Essential Tips for Young Artists from a Professional Ceramic Designer

On January 25, Yew Chung International School of Beijing (YCIS Beijing) invited artist and educator Nick Geankoplis to speak to a group of Secondary School students. Mr Geankoplis works primarily with ceramics and ceramic design, although he is also an acting Professor of Art and Design. During his presentation, Mr Geankoplis was able to introduce students to his profession and give a fair bit of guidance to those students interested in pursuing a career in art and visual design (be sure to check out Tiffany Choi’s student blog to learn about one such student!) We were able to catch up with Mr Geankoplis prior to his presentation gleaning some further insight into his personal inspiration for art as well as a few tips he has for young artists.

What initially drew you to your profession?
I love the resilience of ceramics. I am able to take something that was nothing and turn it into something that will be treasured and has the potential to be preserved for tens of thousands of years. This history of the art was what initially attracted me to ceramic artwork.


What degrees or skills are necessary or helpful in becoming a professional artist?
From a technical standpoint, it’s helpful to have a BA of Arts and a Master of Fine Arts. You should also strive to be active outside the classroom and do your best to find education out in the world through other channels. I highly recommend peer groups as one such channel.

What do you think are the three most important traits necessary to be a successful artist?
Perseverance: As an artist, you’ll be met by far more failures than you will be with successes, especially in the beginning. It’s very important to balance external rewards versus internal rewards; you should always make sure that you are receiving satisfaction from your work and not just looking for external praise.


Questioning: A good artist should always be looking back at his or her own work with a critical eye and always looking to improve. You should never be completely satisfied with a piece that you’ve created.

Belief: Through all the ups and downs of the artistic process, an artist needs to maintain belief in themselves. You will experience frustration and doubt along the way, but you can be successful as long as you maintain that belief in yourself.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a high school student interested in pursuing this career path?
In addition to working hard in traditional art classes, I would encourage high school students to seek out experiences in non-traditional learning environments, such as finding mentor artists to help guide you or other out-of-classroom opportunities to display your artwork or acquire new skills.

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