Salon des refuses

Each year the fabulous AKAR gallery has a Yunomi invitational show, collecting an assortment of 5 pots each from both established and upcoming clay artists. Quite often the exhibit is sensational, and usually sells through the bulk of its inventory within several hours of opening online. Its a great opportunity for artists to get exposure and a great opportunity for pottery lovers to see some familiar and extraordinary things. I typically come away with at least a handful of design ideas that I let percolate through my imagination.

But all that glamour and sensation comes as the result of the big wheels of AKAR’s gallery momentum driving things forward. Thank the clay gods that there are at least some such institutions able to spread the word about pottery goodness!

And then there’s etsy…..

At etsy your exposure is based most often on one’s ability to either drive customers to your shop from outside links or to a continual campaign of seeking higher placement in the site’s searches. If there were only 5 pots, then each one would be visible no matter what. Instead, there are 127,113 items (as of my writing this) in ceramics and pottery, 17,378 bowls, 17,238 cups, 11,594 vases, and 9,129 plates. And the longer its been since you re-upped on the listing the further down in the search you will be found. So also, the more people listing things the less effective it becomes overall. If all 17,238 cups were relisted on a single day, the first person to have done so would be back at the end of the search!

Which suits etsy just fine. The more desperate we artists are to be seen the more money they make. And the more desperate we are, the more of us listing things, the more that competition actually diminishes the value of what we are buying. So we spend more more often to make up the difference….. Its a spiralling cycle that gets us nowhere fast. Unless we play the game all out and non stop (and everyone else is not also doing the same!), of course….

So there’s a lot for customers to look through (Wade through really, when you consider the quality of some amateur offerings….). And with the AKAR show now online I was curious to see what etsy had in the way of comparable items. It turns out there are 1,916 items listed as tea bowls, and also 532 listed as yunomis, and some of them are quite excellent. If people knew to look on etsy for ‘yunomi’ there would be a mere 14 pages to scroll through, and plenty of real gems unearthed!

But I’ll save you the trouble. I took some time the other day to go through the 48 pages of tea bowls and select out some of my favorites. There are some big name artists and some little name artists. There are prices that beggar the mind and there are humble affordable prices. I put as many of them as I could in ‘treasury’ listings so that folks could find them more easily outside the basic search. This is what I came up with. Hope you enjoy!

Salon des refuses II: etsy’s answer to the AKAR Yunomi show

About Carter Gillies

I am an active potter and sometime pottery instructor who is fascinated by the philosophical side of making pots, teaching these skills, and issues of the artistic life in general. I seem to have a lot to say on this blog, but I don't insist that I'm right. I'm always trying to figure stuff out, and part of that involves admitting that I am almost always wrong in important ways. If you are up for it, please help me out by steering my thoughts in new and interesting directions. I always appreciate the challenge of learning what other people think.
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6 Responses to Salon des refuses

  1. zygote says:

    First off I feel I need to issue a disclaimer…. I am an Etyhoovian.
    An unapologetic one at that. I signed up in 2007 as part of an “in house” crash course in computer literacy and got a whole lot more. Despite my initial misgivings about it’s rummage sale flavor, it has been the best way to actively learn how to push my way out into a real world market. It’s definitely not a post and sell mill. Easy success doesn’t visit many, but watching the ones that do make it work for them, it’s become apparent that a whole lotta hard work is behind that success.
    Talking work into the kiln is easy… talking work out the door, that’s the trick.
    I find it easiest to think of Etsy as a interactive portfolio. Someplace I can link customers to so they can browse through works and purchase at their leisure.
    Is it worth it? Hell yeah!!! Entering an exhibition costs upwards of $50 bucks after fees and shipping (I’m not including their sales % because so many shows don’t sell any of the works despite having price tags). The shows exposure is most often limited to those that walk in the front door and who knows if they even looked at your work.
    Etsy… for under 6 bucks you can set up a private exhibition of your work. Put it up on-line, interact with customers, make transactions that actually feel safe and sound… and (this is the part I really like) you can see what work gets peoples attention by the number of views. It’s a streamlined in the can service.
    I think I got off topic… drat!

    • Well said, Zygote!

      If there were “like” or “little red heart shaped” buttons, I would certainly join in this salon. But as it stands, I’m due at another blog shortly. 😉

      • Well said indeed!

        What you can do if you have time at some point is to click on the link to the etsy treasury and ‘like’ it there. That way the folks in your circle (or who have you in their circle, I can’t remember which) will get it in their feed and see what’s going on. These are some really talented artists and some great pots. Help spread the word!

    • No, I think you are absolutely right, and it especially makes a difference if you can drive customers to your shop from elsewhere.

      Speaking of which, every time I try to get a peek at YOUR etsy shop, Joel, it comes up empty! I think I forgot to hassle you about this before, but let me do so now: Where’s the beef?!

      • zygote says:

        I’m enjoying a life in transition. Moving my family, my studio, and making some readjustments. In the meantime I’ve been thoroughly enjoying shepherding a few very talented local students into a promising new future. I’m learning so much from their enthusiasm!

        • Yay!

          Yeah, I’ve been looking over your e-shoulder as you pack-up, pick-up, and settle back down. I am extremely hopeful that you can get the ball back rolling in your new studio with as little inconvenience as possible. But I’m also delighted to hear about the students you are giving your time to! I discovered a few years ago that teaching was so important to me that if I never end up making it as a selling artist I would still be satisfied creatively if I had the chance to teach. Thankfully there is a great community arts center in Athens, and my boss is super generous in letting me handle a few classes per session. If that well dried up I’m not sure what I’d do at this point…..

          So congrats on the students, and best wishes for your new studio life!

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