This post has been spurred on by 2 things – a blog post by Ally Shaw from Feral Strumpet and the fact that today, on Etsy, thousands of shop holders are putting their shop on vacation for the day to protest at Etsy allowing some factory-made items being sold alongside handmade goods.
As an artist what you make is your livelihood; you make a living from art. For many people this is hard to reconcile – one, that you actually sell things and it’s not a hobby; and, secondly, that people actually choose to do this as an occupation. We all should be valued. At a recent craft fair she attended, Ally Shaw from Feral Strumpet says, “I had a difficult time explaining that I was a local Yorkshire artist, and that everything was handmade and carefully sourced. My prices didn’t make sense to people, who were seeing bins of things for a pound”. Handmade doesn’t mean extortionate prices – in my shop I have different price points for different budgets.
I have attended a variety of craft fairs in the past and these are a snippet of the comments of what people said about my work: ‘I can do better than that’, ‘my niece etc makes those’. What, the exact same piece? Granted, we all get our influences from somewhere, but people forget or don’t even think about the work that goes into a completed piece. They forget about the actual idea, the concept which actually starts the piece off, sourcing of the high quality materials used to assemble the work and then the time to physically make the item. It’s not just the time that goes into making one piece, but the time that goes into turning your work into a business. People who go to a 9 to 5 job wouldn’t give up their time for free to do this, so why should an artist? We enjoy what we do, and the excitement and pride you feel when an idea is manifested is huge. Handmade art should have value and should be valued, especially at a time when our high streets are, in the main, full of generic shops. Wouldn’t our lives be dull if we all had the same jobs and if our homes were full of the same decorative pieces? Buying handmade lets you, as a buyer, define your own style, instead of following the mass-produced style of the high streets.