A consequence of being a potter is you make a lot of pots… and then you have to figure out what to do with those pots. After you have filled your cupboards and your friends’ cupboards, many potters begin to think about selling their pottery. I began selling my pottery in 2007; and, I am often asked how to sell pottery/crafts. In the past few posts, I have shared a few avenues for selling that I have used. And, although I can give advice about how to sell, I can’t tell some one when to sell.
Are you ready to part with your pots? Only you will know if you are emotionally ready to sell your pottery. As a result of having taught pottery to adults, I have observed some developmental patterns we all go through as beginning potters. At first, every pot is valuable (after all, centering is such a challenge that any viable pot is prized). Then, a level of discernment begins to develop and it is conceivable to reject lower quality pots. Eventually, as skill increases (but before confidence in one’s skills to replicate the pot emerge), the first, well-thrown pots are treasured. Until you believe you can make the pot again, you might regret passing it on.
Are you ready to take criticism? It is common for customers to comment about the pots they are considering purchasing. And, if you are shy or unconfident about your work, customer comments can hurt or make you feel defensive. It is hard to hear some one else identify a real (or perceived) flaw in something you have worked hard to make; but, if you are confident in your work, it is easier to keep a balanced perspective. The first few times it I overheard negative comments in the craft booth, I was rattled; but, I didn’t allow those comments to discourage me.
Is your pottery good enough to sell? I mean, is it technically well-thrown and glazed? Although there are no perfect pots, your pots should be well-made and structurally sound. A good way to evaluate your technical skill is to request a critique from a potter/artist you respect. If you are uncomfortable asking some one to assess your work, then you might not be emotionally ready to sell your pottery. You should have enough confidence in your ability to receive input; otherwise, subjecting your work to the general public could be discouraging. (Side note: as my skills have improved and my vision of what I want to do as potter has become clearer, it is easier for me to take the useful information from negative (and positive) comments and discard the rest.)
Has anyone asked you to sell a piece? Another marker to determine whether you are ready to sell your pottery is if you have been approached about selling your pots. Perhaps a neighbor or friend has asked to buy something; or an organization or gallery has suggested that you submit something. These can be indicators that your work is ready to be sold; but, you should be comfortable and want to pursue it before committing. Don’t let anyone make that decision for you.
Let me say that it isn’t necessary for a potter to sell her work. For most potters, making pots is a hobby; and, for most people it isn’t necessary for their hobbies to generate revenue. However, there is a different form of appreciation that is obtained when some one purchases a pot. And, selling my pots has provided me the opportunity to make more pots – which is what I really want to do!