Potter from another planet

Tony Clennell wrote a nice little blog post that started with his condolences to me for the loss of my dad. He continued the essay with examples of a mentee and a teacher friend who both have experienced some recent obstacles to their creative practice, and he encouraged us all to stay true to our voices, to not flag just because the world is somehow now standing in our way. Its good advice, and a nice companion piece to the essay I wrote about finding motivation during the times we don’t feel like making.

In his comments in the share on facebook Tony wondered if he had to be stupid more than daring to stand up and take the beatings he’s received as a potter. “Is it daring or just my stupidity? Sometimes I’m not sure of my footing but I plod on.” My response was:

I think stubbornness, Tony. Daring is overrated. The important thing is not the risk but the determination to follow through. And I’d never say ‘stupid’, but I don’t think its strange to walk through mine fields to do what you need to do. Ignoring things others turn their lives upside down over is sometimes what it takes to be a creative soul. On the flip side, we also tend to move mountains for things that others can’t even see. As I say, daring and stupid generally have nothing to do with it. Its more like we come from a different planet and just don’t fit the reality others walk in. Or so it often seems to me 🙂

Creative folks like us are sometimes strangers to the world we are born into. We don’t get what others find so important, and mostly others don’t really get what we are trying to say, the things we want to talk about, the things we find important. If that’s a problem we maybe need to get a ‘real’ job and spend our time chasing the marketplace, chasing the trends, chasing what society wants us to be, rather than camped out in our studios obsessed with discovering fascinating things about shape and color, process and technique, surface and design, that only our own imagination and unique experience of the world can give us access to. We step into our studios, and at the same time we step away from ‘normal’ society. You can’t spend that much time wrapped up in your own imagination and not create some distance to a world for which most parents will tell their kids to not grow up to be an artist…..

Daring would be dropping a normal life for a creative one. Stupid would be not listening to the voice that is inside you. Once you have acknowledged that you have something unique to say, and that expressing this is part of your reason for being here, you have accepted that you may come from a different place than most folks. You have accepted that you may be a potter from another planet….

Peace all!

Happy potting!

Make beauty real!


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.
This entry was posted in Art, Beauty, Ceramics, Creative industry, Creativity, Imagination, metacognition, Pottery. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Potter from another planet

  1. Stephen says:

    The alarm rings at 6-7 so you can be at a building at 10 before starting a 9 hour shift doing something, hopefully somewhat interesting to u, and eating one of your meals. Once you get back home at 6, 6:30 and unwind a little, eat and say hi to everyone it’s time to retire and do it all again tomorrow. This is your lot and you most likely chose it. Now you may not have chose this exact outcome but along the way you made all the decisions that lead to that alarm going off when it does. You have several folks depending on you to deliver a paycheck every week, 1500, maybe 2,3 grand depending on your exact lot, and everything else stems from that check. The house, the car or cars, vacations, schools, food, clothes, pretty much all of it, depends on that check, is based on that check. Hey not every 22 year old was smart enough to get a fine arts degree. The rest of us have to figure it out as we go.

    no one has called it daring yet but hey maybe that’s what they are thinking 🙂

    • When you put it like that I think it goes even beyond daring! Suicidal even, maybe…..

      Perhaps the thing is like you say, that we don’t make daring decisions, one by one, knowing all that we risk on the throw of that die, but that once we are ‘all in’ we get to face up to the real consequences of our choices and the huge responsibility we have landed ourselves in. If just one throw goes against us we stand to lose so very much…. That can be scary as sh-t, I agree! Just finding the nerve to sleep at night could even be a form of heroism…..

      I guess its true that daring is every bit a part of almost any life style, and I was wrong to minimize that. Potters from other planets have, perhaps, as little understanding of the consequences of their doing things a certain way as the person slowly adding responsibility and debt through incremental choices, calling each bet that is placed. It may not always seem daring in the act, but living that life itself is worthy of some respect and appreciation if only for the boldness of standing up in front of the tsunami of things that could tear us down….

      Good points, Srephen!

  2. Linda Starr says:

    wonderful, look forward to their response

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