Written by Raven John
For this week’s Studio Visit, I joined Jacqueline Robins, an East Van ceramicist who specializes in combining multiple surface techniques and city imagery into her work.
Jacqueline and I had a nice chat at the Trout Lake Farmers Market, which claims to be the longest-running farmers market in Vancouver. She had some of her beautiful works on display, from large platters featuring cityscapes and maps of Vancouver locations to mugs made for comfortable holding and style, each covered in imagery deeply rooted in the city. I asked her about her practice and she had some great bits of insight into being a professional artist.
Being a professional is working through failure. “Every failure is a success,” says Jacqueline. It’s easy enough to get discouraged when you don’t make a sale, make a mistake instead of a mug, or run into a case of artist’s block. What distinguishes professionals from hobbyists is dedication and professionalism. Keeping track of your material costs and market values when pricing your work is a good example Jacqueline brought up. Excluding your labour costs because it is a skill that came easily to you, or something you enjoy, belittles the work other artists put into their craft.
Jacqueline went on to talk about how her Salt Spring Island apprenticeship took the glamour out of selling her craft, and I asked her what kept her coming back to it. “I don’t think I could give it up if I wanted to,” she states with a laugh. It is clear that the love she and her customers have for her work is well-invested, so I left her to wrap up one of her mugs, which someone’s lucky son would soon be receiving for his birthday.
Check out our Instagram @craftcouncilbc for more photos and video from my visit with Jacqueline!