Studio Potter Newsletter: A New Community of Potters

Studio Potter has a monthly newsletter! The amazing Molly Hatch (I seriously covet her work…) is the editor and she asked me to write something for it inspired by the theme of their upcoming issue: “Boundaries and the Digital World.” Studio Potter Magazine played a big part of getting me hooked on clay. There was always a stack of back issues in my college clay studio and was excited to be a part of this. I’m sharing what I wrote below, but don’t miss out on their next newsletter. It’s free to subscribe and only takes a minute. Even better, subscribe to this wonderful journal. You’ll read every issue cover to cover and will be left wishing it came out more than twice a year.

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From the new Studio Potter Newsletter:

This month we are excited to include a mini article from potter blogger Emily Murphy. Emily chose to write about her experience as a blogger which is a great preview to the ucoming isse: BOUNDARIES & The Digital World We encourage you to write in with your own thoughts on past or current themes from issues of SP. We would really like to hear what YOU are thinking!

A New Community of Potters

By Emily Murphy

In the past year, I have gone through a lot of life changes. Exciting but disruptive. After 10 years of living in Chicago and being part of the large, vibrant community of artists at Lillstreet Art Center, I moved to a new city, Minneapolis, bought a house and did a top to bottom renovation, built a studio, got married. One of the scariest parts of moving was leaving an incredible community of artists that I worked with on a daily basis. Lillstreet was the place where I taught classes, it was my social outlet, and it was a huge part of my professional identity. It was also how I sold the majority of my work.

Now I have a studio in my basement. A really wonderful studio, but there are no studio mates outside my door to ask for help when a kiln is acting up, borrow a pound of feldspar from or to have a coffee break with. And I definitely don’t have customers wandering through.

But, surprisingly, I don’t feel alone, I’m still in the presence of a large community of potters. When I needed help figuring out what kind of exhaust fan to get for my the spray booth I’m building, I have people to ask. When I’m asked to be in a show or had an image that was accepted to be published in a book, I have colleagues to share in my excitement. While I’m still without a kiln, I have people offering up space in their kilns so I can fire my work.

This is all because of the online community of potters that I have gotten to know over the years. I have been writing my Pottery Blog for nearly 7 years. More recently, I started a Facebook Fan Page to share more of the day to day thoughts, questions, events and interesting links. When I write, I try to put my truest self out there. Successes along with failures. Lots of technical information with a more personal side mixed throughout. The community of potters that I have come to think of as “my community” has grown and evolved over the years. We have daily interactions. Advice is shared and critiques are given back and forth. I recently posted a question on my page asking people what they think “success” means in the pottery world, and within a couple of hours got a dozen thought provoking responses. I had my afternoon coffee break while reading what others wrote, and sharing my own thoughts. When I don’t post to my blog for a while, I usually get some emails or even a phone call from people who I’ve never met before just checking in to make sure that I’m still out there.

But it’s not confined to the virtual world, it’s has spilled over into daily life too. I’ve been visiting studios, having coffee and firing kilns with new pottery blog writing and reading friends. Many times when I meet someone in person that I’ve been writing with back and forth for years, the meeting starts with a hug and it feels like I’m spending time with an old friend.

It’s easy online to present just one facet of yourself: to look like a professional, an artist, to use fancy language and to edit everything so it’s just right. But if you do you won’t find a community, you’ll just have a “presence”. Everyone talks about going overboard in putting yourself out there (the cliche “In line to get coffee” update) but the opposite is also true — you need to also get personal, to be off-topic sometimes, and if you don’t make mistakes sometimes then you aren’t doing it right. If you over share, or put out boring updates, or use language that is so casual as to be confusing, then be reflective and recognize and adjust; but don’t worry too much about exploring those boundaries. When you put yourself out there, you’re more likely to find a community.

Emily Murphy is a potter and blogger living in Minneapolis, MN. You can see more of her work on her website: http://emilymurphy.com/ or read more of her writing on her blog: http://potteryblog.com/

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Here’s a peak at Molly’s work. You can see why I covet thee…

13 thoughts on “Studio Potter Newsletter: A New Community of Potters

  1. Interesting stuff. The most important element of all you and anyone can do is to get your personality into your work. Blog, pottery and art should all reflect you and your personality. This is the essence of it all and you seem to be tapping into it in a great way. Keep up the good energy and thoughtfulness.

    Biv

  2. Emily-

    This is a wonderful reminder to view our online presence as an extension of our whole selves. The virtual world gives us this opportunity to present a scuplted avatar, but as the strength of your community shows, internet users (or at least the subset interested in your work) crave authenticity in connection, not just bits per second. I have to confess though, that reading this makes me miss sharing an actual studio with you more rather than less. At least for the role our friendship played while in the same workspace, I’ll still take the real thing any day.

    Yours
    Jordan

  3. Congratulations on the article. I especially like the “in line to get coffee” segment. It’s fun for me to read creative updates, it even helps me to feel connected with the author. Of course I think of my own creative updates when I can’t post them then forget about them when I’m near my computer.

    1. Hi Lori, I know what you mean. I forget so many good blogging thoughts by the time I reach the keyboard! That’s where I try to use twitter. I can quickly jot down my 140 character wisdom and send it to twitter via text message on my cell phone. Of course there’s always the chance that my “great idea” may later seem not so “bright” after all. But I leave that to my readers to sort out! [sorry kind reader]

  4. Congrats on the well written article; I have similar experiences recently with moving and remodeling and it is time consuming and stressful, but my blog has helped me connect with clay folks through it all. I think your clay blog was the first I ever read several years ago, so thanks for being there.

  5. hey emily,
    loved your post…it’s so true, and so nice to be able to form a community with other artists all over the world. love your blog…and, btw, i, and i’m sure many others, covet YOUR work!! :)
    –laura

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