Every year on the last weekend of August there is a ceramics market in Gmunden. This year it has been it’s 27th year. It presented 125 of best ceramic artists from all over Europe. The stands and booths were on the promenade by the lake Traunsee, surrounded by green hills and high mountains.

I have visited the market three times now and noticed that the large majority of artists are regular. So I looked for those I usually buy from and got something this year too.

Every year the market hosts a selected European country. 10 Artist are invited from guest country without going through tough selection process or without paying market fee. This year Slovenia was a guest country. Nika Stupica who has been a regular exhibitor for 7 years now, choose 10 artists. Usually it is quite difficult to get selected since about 300 ceramists apply but only about a half gets selected by committee. That 125 ceramist are very best Europe can offer. That is why the competition is very tough. Maybe too tough for many. Nevertheless, Slovenian team was selling well. I was very much impressed by the quality of ceramics Slovenia makes.

Gmunden market guests were: Kaolin – design by Nika Stupica, Karlo and Marta Pavlinc, Vesna Vidrih, Tri Lukne – Ana Haberman, Dani Zbontar, Ines Kovacic, Lucka Sicarov, Katja Spiler, Barbara S. Podlesnik and myself – Anja Slapnicar. I also did a short interview with each of them, which will be soon presented on thisisceramics.com as well.

I knew most of them from before, but some I got a chance to meet at the market. I was proud and happy to be a part of such a great team. Everybody was in the happy mood and the atmosphere was fantastic. There were no jealousy among us, on the contrary, we were encouraging each other and we weren’t far from playfully sneaking works to one another, so it would sell better.

Ceramics at the market is very diverse; from traditional red earthenware, ceramic jewellery, thin porcelain, garden ceramics, Asian inspired, to big sculptures worth few thousands euro. That is why the market attracts a wide spectre of visitors, among them few gallerists and collectors, but overall the main crowd were older women. I noticed that in Netherlands too. They like to buy bright colourful ceramics, if not some ceramic flowers.

An elder couple caught my eye, a Japanese man and his wife, probably Austrian, who were making circles around the market from the moment we started setting up – one day before, until the last day. I saw them coming around maybe 4 times a day, looking every piece of ceramics market had. Nothing went pass them. I imagine that they choose best works and predict that they have really nice one at home, collected from all over the world.

So what did I learn from this market? A lot. I also analysed the success rate. I am very young and have little experience for this markets, my ceramics isn’t competitive enough or consistent. I give myself another 5 years, to conquer my very distinctive style. Then I will apply or, it is also possible, markets won’t be interesting for me anymore. As I mentioned before, the large group of people are women or retired women. But to my surprise a lot of my business was with men, to whom I always wanted to increase my sales. For me that is a little personal victory!

Photos: Dusan Smolnikar