All types of business require specializing – ceramics is no exception

Few people outside the ceramic industry understand how big and how diversified it is.

It’s one of the biggest industries on this globe – and always was – from days immemorial.

You use it at home every day, porcelain, stoneware and earthenware in the form of bowls, plates, pizza stones, ash trays, sinks, toilets, tiles - inside on the walls or in your corridors and batch rooms and outside on the roof or in the walls in the form of bricks. There are ceramic parts in computers, televisions, and spacecrafts. If you have a tooth with a crown, it’s made of porcelain, so ceramics may also be in your body. The list goes on…

All these different types of ceramics have two common denominators – clays and fire. There are hundreds different types of clay and they react differently to various temperatures, creating thousand of different types of ceramic bisque (fired clays). If you already are involved in ceramics you probably already have a favorite art form and work with your preferred raw materials. If you want to begin, then you have to try and make a decision. This series of “Successful Ceramics” is here to guide and help you. You can find how to reach me at the end of this article.

I have already explained that Successful Ceramics is focused on the art-oriented industry of ceramics. So, your first challenge is to select which type(s) of art you are the most passionate about and home in right there. Is it low-fired ceramics or is it high-fired? Is it forming clay, casting, decorating already shaped forms?  Well, we will come back to that after we get the bigger picture clear.

Rule 1. You will be most successful in the art form you are most passionate about.

I have been involved in ceramics for the past 35 years and like stoneware and porcelain in different forms, from pre-shaped clay (such as pressed), to moist clays, to cast stoneware and porcelain. And as you have guessed by now, I am passionate about the business possibilities in ceramics.

Rule 2. When you are passionate about something, you stay with it through rain or shine.

And – when you stay with something for the long term, you get better at your performing capabilities. And when you see yourself improving – as many do for life - you catch “Ceramic fever” – an addiction (affliction, if you so wish) which may last a life time. If you do, you will become an expert in your area. That expertise can take you much further than you ever dreamed of.  We will get back to that too, as we continue to explore the world of ceramics.

Rule 3. Given the endless variations in creating ceramics, you absolutely must focus.

If you stray from focusing you will eventually lose both your energy, your passion and see a constant decline in skills.

Rule 4. Focusing is easily understood, but requires stamina and determination to turn into reality.

Over the years, I have advised people about their business in ceramics. One of the main problems I perceive is overwork, depression, problems in their private lives and – a perceived or real failure in making enough money. In the majority of these cases, the main culprit is that they are not focusing. The many facets of ceramics have drawn them into adjacent or distant areas, and the result can be disastrous. Not only in a personal way but also financially.

Rule 5. Looking ahead into the future will help you stay in the now and survive temporary set-backs in your life and/or your art.

The winds of life are not steady – they blow in different directions and it is difficult to stay true to your elected direction. Yet, the winds also turn and what yesterday was a headwind now pushes you from the back. Therefore, one of the most important parts in the course of your life is perseverance.

What is required to stick to the five rules?

All of the above five rules require the backbone of a business well run and supported. We have started to talk about the support system you must build. We will get into more of that facet and many other requirements to stay in business. This publication is aimed at giving you tools to stay and prosper.

You see, talent and skill is not enough. You also need to learn how to deal with the reality of the world of business. So stay with me and we will tackle that in much more detail.

Again, I am here to advise and steer. If you contact me, you will make it much easier for me to help you and for you to drive in the right direction, at the right speed and with the comforting feeling of being in control.

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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.