Creating the Perfect Profession

Work… Making it Work!
Career Building Inspiration

A blog from the Nefesh B’Nefesh Employment Department

Crafting the Perfect Profession
The Art of Being an Artist in Israel

tovah-presserName: Tovah Presser
Originally from: Long Beach, New York
Made Aliyah: 2007
Lives in: Givat Ze’ev
Job: Glass and Ceramics Artist, Owner at “TAP Art Jerusalem”

If you happen to be strolling around the downtown streets of Jerusalem, you may run into Tovah Presser’s studio. Tovah is a glass artist and ceramicist, who is following her passion of ceramics and glasswork, and making it her career.

To become an artist, Tovah attended Bezalel School of Art. Throughout her degree, she learned technique, skill, and managed to have two kids in the process!  This determination and love for what she does drives her to create and sell more and more beautiful art!

Tovah is a great example of somebody who is making it work in the art industry in Israel. Formal training and skill is one thing, but determination and passion is another! The art industry is not an easy one, and requires a lot of hard work and focus. However, the thrill of creation and creative process keeps her going!

I spoke to Tovah to hear more…

What did you do before moving to Israel?
I made Aliyah right after finishing high school!

What do you do now?
I work at my studio in Jerusalem, creating and selling glass and ceramic products, in addition to leading small workshops. I mostly make items that are practical; bowls, plates, cups, mezuzot, and beads, as well as glass sculptures.

How did you find your job?
I was always artistic and into fine art. After high school I attended Emunah Ve’omanut- an art’s and learning based year-abroad program. One of the programs they ran was a six-week session with a glass artist. The experience pushed me to realize how much I loved working with glass.

I searched art’s programs in Israel, and found the Bezalel Academy Glass Department. I studied glass blowing, fusing, bead making, sculpting, and more.  I graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, majoring in glasswork.

I now share a studio with my friend in the center of town in Jerusalem.

What do you love most about your job?
I love the freedom to create. The most exciting part for me is the creative process of being an artist- having ideas pop into my mind, and making them a reality. I love the face of my customers when they see a piece that they like and are excited about! I love knowing that they are taking my pieces home and enjoying them. 

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Just like a writer, artists can also go through periods of “writer’s block.” Sometimes, I can go days without knowing what to make, before my mind starts working and processing again! It is challenging to keep your ideas fresh.

Do you have a signature look to your art?
My signature look is the mixing of both glass and ceramics within the same piece.

How important is Hebrew to the field?
It is pretty important. In order to interact with my customers, I have to speak to them. My customers are not only tourists, but also locals, and restaurant goers (the studio is located under a restaurant.)

Is there potential for good earnings as an artist in Israel?
It is a very hard profession. To earn a good living, you have to do something else on the side. There are times that people buy more, and times they buy less. It helps to market yourself and go out to as many art fairs as possible.

What qualifications to do you recommend for someone interested in becoming an artist in Israel?
Although raw talent is crucial, it helps to formally study somewhere. This is key for developing talent and technique. However, it is very individual- some do better in a framework, and others need to work freely and do their own thing.

What advice would you give?
You have to be very motivated, and really want it. Don’t be afraid to talk to people, network, and try collaborating with other people like I did. Get yourselves out there, meet artists, and become a part of the artist-community.

How do you feel about living in Israel?
Love it! I am very happy with my decision to be here. I really feel that I found my home!

When I was in 12th grade, I told my parents that after I graduate, I’m going to Israel and never coming back! I was true to my word, and came right after graduating… It was my first time in Israel!