Ceramic Arts

Ceramicists use hand tools and potters wheels to craft and form items from clay, after which products are decorated and placed in kilns for hardening. If you find yourself drawn to handcrafted pottery, read on to learn more about the educational options and potential earnings for ceramicists.

Is Ceramic Arts for Me?

Career Overview

Ceramicists create art from raw materials, like clay, and join them together with heat to make vases, pots and other decorative or useful items. They may be self-employed and exhibit their work at art galleries or events. As a ceramicist, you'll most likely be considered a craft artist or potter, as opposed to a sculptor or fine artist who works on non-functional pieces. If you're more interested in the finishing process, you might also decide to specialize in decal applications, decorating, glazing or painting.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected a nationwide employment increase of just 3%, or slower than average, for craft artists between 2012 and 2022. Opportunities for fine artists, including painters, sculptors and illustrators, were expected to grow by 4% during the same 10-year period. As of May 2013, craft artists had an average annual salary of $36,600, as reported by the BLS. Fine artists (including painters, sculptors and illustrators) had an average annual salary of $50,900 during the same month, while painting, coating and decorating workers earned $29,960 (www.bls.gov).

How Can I Work in Ceramic Arts?

Formal Education

Ceramic arts programs can be found at both the undergraduate and graduate levels at community colleges and universities. These include short-term certificate and 2-year degree programs in art with a concentration in ceramics. Course topics may include training in clay casting and making, 2-D and 3-D design and sketching.

Undergraduate Programs

Four-year programs can lead to a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics. Program emphasis is on the creative and applied aspects of the field and typically includes instruction in art history, modeling and the use of a pottery wheel.

Graduate Programs

Master of Fine Arts programs with a concentration in ceramics may provide opportunities for creative experimentation and risk-taking, and can take up to three years to complete. In addition to course and studio work, requirements might include participating in critiques, conducting presentations and writing a thesis.

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