Thursday, July 30, 2009


Whose Pot is This?

It is reoccurring theme that appears on CLAYART discussion list as well as many other pages on the internet.

"Can anyone tell me who made this pot?".

Most of the time no one knows. Even fellow potters.

I find this most puzzling.

Artists who work in two dimensions nearly always sign their work. It is expected to find a signature or distinctive mark in the corner or on the reverse.

So why don't potters do the same? Granted, we do not seem to have the same copyright issues of artists who could have their work reproduced in print form. But does that make it really any different? And we have considerably less space to work with for applying our signatures.

We in the West have been heavily influenced by oriental craftsmen over a long course of time and, the mystique of 'the unknown craftsman or artisan' has been associated in tandem with the aesthetic.

It seems to me to be a sort of dreamy romanticism that doesn't serve the artist of today. And believe me, the modern craftsmen of Japan as well as the rest of the world does not seek to be anonymous.

Identity = Income these days. Branding plays an enormous part in marketing just about anything. And any savvy artist who wants to make an income on their work must market it in the face of stiff competition.

The first step, of course, is to master your art--that goes without saying. Quality work speaks for itself. Sometimes style can be so distinctive that it renders signatures redundant, but not that often. And it's a mighty long road to THAT destination, I can tell you. You still are in the clutches of the publicity monster no matter how you cut it.

Note: A few minutes' search on the web resulted in these images.
The pots are marked, but the marks are not enough to identify the maker.

Take a look at the bold signature beautifuly incorporayed into the design on English artist Sandy Brown's platter. Believe me, everyone knows who made that piece.

Or you could take the Robert Arneson tack and just do portraits of yourself and/or use your name prominently.

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