One of the first questions that every artist has to ask themselves when they start making things to sell is; how do I sign my work? It took me the better part of a year to make that decision.
In the fall of 1971, I had what I call a run-in with God. This encounter with God happened like this. A friend introduced me to a woman that had what I consider to be a prophetic gift, and through this prophetic gift, God let me know that he knew what I had been thinking, and that was going to see a counselor. I had not spoken to anyone about seeking counseling. Notably, the prophetic word did not reveal why I wanted to see a counselor. But the revelation was enough to let me know that God knew who I was and what was going on in my head. Up until that time, I had what I would call a long-distance relationship with God which, amounted to a, if you don’t bother me, I won’t bother you, attitude on my part. This revelation turned that upside down. Over the next year or so, because of this encounter and subsequent encounters, I decided to sign my work Praise God Rob.
I initially saw it as a quiet, unobtrusive way to express my faith that shouldn’t affect my relationship with potential customers. Of course, this was naive on my part, my signature shouted at people. People not only judged my work on my skill as a potter but also on how I signed it. My signature added depth of meaning for some people and alienated others, leading to blessings and curses. It opened some doors and closed others. Some store owners would carry my pottery, and some would not accept my work because of my signature. The rejection hurt, but it also made me stronger as I learned to deal with it.
I once received a substantial order from the department store Nieman Marcus. The buyer had been in my booth at the gift show in Dallas and liked something she saw. She picked up my literature, which told why I signed my work the way that I did. The order was to go to stores in Dallas, Scottsdale, and Chicago. After we shipped the order, the buyer called me and asked if Praise God was on everything. I told her it was and that an explanation was in my literature. She told me, “We Praise God in Dallas, but I am not sure about Scottsdale and Chicago.” The only reorders Neimans sent were for people who had purchased the dinnerware and wanted to add to what they had already purchased.
The strange thing is that I was accused once of signing my work, Praise God Rob, as a marketing ploy. Fortunately, a friend was at the meeting and defended me, saying, “He believes that stuff.” That, of course, was the truth; I am a believer. No doubt, you have come to that conclusion as you have read this post.
Although my signature has sometimes caused me pain, it also has been an unexpected blessing. It was something that people would remember whether they agreed or not. It opened doors to speak in churches and to youth groups. One of those blessings was an invitation for many years to teach pottery at Laity Lodge, part of HEB Foundation camp. Laity Lodge has been and continues to be a place that I and many people go to for a time of rest, refreshment and blessing.