Ceramics, derived from the Greek word “keramikos” which means pottery, was the art of mixing clay and water, molding it into a particular shape, and later subjecting it to heat to form products. Over time the material range has increased, ceramicists also work in materials such as porcelain, clay, bone china, and stoneware to make products, such as bathroom fixtures, sculptures , domestic and commercial tableware, kitchenware, garden ceramics, jewelry, and tiles . The job of a ceramic designer doesn’t end with producing these goods but also painting or glazing and decorating the item to finish it off. 

Career Guide: Ceramics designer - Sheet1
Modern ceramic vases_©jessica ruscellon

Where did it all start? 

Pottery has been one of the most ancient industries to have been in the business, starting from the first discovery of ‘Venus of Dolní Věstonice’ during the late paleolithic period. Several years later, it spread to the eastern countries. On finding fragments of pots in a cave in China dating to 18000-17000 BCE. Research suggests that from China, it spread to regions like Japan and Russia. But the extensive usage of this material was after the Neolithic settlements. Many people started using ceramics to hold water and food. Other items such as artifacts, tiles, and bricks as well were being produced. Its usage spread from Asia to the middle east and Europe. The invention of the wheel played a big role in the development of pottery and thereby its goods.

Career Guide: Ceramics designer - Sheet2
Craft of pottery_©earl-wilcox-unsplash

Ceramics today

Ceramics have taken the forefront of late, due to countless reasons. After mental health awareness became popular, the most common advice to people was that of mindfulness, pottery helps with the same. Individuals have an affinity toward pottery for various reasons. Few because they like the craft of getting their hands dirty in the mud to create something that will serve a purpose, and some because of how much one has to be in the present during the process or simply because they get to see the end result. Food and Instagram have played an immense role in the growth of ceramics. With influencers posting pictures of their food in ceramic utensils, it has drawn interest towards the art form. Not only to appreciate it but also piques interest to learn it. Ceramic designers, more often than not, work in a self-employed capacity and create their own range of products based on their interests. Yet, there is the opportunity to work for a large company that will provide you with a brief and one can thereby design for mass production of a product. 

Career Guide: Ceramics designer - Sheet3
Impact of aesthetic food pictures on instagram_©Henry Hargreaves Photography

What to study?

While any bachelor’s degree in art, design, ceramics, or 3d design would help one become a ceramic designer, one would need soft skills such as communication, and budget planning, and in the case of self-employed capacity, one would have to be able to promote their business through marketing techniques. It is also essential to have a creative flair, attention to detail, patience, work within a deadline, and a passion for creating objects.

One could take a master’s program in ceramics. 

Some of the available programs abroad are:

  • University of Pécs- MA in ceramic design 
  • Royal college of art, London- MA ceramics, and glass
  • The University Of Limoges- Masters in material science and engineering- high-performance ceramics.

Programs available in India

  • Visva Bharati University, West Bengal
  • National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad
  • University of Mumbai

Salary

Employment opportunities for ceramic designers vary, some of them include- design studios, art galleries, museums, education institutes, product design companies, and startups. 

While the starting salary in India varies from 1,20,000 INR to 2,80,000 INR

Annual income in Europe is from £15,000 for beginners and £30,000 for experienced ceramic designers.

While the income of a ceramic designer is unknown in the United States. Fine artists made an annual salary of about $53,080 in 2010 while craft artists made $32,010.

Various online platforms for learning

Getting started

So how does one know if they want to be a ceramic designer? well, it’s simple, if you have an appreciation for pottery, getting your hands dirty and creating something that’s earthen. Now’s your time to explore, and if you’re still unsure if this is what you want to pursue, you can always start off with these free resources available on the internet. 

  • Pottery on the wheel- is a blog that has a step-by-step intro to pottery 

http://www.pottery-on-the-wheel.com/how-to-make-pottery-beginning.html

  • Videos by a few ceramic artists on YouTube 

Learning throwing by Hsin-Chuen Lin- https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7ACFB372AE5CF96D

Timsee clay-throwing for beginners- https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5F345871510B9B05

  • Ceramic arts network is an active blog for all things ceramic

https://ceramicartsnetwork.org/home

  • The Australian Ceramics Association is providing free masterclasses on ceramics for people around the world. 

https://australianceramics.com/masterclasses

While these are some of the free resources, there are many paid short courses on websites such as: 

  • Udemy 
  • Domestika 
  • Skillshare 

And many studios around India, also provide many short workshops for anybody to get a glimpse of the ceramic world, which helps aspirants decide if they want to pursue this profession. 

Ceramic designers usually strive to be self-employed, to exhibit their style of work and their range. But, building a reputation in this manner is tougher than usual, thus they build their portfolio using alternative paths such as art management, gallery management, and teaching. Besides, designers have satisfaction in this field by working in larger companies, however, a lot of non-design related tasks would be affiliated with this type of work. 

References:

  1. BigCeramicStore.com. 2022. Free Online Pottery Classes . [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2022].
  2. CollegeDekho. 2022. Career as Ceramics Designer – How to Become, Courses, Job Profile, Salary & Scope . [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2022].
  3. Lutyens, D., 2022. Why the slow, mindful craft of pottery is booming worldwide . [online] Bbc.com. Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2022].
  4. Masterstudies.com. 2022. Best Master’s Degrees in Ceramics in Europe 2022 . [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2022].
  5. Prospects.ac.uk. 2022. Ceramics designer job profile | Prospects.ac.uk . [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2022].
  6. The Art Career Project. 2022. Ceramic Artist | The Art Career Project . [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 July 2022].
Author

Flora is a student of architecture, with a passion for psychology and philosophy. She loves merging her interests and drawing parallels to solve and understand design problems. As someone that values growth, she uses writing as a medium to share her learning and perspective.

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