Ceramics and Social Media Applications

The ceramic industry includes a diverse group of potters similar to the social media landscape. Most common communication channels will consist of announcements, pictures of work or events, blogs, and videos. The traditional social media landscape comprises of Twitter and Facebook, but over the past two years there has been significant growth on Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google+. Quite often potters will report they don’t own a computer and if they do own one they don’t have an email address, so social media escapes a large majority of the community. But for the potters involved in the social media channels, they are using these tools to show and tell their art as well as develop and discover their talent (Zimmerman, 2014).

The professional ceramicist can be found in museums, art centers and galleries noted in a recent industry poll from NCECA , known as the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (Bracker, 2015). This group of potters favors Facebook and Twitter. This gives them a strong platform for promoting their website and next gallery or museum showings.

There is the production potter, who produces their ware in volume, whom will post on Facebook especially directing fans to their website.  They can often be found on forums and online communities. They are contributing to the ceramic industry evolution with discussions on clay and ceramic issues, offering advice, writing reviews of ceramic products and sharing global ceramic industry news. The production potter would be the known as the Critics on the Social Technographics Ladder (Li & Bernoff, 2011).

The studio potter is not production but more serious than a hobbyist by making a full time living selling their work. They are the Creators on the Social Technographics Ladder making the most contribution to the social media landscape. They will use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to push the consumer to their studio. These social media networks are free and can draw a good amount of interaction. The studio potter might post a promotion on Twitter or Facebook giving away a new ceramic mug like Joel of Cherrico Pottery to engage and invite the consumer to “Like” their page, build their brand, and follow their studio (Birkholz, 2015). The studio potter can be found on YouTube demonstrating, teaching and engaging other potters, artistic students, and viewers such as Master Potter Bill Van Gilder.

The hobby potter or leisure clay artist, one who works with clay for enjoyment, occasionally sells their work on a smaller scale like Etsy or local event. They can be found on Pinterest pinning works of the professional or average potters. Since they are not as involved on social media for promotion of their goods, they would be considered the joiners or spectators of the Social Technographics Ladder. As joiners they are interested in visiting the social networks for inspiration, Facebook pages of ceramic vendors like Stone Leaf Pottery to learn about products, and following their favorite ceramic groups like Amaco’s Potters Choice Exchange for tips and techniques (Sophia, 2015). As a spectator they are more likely to be involved in watching videos of ceramic demonstrations, read blogs from the studio potters, and being influenced by reviews by the professional ceramicist or average potters.

clay-social-media-icons

Social Media networks offer potters a vast level of publicity, the widening of consumer target market, and a growth in social interaction for and among the ceramic professionals, studio potters and leisure clay artists. By expanding their social media landscape from the more traditional sites such as Twitter and Facebook, they can amplify their exposure with Instagram and Google+. Not only do social media networks increase the potter’s audience, it offers the building of ceramic communities. Potter Adam Field used Instagram effectively to pull in consumers and widen his audience by creating a scavenger hunt involving ceramic objects. The idea behind the scavenger hunt was “to create a groundswell of community that would encourage sharing information, techniques, and inspiration”  (Johnson, 2014). As more potters become comfortable with the new form of marketing, social media can help them get their name and products out there at a very minimal cost.

Resources:

Birkholz, J. (2015). Cosmic Mug Giveaway, Laughing Squid Feature, And Mainstream Art Ambitions. Cherrico Pottery. Retrieved from: http://www.cherricopottery.com/category/social-media/

Bracker, C. (2015). Who Are We? NCECA. Retrieved from: http://blog.nceca.net/inside-nceca-vol-i-issue-13

Johnson, G. (2014). Hide-N-Seekah!Using Social Medial for a Pottery Scavenger Hunt. Ceramics Arts Daily. Retrieved from: http://ceramicartsdaily.org/ceramic-art-and-artists/ceramic-artists/hide-n-seekah-using-social-media-for-a-pottery-scavenger-hunt/

Li, C.  & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell. Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing.

Social Media Page. (2015). Facebook’s Potters Choice Exchange. Stone Leaf Pottery. Retrieved from: http://stoneleafpottery.com/category/social-media/

Zimmerman, C. (2014). How Artists Can Use Social Media to Discover and Promote Their Voice. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carlota-zimmerman/how-artists-can-use-socia_b_4756824.html

Hath not the potter power over the clay?

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I can hear Jed Bartlet, President of the United States in the TV series West Wing, in my head “I’ve read my bible from cover to cover, so, I want you to tell me, from what part of holy scripture do you. . .” as I hang up the phone after talking to a southern male potter. I talk to potters all day. I get paid to do it. And they always have a story to tell or an opinion to share. Yesterday as no different.

This Louisiana gentleman was bantering in his charming drawl with me as older gentleman like my fathers age do. They are harmless and I think to myself when I am talking to them someone out there is being entertained by my father and I would want them to give him that respect. He asked me about the comparison between two pottery wheels. Now, I am knowledgeable enough to spout a few things, after all I have been doing this for 15 years professionally; and he knew that. He could tell I knew the specs and the speech so he asked “Do you pot?” I told him I have thrown; but I don’t care for the wheel. “You don’t care for the wheel?” He asks shocked, appalled then disappointed, “Well then little lady what do you with clay?” I verbally scooped up the clay from splash pan and said, “Well, sir, I am an extrudist.”  I might as well said I was a nudist. “Huh.” He said shortly and thanked me for my time and information.

After letting the conversation set up in the back of my mind, getting leather hard in my head, I thought about Jed and how he like to quote from the Bible. “I’ve read my bible from cover to cover, so, I want you to tell me, from what part of holy scripture do you. . .” get the right to judge me as a potter. This happens often with people who touch clay. Now, I don’t think this gentleman meant any harm or was judging me; but there have been others over the years who have.

The politics and hierarchy in clay astounds me. There is the ceramist, the potter, the clay hobbyist, the slipcaster, the China painters, and anyone else that has dabbled with clay in their lifetime. Are we not all potters? Do we not all honor the clay, create from inspiration, manipulate the mud or glaze to produce goods for all or for fun?

I can hear Jed in my head doing one of those wonderful speeches he so often casted. I can  hear him quote from Romans 9:21 while walking with his hands in his pockets, “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and another unto dishour?” Just because we play with mud doesn’t mean we need to smear each others craft. We are all potters in our own right, doing an honest deed and paying it forward with our gift and talent to create a piece of art from the earth and mixed with water, passion and inspiration, like Jed Bartlet.