Custom work begins with trust. A customer seeks an artist out as a means to translate their vision into something tangible. Success depends on two parties sharing the same vision. There is no doubt about it: custom work is the toughest thing out there. With ceramics, other factors come into play… cracking, kiln issues, glaze problems and the biggest one – the client doesn’t share your vision and is unhappy with the final product…. BUT, this is a happy story!
The journey for a set of six plates began some time ago with the sample on the right not the sample on the left.
As I reflect back on this experience, I am reminded about a personal quest to translate my own vision into the tangible. Umpteen years ago, I was re-modelling my kitchen and choosing a tile. I really struggled with the decision and ended up going with a white novelty tile surrounded by solid white tiles. A few years later, I was in a neighbor’s kitchen and noticed that she had the same novelty tile in her kitchen, but each tile was a different color. I thought to myself, I should have chosen those tiles; they seemed to say so much more about who I am.
How does my story relate to this order? …. Sample one is safe (the white tile choice), but sample two is personal (the colored tile). Either choice works.
A custom order is all about understanding a request and translating it successfully.
When I understood what was really sought after, I went from sample one, a white plate with a foamy white rim wheel thrown with white stoneware, to sample two, an earthy nutmeg colored plate wheel thrown with a mix of different stoneware clays to incorporate speckles. Sample two was in fact a better choice and one that came as a happy surprise to my client. Once the sample was approved, the artist becomes the potter and the hard labor ensues.
The vision was shared by the customer and the journey was a success.