Supporting oneself as an artist is not exactly easy. In fact, ceramic artists are the hardest working people I know. It takes a whole lot of motivation and sacrifice to get a ceramic business off the ground. Clever marketing strategies don’t hurt either!
If you’ve been brainstorming ceramic business ideas or have been looking for advice on how to start a ceramic business, today’s post is for you. In this excerpt from the March/April 2017 issue of Pottery Making Illustrated, Sarah Wolf explains how a great marketing idea, similar to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, sometimes called a farm share), helped her get through school and remains an important part of her ceramic business. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.
PS. Check out this post from the archives for more great advice on starting a pottery business.
A Strategy for Paying for Art School Helps Pottery Business Succeed
by Sarah Wolf
I started the Mug Club about a year and a half ago to raise money for my art-school tuition and it rapidly evolved into a key foundation of my budding ceramics business. Besides providing periodic revenue, the Mug Club cultivates one of the most valuable things a business could ask for: ongoing connections with my customers. For over a year now, the Mug Club has been perpetually sold out with a cap of 50 members, though I am gradually opening more spaces.
In her videos Fundamentals of Wheel Throwing and Intermediate Wheel Throwing, Jennifer Allen covers everything you need to know to develop good throwing habits and build your throwing prowess. From prepping your clay, wedging, centering, and making cylinders, to trimming, making bottles, pitchers, jars and lids, Jennifer shares techniques and tricks that will help the beginning and intermediate potter strengthen their skills.
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How It Works
The Mug Club is like a wine club or CSA (community supported agriculture). Members pay upfront for a year’s subscription, which buys four mugs (or four pairs of mugs) to be received over the course of the subsequent year. I make and distribute Mug Club mugs each March, June, September, and December, and each season brings a new mug design.
It’s a Win-Win
Beyond building a base of loyal customers and a sense of community around my business, the Mug Club is simply fun. It’s fun for me because I get to create new designs, knowing that I’ve already sold them, and then practice putting them into production. This has helped me grow as a potter and a designer. The Mug Club is fun for its members because they get the surprise of receiving a new and different mug each season, along with the satisfaction of supporting a small business.