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Ceramic Arts and Ceramics


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What to Expect

Creativity and self-discipline are key traits for any ceramics student.

Gregory Yee Fong worked on his master of fine arts degree (M.F.A.) at San Diego Mesa College. Ceramics classes, he says, are very relaxed.

"The professor we have always has a demonstration at the beginning of class, either on the wheel or hand building. And then he turns us loose. If you're an individual who [needs] a lot of direction and hand-holding, then it's probably not a good program to go into."

Lisa Bissett studied for a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) degree with a concentration in ceramics. "My goal is to be a practicing potter," she says. She hopes to make functional ware, like plates and bowls.

Through the ceramics club at her school, Bissett sold some of her stuff. "It's sort of validating that what you've been making someone else would like to have and enjoy."

Bissett says ceramics students should explore other media to make sure clay is the right one for them. Originally, she thought she was going to be a painter. "And then I discovered clay!" she remembers. "You can sculpt, you can build, you can do functional stuff. You can paint on it, draw on it -- there's always, always something to learn."

What was lacking in Bissett's program, however, was an emphasis on the business of art. She believes ceramics students should learn about owning a studio and selling their work. She did a couple of informational interviews with potters to learn more about their work.

Survival Tips

Prepare to be frustrated, disappointed and patient. "You very rarely get instant self-gratification...and you're stuck with what whatever the kiln decides to do with your piece," says Yee Fong. "It can be a really frustrating experience, as well as a really rewarding one."

Don't let the frustration get to you, he adds. "Be gentle with yourself and don't get discouraged too quickly...because there's so many more benefits to it than there are pitfalls."

How to Prepare

High school students, says Bissett, "should definitely be getting their portfolio together." They should also be prepared to do some writing. Art history papers and proposals are still part of studying art.


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