CM: One of the other things you have become known for beyond, but related to, your work is your effectiveness at marketing your work through digital media. How did you become an early adopter of technology in our field, and how have you seen that change over time?
AH: When I got out of grad school I was at a crossroads. On one hand, I could teach in academia, and on the other, I could make work. I chose to primarily make work. To my good fortune, the internet was growing quickly and I was interested in it on an artistic level and as
a marketing tool. Artistically, it felt very much like ceramics, where niggling and loss of control existed in the same process. I was also interested right from the beginning in reaching out to people directly. I’ve always been very shy, and being online was a way in which I could have a balance of solitude and engagement as far as customers were concerned. The reclusive studio artist now has a portal to the outside world!
What’s emerged over the past few years with social media and blogging is an incredible transparency to our lives, however much spin we put on things. It’s been amazing to see the growth of museum collections online and artist databases so that minutia can be accessed instantly. The conversations I had just a few years ago that encourage more blogging in ceramics and called for more educational videos are largely irrelevant now. The number of quality voices out there vying for our ears and wallets ups the ante and puts even more demands on makers to wear multiple hats, all the while leading an ostensibly non-chaotic studio life.
The other day I watched a charming video about my woodworker friend, Josh Vogel, with wood chips flying and his sandy voice talking about finding old nails in tree trunks. It was a powerful reminder that no matter how seductive and fun it is for me to do marketing material, whether it’s postcards or video, my work in clay comes first and that neglecting it for too long isn’t in my best interest. There’s still nothing better to me than a good functional pot. I don’t know if being an attentive Facebooker and a focused ceramic artist are mutually exclusive, but I’m entertaining the idea.” (10).