I call this a "vacation pot" because it's not the type of work I make for my business's inventory needs. In fact, this is a ball-and-chain in terms of business value. These oversized pieces take up so much space in my studio and kilns. They are cumbersome to pack and transport, and tough to sell! My customer base is looking for everyday functional wares. Not many of them have this much available space in their homes. I'll be happy if I sell it before the end of the year.
This doesn't stop me from making pots like this when I have free time. It's important to indulge the non-business areas of my brain sometimes. I have a running list of idea that I want to explore and attempt.
Does it bother me that, as a creative person, I don't get to do this more often? No. Not even a little bit.
Indulgences only mean something if they are limited in opportunity. If you indulge yourself all the time, the value disappears. I get annoyed when someone declares that being an artist means they are entitled to indulge their creativity at will. I want to say "That doesn't make you an artist. That makes you a brat." Pick any artist you admire, and behind the scenes you'll find that they treat their work like work. Structure, standards, linear processes, repetition, consistency.
There is no loss of creativity in this. The opposite is true. This approach grows your creativity into something better and stronger.
"I think the real free person in society is the one that's disciplined." -Dean Smith
Baseball is my favorite sport, and college basketball is my second favorite sport. When legendary coach Dean Smith passed away in 2015, columnist/author Sally Jenkins appeared on the Tony Kornheiser Show (my favorite podcast) to talk about Smith. She explained the above quote. He was referring to players who are fresh out of high school, exceptionally talented, but full of themselves. Products of overpraising and a lack of discipline. He tried to teach these players that the so-called "freedom" of taking every shot that you want to take, in a self-aggrandizing fashion, doesn't lead you anywhere. You won't win games with that approach. On the other hand, if you learn to play within the structure of a team, your talent will yield actual accomplishments. The more accomplishments you accumulate over time, the more opportunities materialize for you, from which you can choose your future. That's real freedom.
If you are fortunate enough to have talent, channeling your talent into a structure is so much more valuable than indulging your whims. After years of working this way, I have gathered some big accomplishments, such as being published in national magazines, and being in the Smithsonian Craft Show. And my work now yields a reliable income, which might be the biggest accomplishment of all. I see what these things have brought to my life. I am free to make only pots that follow my aesthetic values and nobody else's. I am free from having a boss. I am free to choose whom I will work with, and whom I'm won't. I am in charge of my own schedule. I have cool opportunities presented to me all the time. I am free to say "no" and I say "no" to most of them. I say "yes" only when something really makes sense.
(I can think of other analogies between professional athletes and professional artists. These may pop up in future blog posts.)
So this is the perspective from which I view an "indulgence" such as making a giant, unsellable pot from a purely artistic and egoistic motivation. I am grateful that my life includes time for this, however limited. The idea that I should feel "stifled" because I don't have more time for this, given that my daily life contains so many important forms of freedom, seems crazy to me.