Arts & Crafts Statement
The difference between art and craft is that art usually does not have a real function in people's lives other than it aesthetic beauty. Craft, on the other hand, has some function in a household. Functional pottery, tile, a vase all have uses. A painting or sculpture works on its aesthetics. Paintings and figurative work have traditionally been thought of as fine art. Also, if it hangs on a wall it can be referred to as art similar to a painting or drawing.
In my work, coming from western art training, I decided to use the wall as a place to display a lot of my work. In western architecture there is a vast quanity of open wall space in homes. From a marketing perspective, as an artist, I decided to compete with painting for this open wall space. Ceramic vessel and object makers always need a shelf or pedestal to display their work. Since the walls are so large, I make large pieces to fill this empty space.
Tiles and plates on the wall can form modular units. By making large ceramic pieces I am defeating the idea of practical use. I am also isolating my work in the market because very few ceramists work on this scale because of their physical strength, limitations and technical knowledge – fabrication, firing, shipping, etc. So, as a ceramist my work is unlike other ceramists. The market is looking for alternatives to traditional painting for walls. I have found that long narrow pieces are easily fit into western homes. There are many long narrow wall spaces left in a home where traditional paintings are displayed on the big wall spaces. One of the most important remnants that document ancient Greek civilization is from ceramic pieces. Ceramics has the ability to withstand the elements over long periods of time and can be displayed outside unaffected by sun and weather.
There are a few good museums that specialize in the collecting of ceramics. Many of the most famous art museums have some pieces also. But for the most part contemporary ceramics is not collected by the famous museums. Also, ceramists complain about not being included, but the fact is they do not produce enough, and their art is not large enough, to fill the huge museum spaces. Let's face the fact many museums do not have room for ceramics. They are filled with a bunch of deceased artists' works. Storage of ceramics is costly and takes up space. With the majority of universities emphasis on imagery type work the big museums will see new artist's different ways of working with clay instead of traditional pottery. They may open their doors to some ceramists. In the meantime potters and tile artists are the usually the only full time ceramists that make a decent living. The rest of the imagery type, or ceramic sculptors, make their living in other ways like teaching, another job, an inheritance, or a spouse. Very few abstract ceramists make it on their work unless it is figurative or they have a bread and butter line of work to sell.
I am not here to discourage young ceramists from pursuing their dreams… My advice is to work hard and make at least 10 of each style, size or shape of your creations. Be as creative as possible within your kiln size. Try to leave some steps out of processes during art making to have more varied results. Use production techniques of working. I fabricate for 4 or 5 months, bisque fire for two months, glaze fire for two months. Then, it is finishing, photography, marketing, shipping for two months. This will streamline your art producing capabilities and allow for greater success. In the art business, like many others ask and you may receive. Market your work widely. An artist looks for an empty space in which to place their art.