• Krystal Speck

A Whole New Year: Goal Setting & Self-care in the Studio

Welcome to a whole new year. For most makers, January is a time of reflection, and hopefully, of some much deserved rest. When our hands are our number one tool, our bodies and minds need this time to pause. Maybe you just made it through a busy retail show season where you met your customers in person after months of quietly focused production work in your studio (thank you, podcasts!). Perhaps you’re also working on wholesale accounts, meaning for that for you, the summer months are likely just as hectic as December. Your studio is full of pots. Your kiln seems to be cycling 24/7.

But what happens after all that is done? When your whole next year sits right ahead and you have to be very strategic about which opportunities you take on for the next 365 days? And what about physical hurdles? If you’re fortunate enough to be working in clay in any capacity, I’m sure there have been days in your studio when you struggled to stay motivated or when your body just wanted to give up. What practices could you put in place to make the next year of making flow, rather than crunch?

We’re always showing our best selves on social media and are especially good at highlighting how productive we can be. We glamourize hard work. I’d like to shed some light on what has to happen behind the scenes to keep that hard work coming.

To do that, I’ve asked five working ceramists to talk about the challenges they've faced and which self-care practices have kept them on solid ground while they continue to build their careers in clay.


Do you have strategic goals (personal, career, financial) that you set each year?

I always set goals for the new year, taking on small or big challenges keeps me motivated at the studio. I think of my year in a global way as personal decisions have an enormous influence on career choices. As early as January, I have a good idea of ​​what the next 11 months will be like and the registration for fairs and events are often prepared well in advance.

I recently moved to a more remote area. I had this dream for a long time of having a home near a forest. The studio is still very busy despite the distance. I have concentrated my efforts on expanding my market, doing fewer events and working with more shops and museums.

Do you have a creative and/or business mentor that you check-in with?

I do not have a mentor in particular but a ceramic community to talk to. The community is very open and generous, everyone has their strengths. I like to hear several opinions because there are so many ways to do things. When I feel the need to go deeper in a specific subject, I do not hesitate to contact the Conseil des métiers d 'art du Québec, which offers mentoring programs.

What do you do in moments of self-doubt?

I do not stay in the studio, I take a break outside even if it's just 15 minutes to aerate my mind. I also use many post-it's to make lists of things to do in the short and medium term, setting priorities. It calms me down and helps me see the times in which I can accomplish these tasks.

What mantra or phrase are you using to help guide you for 2017?

"There was nowhere to go but everywhere. So just keep on rolling under the stars."

-Jack Kerouac



Do you have strategic goals that you set each year?

In terms of financial/career goals, I find that I beat myself up if I don't meet my expectations (and I'm learning that this isn't the best way to respect myself or my studio practice). Instead, I set quarterly, monthly, and weekly "plans" that I follow, and if I am improving overall, (and continuing to pay the bills) I am happy. For personal goals, though, I have been making more effort in the last year to envision what I want my life to look like, and making adjustments to my habits/lifestyle to fit those goals. Career/money has always come first, but I'm trying to change that!

Do you ever feel physically challenged in the studio? Creaky back? Sore wrists? (and what tools have helped you manage that?)