Well, here’s hoping that spring has sprung wherever you live. I think for most of us in North America, this winter put us on lock down. Now, before you go rolling your eyes because I’m talking about the weather in my editor’s column, hear me out. Weather is something we all have in common, and because of its intensity this winter, it has affected many of us more intensely than usual. It’s affected everything from business to politics to our personal health and lives. So here is why I’m talking about it:
I periodically do some cold calling to subscribers who have let their subscriptions lapse, just to get an honest sense of why they chose not to renew, and if there is something in the mix of what we’re presenting that could be improved. Don’t worry if I ever call you about this; I’m pretty nice about it, and I’m not even set up to take your money, so I’m not trying to sign you up again. This winter and spring, what I mostly heard was that folks were simply overwhelmed, busy, and checked out. More than half simply forgot to renew, or meant to but didn’t, or had so much going on that they just let it slip by. But all of them mentioned the weather as a contributing factor, which has never happened before. It was a real eye-opener for me, because the reasons are usually based on finances or content, or that there is just too much demand on their time.
And we’re not just dealing with this as magazine publishers and readers, we’re all dealing with it as makers as well; how do we get enough time in the studio, enough time to keep the books, market our work, sell what we make? These are some of the questions we try to deal with in Ceramics Monthly, that we discuss as possible topics for content and issues in the field that matter to most of us. But there is, at the end of the day, a larger issue that we all have in common—like the weather—that influences how we approach ceramics, and that is how to find a way to ignore all of these details and just focus on our clay work and produce work that we are proud of and that represents us in the world—which, after all, is the start and end of all of this. We have this question in common, but the solutions are as different as each of us.
One of the most encouraging signs I see that indicates people are able to address this concern is that we continue to see talented, dedicated people entering the field and making work that is personal, refined, and honest. Take a look through this year’s Emerging Artists (starting on page 45) and I think you’ll agree. For some of them, the answer is finding residencies that will allow them time and space to focus on their work, for some it’s making the most of whatever bits of time and space they can carve out at home. Regardless of the specifics, it’s clear that each of them has made a conscious choice to make clay a priority in their lives. This sounds like such a simple thing, but we each struggle with it every day. I, for one, am taking the examples set by this year’s Emerging Artists as inspiration to rededicate myself in the studio. I am looking to reconnect to clay in a way that is personally honest, that will make the most of the time I have in the studio, and that will focus on what will make me the most satisfied with my clay work. For me, this means clearing some clutter, limiting the palette, and focusing on just one thing at a time.
Of course, if we do this right, none of us will ever be totally satisfied in the studio, but I would encourage each of you to consider what that would look like for you. Simply having that ideal in your mind can help move you toward it. And if there is something we can do here at CM to move you toward it—short of making spring come sooner—I trust you will let me know.—Sherman Hall, editor.
Check out the rest of the May 2014 issue!