Paul Schneider | Episode 192
Paul Schneider lives in Dallas, Texas and is 31 years old. First exposed to ceramics in high school (St. Mark’s), attended Rhodes College – played baseball, majored in International Studies. No ceramics program at Rhodes, tried unsuccessfully to start one. One semester I got access to nearby Memphis College of Art to continue throwing. Spent a semester in Madrid – took a ceramics class there – that would be considered my only ‘formal’ education in ceramics. I’ve been working full-time on ceramics (my business) for the past six years. It’s been a roller coaster. Went to a trade show in NYC -March 2014 – Architectural Digest Home Design Show – got a lot of great press there – AD wrote a profile piece on my work. Currently focus is on table lamps.
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What motivates you to keep working as a ceramic artist everyday?
I think the trial and error aspect. It’s the curiosity. You know? Like why did this slip cast crack happen? There’s a whole lot of reasons for that to happen. So you troubleshoot it. The same deal with glazes and glaze application. So I kind of enjoy that process.
What’s your dream business model?
First and foremost I would like to continue establishing my current work. Like my custom lamps. I would like to get a little bit more exposure for that. And then from there I don’t really know what direction I’d go in. So essentially from…let’s call it branding. If you can get a little more traction from the current brand then maybe it will forge you the opportunity for forge you into different directions. But that’s all small business headaches. Like yeah you want three more kilns and to bring on some people, but do you have the money to do that? Those are kind of things that keep me up at night.
How important is goal setting for you?
I should do a better job of goal setting. I appreciate how setting goals can make you more productive and stay on task, but I don’t do a good enough job with that at all. And I think part of that due to the whole ceramics process takes so long that I get sidetracked. Meaning I get started on a piece and it takes so long to dry to biske fire, to glaze, all that stuff. So strictly from that stand point. Maybe I’m too ADD. I get started on too many things.
How do you build a successful customer base?
I wish I knew. I don’t know! I think your heart has got to be in the piece that you’re making. So if you’re just head over heels for your design. If you think your design is just so incredibly aesthetically pleasing then you’re going to have the confidence to present that to somebody and to sell it. So in my case, retailers and interior designers. But if I didn’t have the confidence in my work then I wouldn’t do that.
What is your favorite aspect of being a ceramic business owner?
The glaze firing aspect. Cause I still get the feeling that I’m going to rush over there and open up the kiln too soon to see how everything turned out. That’s super exciting. From a business point of view…I mean when people get excited about your work. So right now everything is really organic. And I really enjoy that. I would say a large percentage of my new work is people find me from somewhere and get in touch. So that’s very exciting. And then to see your work in certain places. Like to see my lamp in certain places. There have been some big projects where I’ve been able to put some lamps into it. So that always makes you feel good. To know like ‘heck. I started this with a handful of raw materials.’ I think that’s pretty cool.