It's incredibly difficult trying to mingle what you love with what you do. It's especially difficult when those two things aren't at all related.
When I began the transition from beginner to intermediate-level potter, one of my first instructors said to me, "there's no money to be made in pottery." That was quickly reinforced as I began talking with other ceramic artists outside of the Austin community. Actually let me expound on that. It CAN be done and it HAS been done, but with great sacrifice, a little financial windfall, a fair amount of luck and a ton of blood, sweat, tears and clay. What makes the odds difficult are the same variables that make the pursuit of any small business artistic venture difficult. It's not just making work people want. It's the materials required to produce it. The time and skill required to market it. The effort and administration required to manage it. It's also having a strong enough foundation to jump start it with some funds that probably didn't come from that clay habit you've indulged. Just establishing your own studio - kilns, glazes, chemicals, utilities, etc...is enough to make you shake your head.
I classify myself as a "hobby potter." I get in the studio on the weekends. It is effectively my part-time job that I am madly in love with. Friday morning I leap from the bed in an incredible mood because I know that the following day I will wake early, put on my mud wear, and do what I love. By Sunday afternoon, I feel the melancholy seep in. The quiet mourning as I feel the sun set on my happy place and I begin the countdown to work that still keeps me on my toes, but puts no fire in my heart.
Do pottery full time! Is always what people who haven't tried to do pottery full time, suggest. It pays for itself - but it doesn't pay me any meaningful wage. Nothing close to the wage I am accustomed to. And that is okay - because I have a career. A career I have groomed and nursed fastidiously after my college days were done. But now...the illusion of career aspiration is something I'm too wise to allow my ego to fall for. I've done good work. I'm proud that I can say I've always given my best effort in any role I've had. But I'm not twenty-five anymore and I'm no longer looking for someone to spot my talent and hand me the keys to the front office so I can prove my worth. At this point in my life, I have all the professional validation I require and I'm smart enough to know my worth can't be measured in an annual performance review. I don't want the expectation that to be a valuable asset, you must be willing to work 80 hours per week. I don't believe in that anymore. My career doesn't define me. It is the way in which I provide for myself. I'm grateful for that and limited by that at the same time.
When I am no longer here...I hope I am remembered for something very different than my ability to put together a marketing strategy. I'd like to be remembered for my convictions, my heart...and hopefully, the elements of me that go into the love I make with my own two hands every weekend. That's where I am these days.
There may be no money in pottery...but for me, there is certainly wealth. So it's time to reevaluate how to make my two worlds more peacefully coexist.