Does Good City have a Good Product?
One of the major themes of Chris Gochnour’s episode of Teach With Your Hands can be summarized with this sentence: “Deliver a good product.” That was his advice when I asked him how to make money at teaching, but similar themes ran through his answers to “What makes a successful class?”
So, what is a good product?
There’s not one right answer. Students come to workshops and full-time programs for a variety of reasons.
Some students come to learn something specific. They have goals coming into a class and they trust that the instructor and curriculum are going to help them meet those goals. Learn a new firing method? Check. Learn how to use irregular gemstones in jewelry? Check.
Some students come to enjoy themselves. I mean, no one is coming so they can be miserable the whole time, but for some students, a workshop is like a vacation. You could also think of this kind of motivation in terms of the experience the school provides. Being there, doing real work, smelling the materials, touching them, talking to like-minded peers, getting immediate feedback from a master instructor… that’s a completely different way of learning than watching YouTube videos or reading books.
Some students come because they want to make a career our of their craft. I imagine this is more true of students who commit to full-time programs, but a pro taking a workshop as an introduction to a new skill like carving or veneer work in woodworking is no stretch of the imagination. These students don’t just want to learn new skills, they want to learn how to make those skills profitable. They want to develop an artistic voice, make connections with real clients, and feel confident that the time and money they’ve invested will generate some kind of a return.
And some students come because they want to make a life. Whether they’re headed for a professional career or not, craft work has the potential to become a defining area of any serious artist’s life, especially when the work is combined with a sense of belonging in a greater community. There’s a wholesomeness that comes from working with your hands, and a connection that comes from working side-by-side with members of a tribe that these kinds of students value more than the skills or the final products themselves.
So what kind of good product is Good City going to deliver? Ideally, all of them, but we’re going to take it one step at a time.
This summer, we’re planning on bringing some high-quality woodworking instructors into the Salt Lake area that don’t make it out to these parts very often. Hopefully, we’ll be creating some opportunities to learn, first hand, some specific and valuable skills. And hopefully, we’ll have a fun time doing it.
If all goes well, we’ll double down and bring in even more high-quality instructors next year.
Before too long, we’re hoping to gain enough traction to start offering a full-time woodworking program and later other full-time craft programs. That program’s going to focus on creating not just competent craftsmen, but competent business people with experience hosting events, connecting with clients and with a portfolio of work they’ve made and sold.
Students are going to learn those skills and make those connections by working along side our full-time staff to run a gallery, host major events, and organize continuing workshops. In other words, they’re going to build the community they will continue to operate in after leaving the school with their own hands.
Sound worthwhile? We think so. We hope you’ll join us.