What's the Best Lesson a Mentor Ever Taught You?

What's the Best Lesson a Mentor Ever Taught You?

Ani Kasten

Ani Kasten

Sarah Nikitopoulos

During my apprenticeship with Rupert Spira, he advised me that if I wanted to make a career out of my ceramics, I should just go to my studio every day, make work, and sell it. Don’t think about it, don’t wait for inspiration, just work. This advice has helped me create a daily 9-to-5 studio practice that allows me to support my­self by making and selling ceramic art. ~Ani Kasten, ceramist, Mount Rainier, MD

As far as mentors go, I have to say my father and several other men I grew up around [inspired me]. It wasn’t so much that they were craftsmen in the classical sense – in fact, they all had desk jobs – but they knew their way around tools and took on a variety of home improvement tasks without hesitation. It was this can-do attitude that taught me the value of handwork and its satisfactions. ~Michael Puryear, furniture maker, Shokan, NY

“Left, right, left, right.” During my corporate career, I worked for someone who had been in Vietnam. He used to tell me to keep my eyes open, stay focused on the goal ahead, and continue to march forward. Don’t get caught up in the minutiae that don’t mean anything – it just takes time and wastes energy. ~Ellen Hertz, owner, Max’s, St. Louis Park, MN

The best lesson a mentor ever taught me is that there is a world outside of the four walls that surround me. This wise English teacher showed me that I don’t have to be defined by my environment. Instead, I can act with reason and compassion to be a member of the present. ~Molly Geisinger, Hamilton College sophomore, American Craft summer intern, Ridgefield, CT 

My professor and mentor Alma Eikerman inspired me to look beyond my field of jewelry and metal arts for inspiration from other media, architecture, and nature. She encouraged her students to travel, do research, read, draw, and continue creating new work after graduating. I am grateful for her knowledge, insight, and generosity. ~Marilyn Da Silva, artist, program chair, jewelry/metal arts, California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA