Recently, Jason and I headed to Orlando to attend “Maximum Capacity” – a show featuring 32 artists from our alma mater, the University of Central Florida, who are about to receive their Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees.  (As a side note:  This was a wonderful show and we are amazed at the stunning amount of talent just getting ready to emerge from UCF’s BFA Program.)  While at the show, we spoke with some of the upcoming graduates and faculty and were reminded that we all ask the same question when emerging from university art programs:  “Now what?”

For some, the answer is to move to return to university for a post-Baccalaureate or Master of Fine Arts Program.  For others, moving on to residency program – or a series of residency programs – is the answer, while others are ready to jump into their careers as studio artists.  I suppose the answer for each of us lies with our ultimate goals as artists – do we want to pursue our art full time or would we like the ability to teach a new generation of artists?

The St. Petersburg Clay Company

Jason and I were still wrestling with this question when we stumbled across the St. Petersburg Clay Company (SPCC) during a quick 4th of July weekend stay in St. Petersburg.  As it happened, they were just in the process of moving into their current facility at the Historic Seaboard Train Depot.  (Full disclosure:  as former Marketing Coordinator of SPCC, I cannot help but refer to everything by its formal title or initials.)  We were excited to become member artists at this new clay facility and eventually went on to become Artists-In-Residence (AIRs) as the program was just coming into fruition and then full-time staff members.  We cannot imagine another time or place so full of opportunities – we were able to shape the formation of the fledgling AIR along with the other first-generation AIRs, we saw how to run a for-profit ceramic studio/gallery from its early days in the new building, and we grew as artists through the connections we made with all the brilliant clay artists we had the benefit of meeting (both visiting artists and fellow AIRs) during our time there.

When we left SPCC at the end of 2006, we were once again faced with a choice:  head to graduate school or become full-time artists in our home studio.  The economic downturn led us down another path – full-time day jobs with ceramics as our night jobs.  But, as we start to see the economy turn slowly around, we are happily back to that place where we can resume our transition to full-time artists. 

Jennifer and Jason in their home studio

We just started our next “Now what?” moment.  We are resolved to make the transition, but we must individually decide if our focus will be on the wholesale market, retail/outdoor shows, juried gallery shows, or internet sales and what proportion of each we will be pursuing.  Eventually, we hope to open our own studio/gallery, and when that time comes I expect the question will pop up again.  I am looking forward to it.  It is always an adventure.  Now what?

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