Austin Wieland | Episode 354
Austin Wieland is a ceramic sculptor living in Georgia. He was born and raised in Bryan, Ohio and began working with clay in High School. He received his BFA from Miami University of Ohio in 2011 with a studio concentration in Ceramics and Minor in Arts Management. In 2015, he graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a MFA in Ceramics. Currently, Wieland is the Assistant Professor of Ceramics and Sculpture at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia.
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Instagram question : Should new potters pursue an MFA?
That’s a tough one. I really think it depends on where you feel your work is and how motivated you are. If you are still not sure where you want to go as an artist then I would maybe take a little time off and make sure you really want to pursue that extra degree. It is not cheap. Even if you have school paid for you are probably going to have to take out loans or something to make ends meet. I think you really have to evaluate whether or not you want to try and make it as a production potter or as a sculptor or what the end result is for you. If you want to see the work progress faster and you are motivated to be in the studio everyday then I think go for it because it is a great learning experience.
Is higher education experience worth the debt when you are just starting out as an entrepreneur or artist?
School isn’t cheap and I think a lot of people don’t realize it when they are young, but with the loans you have to pay that money back. You should really have a clear path set in your mind as what you are going to do when you leave with an MFA. Do you want to set up a studio and try to sell your work through galleries and a website and craft shows? Or do you want to try and make it by doing all these jury shows and stuff? I think you have to have path figured out before you go into that.
What other educational routes would you recommend if the MFA is not the approach?
I think if you want to be a potter specifically, I think find a local potter who is kind of well-known in your community and see if you can apprentice with them or be a studio assistant for awhile. Learn how they market their work and how they do things around the studio to save money. I think there is a lot to learn from people who have been in the field for a long time and they have figured out a way to make a living as an artist. Sometimes those are great learning experiences that you don’t really have to pay a lot of money for.
What is one of things that you have discovered about being a professor that you did not expect that now you have to deal with?It could be either good or bad?
There are a lot of behind the scenes administrative work. I sort of knew that going into it but you really have to be organized. I think I am already an organized person so that helps but you get a constant flow of emails. Advising is a big one, you are constantly trying to make sure a student is in the right class or has the right number of credits. You have to be an organized person and I think that I am and I can juggle all that but it is something I didn’t realize to what extent I needed to be organized. So that was something that I learned early on. Make sure you have your ducks in a row and everything before you start each day.
What is your best organizational tool?
I use my phone a lot to schedule events and I always keep a planner around, like an actual paper planner. I am always writing notes down in my planner of things I need to do the next day or the next week or things I need to stay on top of like deadlines for shows. I am always writing notes to myself.
Instagram question: What do you listen to when you work?
That’s a good question. I am a big fan of audiobooks. So I will either listen to audiobooks about art or sometimes I will listen to music too, but especially this summer I have been more into an audiobook phase. I have been listening to a lot of books about art theft and art forgery because they are really entertaining and still art related.
What is the best art theft or art forgery book you have “read” so far?
The best one this summer is called Priceless by Robert Wittman.
He would go undercover as an FBI agent to recover stolen art and he helped found the FBI recovery team. It is a really entertaining book, you wonder how much of it is embellished a little bit.
Instagram question: If you could use one word to describe your work and/or artistic style what would it be?
Oh wow, that’s a great question. I would say industrial because it kind of has a lot of industrial-looking parts.
Instagram question: What is your favorite game-changing tool that you couldn’t live without?
I am a big fan of Sherrill Mud Tools and specifically the red soft rib. I can sit there and smooth a sculpture for hours with those things. So yeah, that’s definitely my favorite tool by far.
My last question is an instagram question: What is your favorite album?
I am a big Wood Brothers fan. I am going to have to go for Postcards from Hell by the Wood Brothers.