How to become a Ceramics Designer-Maker. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Ceramics Designer Maker do?
As a ceramics designer, you would design a range of products to be made by shaping and firing clay. These could include tableware, kitchenware, gifts and decorative items.
In large companies, you would usually:
- produce designs for mass production
- interpret product requirements (‘briefs’)
- liaise with clients and other staff
- design items using materials including bone china, hard porcelain, earthenware and stoneware
- oversee production (although increasingly production takes place overseas).
As a self-employed designer-maker you would be more likely to:
- design and produce one-off designs
- sell directly from your own studio, gallery or shop, at craft fairs or exhibitions, or through other shops or galleries
- produce items by hand, or using a mould or potter’s wheel.
Designers must make sure that their designs are likely to sell, so you would need to keep up to date with trends by carrying out research and attending trade fairs and exhibitions.
As a ceramics designer employed by a company, you will usually work set basic hours, although you may need to do extra hours to meet deadlines.
If you are a self-employed or freelance designer/maker, your hours will vary according to the amount of work you have, and you may need to supplement your income with another full- or part-time job.
You will usually work in a studio or workshop, but may have opportunities to travel to visit manufacturers (often overseas), or make research visits to trade shows or to particular places linked to a design theme.
How much does a Ceramics Designer earn?
- New entrants can earn around £18,000 a year.
- Experienced designers can earn £33,000 or more.
Earnings for freelance designers and self-employed designer/makers depend on the success of their business.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You will usually need a BTEC HND or a degree in a relevant subject such as 3-D design, ceramics or ceramic design. The most useful courses include practical skills as well as creative design, so you should check that the content of courses meets your needs before making your choice.
To search for HNDs and degrees see the UCAS website. Check with colleges and universities for their specific entry requirements.
You will need to put together a portfolio of work that you can show to potential employers and course providers.
Because the industry is very competitive, any work experience you gain will give you an advantage when it comes to getting a job. It can be worthwhile researching companies whose products match your style, and making speculative approaches. Entering competitions, exhibitions and shows can also be a good way of being noticed by employers.
If you intend to become self-employed as a designer-maker, you could develop practical skills on a wide range of pottery courses offered by local colleges, and some pottery studios run summer and weekend courses.
Visit the Studio Pottery website for information on courses, events, competitions, awards and galleries, and a directory of designers to which members can add their details.
- Studio Pottery
Training and Development
Once you are working as a ceramics designer, you will need to keep up to date with new technological developments, new materials and design trends. You can do this by attending short courses and workshops. Information from the Studio Pottery website could be useful for this.
- Studio Pottery
If you have a degree you can do postgraduate courses to develop your knowledge. See to You can search for courses on the Hobsons Postgrad website.
- Hobsons Postgrad
Skills and Knowledge
- an appreciation of colour and shape
- awareness of the properties of materials and the technical processes involved
- the ability to communicate ideas through sketches or computer images
- the ability to research and evaluate relevant design information
- effective communication and negotiating skills
- business and marketing skills (for self-employment).
Employers include large ceramic producers and retail outlets. You will usually start as a trainee or assistant before becoming a designer. Once you have developed the skills you need to be a successful ceramics designer, you can progress to jobs such as senior designer.
Alternatively, you may decide to become a freelance designer (employed by a company for specific projects), or a self-employed designer-maker.
The Crafts Council or the crafts officer of your local regional arts board may be able to advise on studio availability and possible sources of funding.