Monday, June 6, 2011

Handmade in America

As a working artist and former co-owner of a brick-and-mortar craft/art gallery, my life is filled with art, craft and artists.

I know how much we are all struggling in 'this economy.' Customers want our prices to compete with Walmart and Target while our materials costs soar.  And this comes after several decades of the big chains' downward push on prices, which have trained us all to worship the lowest price for everything.

It seems like nearly everything can be imported from China, too. And that in the 3rd World, original designs by American/Western artists can be easily knocked off, reproduced and re-imported back into our own markets at lower prices than we ourselves can produce them. No matter how poor the quality of the knock-off may be, they find their way to market. And we artists are again left to try to figure out how to ply our craft, achieve profitability, and satisfy our souls.

And then along comes a 'Handmade in America' movement that asks us to support American artists and designers. To be willing to pay a fairer market value for creative goods. To know the makers of those goods. And to understand the difference between an original piece of art or craft and a reproduction of it.

What else do you get for paying a fairer market value for artistic creations? For one thing, more originality. You won't be consuming cookie-cutter works that come from the corporatized method of production/distribution. For another, it's likely that the materials in your piece will be authentic and of high quality. Sterling instead of pot metal. Real stones instead of paste. A few steps up the quality ladder, instead of the lowest common denominator.

And you'll get the satisfaction of supporting artists of your own culture. Of doing you part to assure that artists will be here in the future. If you buy local art, you'll also get the satisfaction of keeping more of the money you spend in your own community, enhancing your local economy.

And, most likely, you'll hear that deep, quiet vocabulary of an artist who also lives in your culture, and who understands you a little better than a large, faraway factory in another land.


  1. Thanks for saying what needs to be said about buying handmade! I've shared it on my facebook page!

  2. Thank you so much for this blogpost. I really don't think that the general public understands about art and especially the metal arts. Not even my own brother!

  3. Wonderful and thoughtful post, thank you!

  4. Well said, Tana. It is the same here in Canada. Educating the public about the value of quality, artisan made goods is so important in our mass-produced worshiping culture.

  5. Thank, Julie! Though I wrote this from an 'American' perspective, it could be rewritten from any Western perspective about any country. I hope we can find creative, effective ways to keep educating our fellow citizens about quality artisan goods!