jen's take on chicago's edition of the renegade craft fair got me thinking about craft and spending. jen sez (in part):
fortunately for my pocketbook, i'm just crafty enough myself that when i go to craft fairs like this i'm prevented from buying things because i keep thinking, "i could make that!" of course, i probably won't ever have the time, but it helps keep the cash in my wallet. so do the prices, actually. i don't begrudge any of the artists their right to make a profit (or at the very least support their crafty habit), but $35 for a t-shirt is sadly out of my price range. for the sake of all DIY designers out there today hopefully not all the shoppers were as poor (and potentially crafty) as i am.

i have analogous reactions to a lot of craft (as many people do - "i can do that!" is the bane of a vendor's existence).* the catch-22 in do-it-yourselfing for profit is its ostensible emphasis on technique rather than innovation; until one's skill level gets wa-ay up there, it's difficult to generate a really singular project with technique alone. that's why, i think, you have to give crafters credit for sheer labor (as jen also notes), and why it's important to award points for design - for, i guess, craft that crosses into that murky 'art' area. learning to generate needlepoint like mine, for example, would take about forty five minutes of practice (an hour if you're clumsy), and my image manipulation techniques are pathetic (ye olde xerox machine's enlarge and darken features - and i use them badly), but i like to think that i deserve a tip of the hat for design as well as for elbow grease (as i recall, the debbie harry portrait took me about six months to finish).**

shelling out to a crafter was one of the really enjoyable aspects of wedding planning; getting married was the perfect excuse to throw around funds i wouldn't normally have at my disposal. i knew that i wanted handmade soy candles for favors at the reception; technically i could have learned to pour them myself and researched a wholesale supplier for materials, but a) unless you're a cyborg bride, taking on more than one or two labor-intensive projects in addition to the rest of your wedding planning is just asking for a nervous breakdown, b) the candlemaker i found on etsy had much more experience and better supplies than i would have had, and c) it just felt good to be that candlemaker's first big order. she asked me afterward if she could use pictures of our order as examples of her work for future clients, and she started actively soliciting bigger projects online; i loved having had a little to do with that.

i have no huge point here, but i do believe that crafters should (when possible) compensate each other for inspiration. when i can afford to say "good on you for making a knitted ms. pac man cuff! here's $20!", i do - and when i can't, i let them know i'm impressed. that won't buy supplies, but it's still worth something.

*on a related note, i find open source art like cory arcangel's super mario clouds really interesting. i can't imagine feeling secure enough in my own originality that i'd want to encourage people to replicate my projects.

**i'm not calling my stuff art, mind you - i simply know more about my own skills (or lack thereof) than i do about others'.


jacob said...

well, after watching six- to twelve-year-olds do art projects (for my dissertation) that looked better than what i could produce now, let me say that even "non-professional" crafts look impressive to me. i also think that we (americans?) have an unhealthy approach to the arts - you're either a professional or you don't do it at all.

on an unrelated note, did you get in your "veronica mars" viewing this past weekend? m. and i are halfway through the season 2 dvd - it's definitely a show that is still rewarding on second viewing.

lauren said...

i think you're right about the cultural thing. that's what makes etsy so interesting - it's allowed at least a handful of crafters to turn their hobby into something like a part-time business (and it makes it a lot easier for full-time craftspeople to drum up business).

dear lord have we been hitting the veronica mars. we're trying to savor the flavor, but we've still already busted through the first two DVDs. and the second viewing thing makes sense, as in the first you're either appreciating the throwaways and slacking on following all of the back story, or vice versa. is it wrong to think logan is hot? i kind of think logan is hot.

vaguely related: the go fug yourself girls gave kristen bell the 'overexposed at fashion week' award.

jacob said...

i have been requested to inform you that m. has "absolutely no idea what you are talking about" in saying logan is hot. she then sighed deeply.

i then informed her that jason dohring is a scientologist, which made her sad.

lauren said...

say it ain't so, xenu! i think you cured me. well, almost.

i decided that the episode we watched last night ("silence of the lamb") has my favorite banter thus far. it went something like

Veronica: So, what made you decide to be a cop?
Leo: It's the same old tired story. I was sent here by the agency to do a strip-o-gram for Inga, an armed robbery call came in, I figured I was in uniform anyway, so what the hell.
Veronica: So you're saying you just kind of stumbled into it.
Leo: What I'm trying to say is this uniform is a tear-away.

now i love deputy leo.