A couple of weeks ago,Tracey Broome tsbroome.blogspot.com questioned why people will go to a festival and spend $10.00 for a blooming onion and a soda and then say they love your pottery but can't afford anything. Both purchases will stay with you forever.One will eventually make you feel guilty, one will bring back memories of meeting an artist and learning how something beautiful is created from the most humble materials.
This post is not really about selling or not selling well but rambling is what bloggers do. What I really wanted to talk about is not how artists enrich our lives but courage. The courage it takes to make your way in the world by inspiration and perspiration without a safety net. My wife and I are blessed (well, blessed by 30 years of hard work) with a retirement income and access to affordable insurance. I can sell pots or break pots and still get by. I am awed by the determination of all the potters, painters ,and pickers out there that struggle year after year with their success or failure riding on their next show.Their talents are dependent on a market that can be crushed by something as common as traffic problems or bad weather.
I have had two potter friends beat colon cancer in the last year. Neither had insurance. They beat cancer but not the healthcare system. They will carry the debt forever. Another friend fell on the ice and knocked herself out last winter. No insurance, no doctor visit. Suck it up. Tough it out. It will probably stop hurting eventually. Yet they continue.Other friends make their sole living from shows and kiln openings. They have minimal insurance and pay $600 a month or so for coverage.That's out of their net, after the show fees, travel expenses, clay, and utility bills. That's a lot of pottery folks. Yet they continue. Most drive old cars or trucks that they cannot afford to repair and live where they struggle to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer. Yet they continue. Some are trying to pay off $100,000 educations with $12,000 incomes. Yet they continue. With all the risk and all the uncertainty, they all continue. They continue to enrich our lives and enhance our happiness.
One of my friends has been a "successful" country potter for over 30 years. Success means she has paid her bills, not that she has become rich. She makes gorgeous pots but that in itself is not enough. Strangers find their way to her Gallery/Studio and friends leave. I love to see her greet the public and watch them leave with an armload of pots. I really feel that they are paying for the memory of the day and the pot is a reminder of the warmth and hospitality they felt when they were there. Because they like that feeling, they return later for a booster shot and become regulars. They may not know that we feel as good as they do and maybe that's why we continue.
CBS had a segment on the Early Show this morning suggesting that people would gain more happiness if they shifted their discretionary spending from buying " things " to buying "memories" and experiences. I know a lot of people who can hook them up with both.
Thanks for listening.