I’ve been running into a topic recently that has brought me out of my blogging hibernation!
Whether it’s from subtle (not so subtle to me) comments from makers I chat with at markets or hearing about the reason as to why someone wasn’t accepted into a specific market, there are obviously varying definitions of handmade.
Don’t we just LOVE labels? We always seem to feel the need to classify. So ok, yes, let’s say that a handmade “scale” exists. I agree that there are things that are MORE handmade than others. To help illustrate this I would place pottery, for example, on one end of this spectrum, because you are literally molding something with your hands. And that is amazing….and even in my wildest Ghost fantasy I know my lump of clay would only end up as maybe a smoother lump of clay.
But what is on the other end of the spectrum? As a candlemaker, do I fit somewhere in the middle? I don’t make the soy wax, the jars, the wicks, and the fragrance….I simply “put things together.” What about someone who designs bracelets, but doesn’t make the beads? Are they on the far end? But no matter where each of us fall on the scale, the point I want to make right here is, quite bluntly, WHO CARES?
Isn’t creativity enough?
Why do we even have to PAY ATTENTION to any sort of scale? Anyone who chooses to be creative is being brave, being vulnerable and is bringing something into the world that wasn’t there before…..and yes, I’m getting all Brene Brown on your ass right now! Creating is something to be applauded, to celebrate. It’s hard enough to be a small business, an entrepreneur….we are already being judged by some for taking a more risky approach to traditional streams of income as well as by those who see what we do as simply a “hobby”….so I really just wish there was less judgment from within the group of entrepreneurs daring to be different.
I guess it’s yet another time when I feel that #communityovercompetition doesn’t hold true. And it’s disheartening.
So, what I’m proposing is a not a shift away from the word handmade, but to increase the worthiness of the word creative. I would love to see them both held to the same standard. One thing is not better than the other. This is not a conversation about comparing two creatives in the same type (refer back to my lump of clay vs an exceptionally sculpted and glazed mug). That would be where talent, skill and years of experience come into play. As someone who cherishes and promotes makers, I obviously highly value the learning, dedication, hard work and artistry that goes into the amazing pieces I see at all of the markets I attend. It would be a conversation about PRICING and THAT is a conversation for a different day.
My intention here is simply to help us look at how we define handmade, who we see as a maker, an artisan, a creative….to be open to all forms of creativity, and to be inclusive. A beautiful wood sign could be handpainted or could be created with vinyl lettering. Does it matter if an eye-catching print was designed using a tablet? Or is it just about a customer walking away with something they can't wait to bring home? Something created by YOU!