this juncture, it is a good idea to seek some help. I don’t mean paying a business consultant big money for steering me right. The decision is highly personal and it would make sense to sit down with a trusted friend and discuss the matter. And to listen to that friend’s free opinion about you and business. You might find strengths and weaknesses from just talking about it and get feed-back from someone who just knows you – and knows you well. It could be a spouse or another family member. Regardless of your relationship, there might be useful hints to you that may lead you in the right direction. One such hint may be to study up on what business really entails and start asking yourself questions that only you can answer, such as:

  • Is serious business for me or should I just keep going and enjoy the random income from it?
  • Do I have the stamina to pursue the professional aspects of a business?
  • Am I afraid of losing the prestige I have built up as an artist?

There is a popular story about the person who visited Picasso in order to buy one of his paintings. They talked about what kind of painting and the person, bewildered, just told Picasso that, as long as he would paint something for him, he would just enjoy owning one of his works. So, Picasso sat down and in half-an hour’s time drew a sketch in his inimitable style and handed it over to his visitor. What is the price, asked the visitor – well, said Picasso, $15,000. The visitor protested and countered – but you only spent half an hour to make it. Well, said Picasso, take it or leave it – it took me 30 yeas to be able to create that piece in half an hour. You decide.

Obviously the artist realized that he was in business. Not only that, but that his time and talent have a price. And, he was not afraid for his reputation in asking for what he thought all his trials, tribulations, talent and training was worth.

You may not be a Picasso, but you get the point. You might be at a point in life when you have to decide on a number of business aspects that you know something – but too little – about. If Picasso can pursue his artistry and combine that with pricing skills, why couldn’t you?

You are at a point where the decision of monetizing your worth leads to some introspective analyzing – some self  examination. And that examination may turn out to be the best thing you over embarked upon in your career.


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© 2011 by Rolf E. Ericson, Oneonta, New York, publisher. All rights reserved. Photocopying, reproduction , copying, or redistribution of any kind in printed or electronic form is strictly prohibited without written permission from the publisher.