New website, new followers and new attention. I've gotten lots of requests for preorders, custom orders, etc. It's awesome. but at the same time, it's not.
That has been the ongoing theme of my life for the last few months. My plate is full, like many of us. And I've been doing what I can to get through it all but as life goes, my plate keeps getting new things added to it, and my appetite is just not the same as it was.
Probably best to introduce myself and let everyone know what's going on in my tiny brain.
I live in Southern California in the shadows of the Magic Kingdom, and I've lived in SoCal for most of my life. I am married with 2 kids, 4 and 6 years old boys, and 2 dogs. For the last 18 years I have been a high school ceramics teacher. When everyone goes to bed or the occasional weekend I spend as much time as I can in the garage making things out of clay. Teaching has always paid the bills, and I have had a great time teaching and sharing my love and passion for ceramics with young people, but making it as a ceramic artist has always been the dream. And over the last couple years it's really started to pick up momentum.
In March of 2019 I made the first sneakermug. Here it is:
I made a few different versions of Nike and Vans inspired mugs and realized that I was onto something. I abandoned previous bodies of work and dove into the idea of making this my thing with everything I had. Over the next 2 years or so I continually made the same mugs with subtle little changes and refinement of the process, and each “Sneakermug Sunday” was a huge success.
I made it. I was a sell out. I could make pottery and people would buy it up immediately. It's everything I wanted out of the situation and justified all the thousands of hours I had spent making pottery “for fun”
Then February 12, 2021 happened:
To say it was a traumatic experience would be an understatement. But no one was hurt. And there is nothing to do to change what happened, so life goes on. But still. This sucks. Like lose all your shit and being temporarily homeless suck.
But life goes on… at least that's what I keep telling myself. The support and response from the ceramics community was overwhelmingly positive and supportive. I am forever grateful for the love and kindness shown by everyone immediately after the fire. I don't know what we would have done without the support of others.
But still life goes on, and we went from a temporary living situation at a Residence Inn to a rental house. My kids went back to school, my wife and I went back to work, life went back to “normal.” Whatever that means in Covid times. Next we began with the long process of rebuilding our house (story for another day), and as soon as I could I built a little ceramics studio in the garage of the rental house. And got on with life and settled into our new house, new commute, new cars, etc….
As we settled into our new normal and finished the academic school year I once again started making pottery at night when everyone is asleep. Truly the “me time” I needed to take a break from the rest of reality and try to feel normal again. Unfortunately I have not felt like my old self for a while. I've learned that trauma is something that gets processed differently for everyone. I have since developed some major league anxiety and depression over the last few months. It was in the background for the last few years, but with the fire situation it has really been amplified. Coming back into the school year has been challenging as well. Ask most anyone that is in the world of education and they will probably tell you that it's not the same as it was pre-Covid. Students are different. At least some have a very different attitude towards school and education. A career change looks more appealing now than it ever has. Though I'm not jumping ship anytime soon, but its something I think about. A lot. But for now I'm back in the classroom everyday teaching high school ceramics.
Back to sneakermugs…..
So over the summer I made about 40 pieces that I was planning on having for sale on Labor Day weekend. I never had the Labor day weekend sale. The pieces did not get finished because the new school year slowed me down and I just kind of lost my spark. Depression really started to set in. I would put my kids to bed and go to the garage and just hang out. Didn't do clay at night for a couple months. I had boxes of mugs ready to be finished but I just couldn't find the motivation to finish glazing them. I ghosted my Instagram DMs, I didn't respond to emails. I was avoiding the work that I wanted to do. I can't exactly explain why. Maybe I needed a break. Maybe it's something else. Work and kids and wife and house and everything else just took priority over making mugs. People asking when and where to buy became overwhelming.
Oh yeah, also, my wife is pregnant and we are expecting our 3rd boy in mid March (right in the middle of NCECA). Totally unplanned and unexpected. I'm 44, and too old to do this again, but I guess we are doing this again……….so here we go….
After many discussions with my wife, I came to the realization that I needed help. I couldn't just keep going along and being miserable and becoming a horrible, unhappy person, bad parent, bad husband, etc. I started counseling and taking anxiety medication recently and trying to be proactive in being a better human. I dumped some of my responsibilities and finally finished the work that had been sitting around. I had a successful Sneakermug Sunday sale over Thanksgiving weekend. With the sale came more attention and new followers.
Everyone wants a sneakermug. And I want to keep everyone happy. I'm a people pleaser. I don't want anyone to hate me or be mad at me or disappoint anyone. It's part of who I am and it sucks. It creates an incredible amount of self induced stress and anxiety, as I'm also a DIY person and don't ask for help under most situations. I was planning on doing a preorder/waiting list and then came to the realization that as we get closer to March that life is going to change again very soon. I don't want to overpromise and underdeliver. So I'm going to take 24 pre orders starting this Sunday, then hopefully doing a regular sale sometime in March. Then repeat the cycle again.
Also because of the overwhelming demand, I have the opportunity to raise my prices a little bit. Sorry/not sorry. This is the part of the pottery business where I struggle the most. I am not a sales guy. I never have been, But like everything else in life I'm working on it and trying to balance my domestic responsibilities at home, professional responsibilities at work and continue to grow my career as an artist.
Most importantly I'm trying to not lose my mind and stay positive and productive.
Preorders will be available on Sunday, December 12. Limited to 24. 6-8 weeks for delivery. So they should be there in time for the Super Bowl.