Nobody warns you…

that choosing to be in a creative industry can be hell. Okay, maybe they did but I wasn’t going to listen because I was born to be a maker.


In a creative business there are no regular hours or pay cheque and definitely no guaranteed success based on merit and hard work. Mostly you have to self motivate, self encourage and as trite as it sounds “not sweat the small stuff”. During a low period of thinking “Why am I putting myself through this?” I read a book by Elizabeth Gilbert titled “Big Magic“.

Now I am a big believer that the Universe speaks to me via books. I can be seen at my local library casually roaming the aisles letting my fingers slide along the spines of books waiting for some greater power to make me stop and pull out a book. This time I heard Elizabeth Gilbert speaking on the radio about the book she’d written about living a creative life. Immediately, I knew I had to, not just borrow this book from my library, but own a copy.

Don’t panic folks I won’t get too evangelical even though my fingers are itching to type out paragraphs of praise. Surfice it to say, that if you are living or want to live a creative life then this book is a must read.

For the purpose of this post I want to focus on what Elizabeth had to say about perfection. In short, if you wait for something to be perfect it never happens. Now that’s not saying that you should be happy with ‘good enough’ instead you should get it out there and then keep refining your work.

I have been accused of being a tad ‘slap dash’ and at first I took this as a mortal insult; but upon reflection they were right however I chose to see it in a positive light. The bits I didn’t tidy up began the start of an adventure which took me off the ‘tried and true path’ of ceramics. I saw the dreaded dunting and bloating (ceramic terms, look them up if you’re interested) as beautiful and they became an intrinsic part of my work and a reflection of my ceramic ethos.


This bowl was made on a whimsy and stumped on how to decorate it I decided that, as an ode to “Big Magic”, rather than trying to eliminate its imperfections I would highlight them by brushing them with a copper solution. Must admit that it did make me nervous when I realised how many imperfections there were but I remained determined and kept going till I couldn’t find anymore.

When it came out of it’s firing I drew a deep breath and smiled. It was more than I ever thought it would be. It was the physical manifestation of my thoughts on imperfection and how optimistic I felt about my creative life after having read this book.

This bowl will be on display at the “Touch Ceramic Exhibition and Sale” at Brookvale Tafe.






About Elisa Bartels

A ceramic artist/designer and sporadic botanical dyer chatting and photographing the trials, tribulations and celebrations of being an artist who doesn't want to starve.
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2 Responses to Nobody warns you…

  1. Beautiful…and an inspiring post. Thank you.

  2. thanks for your kind words Rowena

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