How to Start a Pottery Painting Studio Business

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Young boy painting pottery.
Young boy painting pottery. (Image: warioman/iStock/Getty Images)

Clay bowls and pottery designs have been around for thousands of years. In the 21st century, pottery is used more for design than function. Artistic pottery gives a room texture, and adding paint to pottery brings in a splash of color to any room. If you open a studio to create pottery for sale, address trends in consumer taste. Or, invite the public in to make pottery under your watchful eye.

Things You'll Need

  • Clay
  • Business license
  • Reseller’s license
  • Potters wheel
  • Electric kiln
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes

Getting Started

Choose strategies to generate income that you can easily incorporate into your existing business concept, expertise and schedule of operations. Possible income generators are classes for pottery enthusiasts, selling original designs or renting space to amateur pottery sculptors who need a place to work.

Obtain a business license, and then get a reseller’s license to eliminate your responsibility for paying taxes on clay, paint and other materials you’ll need to produce your pottery. Contact your state's department of revenue to request an application.

Estimate the costs for supplies, shipping and studio rental. Find financing, whether taking from your savings, finding a business partner or applying for a bank loan to pay for painting supplies, studio rental, clay and other expenses you have need to get the doors open to the studio.

Work with a commercial real estate agent to find studio space. Visit several possible locations before making your final choice. In the book, “Making Pottery for Profit,” Richard D. Cole writes, “Your main considerations will be the amount of available floor space, light, heat, power facilities, sanitation, and facilities for delivery and shipment of raw materials and merchandise.”

Create a website to display your pottery artwork and to list your class schedules. Enlist the help of an experienced web designer, who can be found on online freelance job boards, if needed. Open an account with a shipping company that can deliver pottery that is ordered online.

Making Art

Find art supply wholesalers. Buy an electric kiln, a workbench, bins and paint brushes. Electric kilns can be as inexpensive as $700 depending on size and heat levels.

Buy molding clay or make your own. To make molding clay, mix a cup of flour, a cup of water and a cup of salt, then heat over low heat. Cool the mixture, and then create your first set of pottery samples.

Snap pictures of your initial samples with a digital camera. Use a graphic designer you’ve commissioned to help create a brochure with pictures of your samples.

Solicit local retail businesses. Make a list of retailers in the local area who sell pottery, home design fixtures and artwork. Send them copies of your brochure along with an order slip.

Market your pottery studio to the public. Attend art festivals. Rent a booth and display your pottery. Stack plenty of copies of your brochure for people in attendance. Rosalind Resnick writes in an Entrepreneur that “People like to see a craftsperson creating artwork in his booth, not just selling it. While this isn't always possible, it's a crowd-pleasing idea that works well for jewelry makers, woodworkers, quilters and other craftspeople.”

Post ads on online classifieds like Craigslist to announce your class openings. Post advertisements in community newsletters and local art magazines.

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