I am a student of history. In the area of my shop in Massachusetts, from the 1600s until about 1920, there were many local and even neighborhood pottery shops and producers. I have seen many of the wares produced in that era. Mass production ended that trade.
For many of the shops, up until the 1870s, the shops were run by multi taskers; that is, the potter may have been a farmer and to keep warm in the winter, he made pottery next to a red hot kiln. Some of the potters were lawyers. Some were other tradesmen. It really varied.
Their workmanship varied with the potter. Some produced very plain wares; for instance a tankard or cup was a straight cylinder with a very rough curved handle. These were the workmen. Some were artisans and did their best to use decorative techniques such as slip trailing and rough colors when they could find them.
I was a civil engineer and am now retired. Several parts of a CE's required knowledge include surveying and soil engineering (geotechnical engineering).
In my surveying experience, in analyzing various properties at the registry of deeds and the land court, I encountered colonial deeds and plans of a few potteries which had been conveyed. It was interesting to read the list of items in the conveyances; 2 potters wheels, clay, wares, kiln, fuel etc. Peaked my interest. These were real people.
As a geotechnical engineer, in New England, you WILL know clay. I used to know where to find clay in this area but, with advancing development, all of those areas are families back yards or parking lots.
I would like my attitude towards pottery to be the artisans approach slanted toward the workman approach. But, in this era, one must be artistic and creative to get attention. I have some ability at art and try to produce useful ware that has a style. I'll never stop searching for the style, but, in the back of my mind, the work of those potters from past ages is remembered.