Saturday, September 11, 2010

Creative endeavours

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Craftiness is a funny thing and goes to the very heart of your personality: ultimately, it’s a question of taste…

One person’s gorgeous details is another person’s twee

One person’s minimalism is another person’s blank boredom

One person’s unique is another person’s inconsistent

I wrote my MA thesis on the subject of the market for craft purchasing in this country, based heavily on the Craft Council study into the same. I then went on to investigate the role and opportunities for Open Studios in central London on behalf of the creative industries organisation I was working for at the time.

The crux of the matter is: there is an audience for individualistic, story-based products that are local and/or sustainable and/or recycled and/or nostalgic.

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However, in this age of ‘PriMarnis’ and Swedish flatpack, it’s inevitable that the market demands a particular price point, and the retailer demands a particular profit margin.

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Of all this, I was aware.

What I had not anticipated was the market, and thus by extension, the retail outlet, judging the two products on a ‘like for like’ basis. I would not consider a kitchen crafted by hand by a local woodworker to be in any way comparable to one purchased from a nationwide, if not international, warehouse-based outlet. I’m not being a snob; it’s purely a matter of levels of engagement, levels of expectation and levels of quality, none of which, in that circumstance, to me, seem to be in any way on a par.

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However.

However.

If you get one person sitting in their room making things.

If that one person is not working in a sweatshop.

If the things have provenance, nostalgia, narrative and individuality…

They should surely not be compared at face value with a machined, industrialised, blandly consistent product made in its thousands, if not millions.

P1040504It’s a toughie, and I don’t think that craftspeople are entitled to special measures… A growing desire for the individual and personal (see the exponential continuing success of Not On The High Street  for example) should, with any luck, exist alongside a recognition for, understanding of, and willingness to financially recognise, the disparity between these products.

Or am I being overly optimistic?

Thoughts??

1 comment:

Katherine said...

Agree, agree, agree. People really don't get this. Occasionally I'm asked to knit something for people, and I won't do it (unless as a gift for someone) as I'd have to charge so much for my time, before we even think about yarn.

My stepdad is a woodturner, he supplies a few different places, some who understand how much it really costs him to make something, some who try and get him to cut his prices so much it's not worth his while doing it.

I think with there's a slow shift starting with people starting to realise less is more when it comes to owning stuff and it's better to have something of quality rather than lots of cheap rubbish. I think crafters like to support each other and buy other craft as gifts, we just need to encourage others to do so, and realise that you might be spending the same money on something smaller, but it's much better.