What kind of potter are you? Are you a studio potter or a production potter? Why do we have these labels, and why do we have so many preconceived notions about them?
Many potters have a stigma and an ill feeling around those who are categorized as production potters. Over and over again I hear phrases such as, "I am NOT a production potter, and I never have any desire to ever become one.” As if a production potter is like an artist STD, or a scarlet letter that you must then wear for the rest of your artisan life!
So what exactly categorizes one as a production potter? When looking for this answer I turned to the ever knowing god - Google. Guess what? There is no clear answer on that question. Some state a production potter as one who throws 50lbs or more of clay a day, some say 100lbs. Others categorize a production potter as one who makes the same form over and over. Any potter who is selling work is making the same form over and over. Any potter wishing to improve their pots is making that same form over and over. Wouldn’t this put most of us in some sort of production category?
I have been categorized as a production potter by a few people I have encountered. I actually was very self conscious about his label- I found it belittling of my work. But why, why should it matter what some person categorized me as? I also found it an odd label seeing how much time I put into each and every pot I make. Yes I do make a lot of pots, and I also make a lot of sets, but my process is far from a “production level.”
I am a potter, I make functional pottery. I make sets and I work in small batches and create everything the long, hard way. Why? Because this is the only way I know how, because my joy is in the making, in the process, and in the sweat. If you must label my methods then go ahead. But while you are placing labels on my work I will be in my studio making more pots, because I am a potter and that is what I do.
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Artist and Owner of Off Your Rocker Pottery
I consider myself a hobbyist. I think of a production potter as someone who has the skill and stamina to create a large volume of work. I don’t think I will ever achieve that level. I need to make at least 8 of something to get a pair that almost match.