Eric Boynton graduated from then St. Petersburg Junior College and went on to USF to earn a BA degree in Studio Art. I recently received the following update from him, which I thought I would share with our blog readers. I thought his story was a great success story about pursuing studies and an arts career.
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After graduating college in 1998 I took an opportunity to teach Outdoor Education in Massachusetts through a company called Natures Classroom. Here children would arrive and stay for a week. We would teach Science, Art, Orienteering, and Team building classes which we could teach from prepared curriculum or create our own classes based on our interest and teaching style.
My Next adventure after teaching for a year was to move back to Florida and work in a ceramic tile factory in Sarasota. I was the sole production staff on the work floor slip casting decorative tile, pouring molds, repairing the kilns, forklift operating, and casting polyester rubber master molds. It was during this time that I learned about an apprenticeship program at the Moravian Pottery and Tileworks In Doylestown, PA.
Now the summer of 1999, I began the apprenticeship that would lead to my ceramic career. I spent three months working side by side with the staff in all areas of production. In addition I was provided a studio space to practice the techniques on my own work and designs. I decided I liked the area and wanted to stay and see what developed after the apprenticeship program.
I was lucky enough to find employment with the Bucks County Intermediate Unit working in classroom settings with Hearing disabled children. Sign Language was another skill I learned while studying at SPJC and even though the children I worked with had Implants and hearing aides the Sign language skills came in handy. My second school year with the Intermediate Unit was working with residential treatment for emotional needs children in the classroom. My art education came in very handy here too when i needed to improvise and create learning tools and projects to engage the kids.
In the summer of 2001, a full time position opened up at the Moravian Pottery and Tileworks and I was awarded the position. I have now been working at the Tileworks full time for about 14 years and have developed specialties in the areas of “Cinder staining” which is a sagger firing technique, and Mosaics.
My Wife and I saw a cute store front available in our little town, walking distance from our home. After much discussion we decided to take a chance and open a gallery on a trial basis for 3 months through the holidays just to see what it was like and if it worked well we would keep it open. In order to keep the doors open and keep our day jobs we needed more people involved. We decided to open up opportunities for local artist friends of ours and invited a hand full to join. The best model for this, since we didn’t have the income yet to pay hourly rates was the Co-Op model. We had been involved in a small Co-Op in Allentown previously and based our working contracts on theirs. Commissions were set on a sliding scale based on the number of days per month the artists kept the doors open. We started with the two of us and 8 friends and have grown to represent over 30 local artists.
Take every opportunity to learn every skill you can — you never know what will come in handy. Don’t give up just because it doesn’t happen over night, for most of us it takes years to get to the point where we make a living at it. Take the time to experiment and have fun, before you know it you can end up being a chochky (STUFF) factory. Make what you love to make, there will be someone out there who appreciates it. Make connections and relationships!!! The best way to sell art is to create a relationship with your patrons. Get out and represent yourself. There is no one who can do it better! Finally, in the words of Robert Pipenberg “ If all else fails Make Cofee mugs”.
Eric C. Boynton
Mr. Clay Rat
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