Yes, today I would like to discuss the forbidden topic – money.
Each year I try to come closer to turning a profit (i.e., have my revenue exceed my expenses) on my pottery. I figure this is critical if I am to make a living from this thing I love so I can do more of it. As I planned for my 2010 sales year, I added a few outdoor craft fairs to my selling strategy. The first one was to occur this last Saturday. Unfortunately, it was canceled due to rain. I sulked the rest of the day, after I unloaded the car. While sales were certainly not guaranteed, the promise of no sales was tough to take and got me thinking. How do professional artists handle these hiccups?
While sulking, I realized that I was fortunate that the canceled show doesn’t affect my ability to make next month’s mortgage payment. And I understand that if I was making for a living, I would have far more sales venues in my schedule, i.e., diversify my revenue streams. Of course that is the catch-22, day job makes it difficult to do many more sales.
But what am I doing here? Why am I talking about money? I know the old saying – “making art for art’s sakes.” Yet I have bills to pay, no benefactor in sight, and would love to make pottery my full-time gig. So I think a lot about making a living as a potter. I admire those that are able to do so and have dreamed about doing it myself. But as life has changed over the last 6 or so months, I have realized that making pottery my sole income source is not realistic (it probably wasn’t before, but my eyes are more wide open). I won’t go into the boring details, but moving south to Floyd, VA and setting up a studio and a road sign, is just not an option.
This has been a really difficult pill to swallow. But I am getting more comfortable with it as I start thinking outside the box about making a living from the things I love. (Or is “outside the pot” more appropriate)? While I might never be able to earn my entire living from pottery, I can change my life to have greater flexibility so I can make more and better pots.
This brings me to my question for the week. How do you make a living? Whether a potter or an artist in another medium, where does your revenue/income come from? Common sources include:
- Home/studio gallery
- Craft Fairs
- Online sales
- Teaching – classes or workshops
I know this is a subject we don’t talk about in polite company, yet we all benefit from an honest conversation about these financial realities. I’m not asking for secret sales strategies by any means. At the end of the day, I still believe it is about the pot (although I am open to being proven wrong). Yet a potter can make the best pots in the world, but will never pay the bills with them unless they get out and sell them. So I’m curious, how do you sell yours?