Everything begins with a concept. In school, we were taught that it was always necessary to have a clear image in your mind of exactly what you were making before you sat down to the wheel to begin forming the clay. Personally, I dont find this tactic necessary, and at times I feel that it can even be a hindrance. Some of my best forms and ideas come when I am responding intuitively to the material, or to the process of making. Something as simple as a shadow line cast by the contour of the piece itself can take me off on an unexpected tangent, and turn the object in an entirely new direction. I do feel that sketches are a good reminder of the basic aesthetic and formal vocabulary that I am trying to work from, and an anchor; helping me to not go too far off in any one direction.