Craft Identity Statement - Your opinion matters !

Dear Crafthausers,

I want to thank you in advance for taking a few minutes of your time today to help me/crafthaus with a really important task. Please read on, thanks!


Last fall, the American Craft Council led a Think Tank on developing an identity for craft in partnership with the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design and crafthaus. Its purpose was to examine to what extent the word 'craft' still had resonance and meaning in contemporary culture as a good descriptor of the creative work produced in studios today.


What is the background?

It seems obvious to many of us that most everybody in the craft world has their own definition of what craft is, which in turn can be contradictory and confusing for the outside world and, quite frankly, for us artists too. Shouldn't we begin to establish a common language about craft, what it is and does so that we can all better communicate with and engage our customers, partners and the broader audience outside of craft as well? Is it possible to establish a common brand for craft?


What can we do to talk about craft in a way that is more unified and easier to understand for more people?

The Think Tank brought together makers and leaders from across the craft field to get a start on this question. We began to develop an identity statement for craft, talked about the brand of craft, or lack thereof, and a list of commonly held values we all have when it comes to us and our work, values that capture the essence of the craft community.

This first attempt at a unifying statement is what we are putting in front of you now for your feedback and commentary.  This is important, will you help us, please? 


2 tasks: Answer 3 questions and fill out a brief survey.


(1) Look at the poster below (this is the craft identity statement our group came up with) and answer 3 questions about these statements. You don't have to agree with any of them or you might agree with all of them, either way please give us your honest opinion. Any additional suggestions or changes to the statements we came up with, feel free to mention them.


Part 1 Feedback Questions
(1) Does the above craft identity statement reflect your view of craft and the craft community?

o If yes, why?

o If no, what would you change?



(2) Does the identity statement have the right framework to elevate the public’s understanding of contemporary craft?

o If yes, why?

o If no, what wording would you change?



(3) Will the statement drive any action by those who do not understand craft?

o If yes, what actions?
o If no, what needs to be changed to engage the public to explore craft and the community?



Everyone on crafthaus can respond to these 3 questions publicly below or email me their responses privately to crafthauseditor_at_live_dot_com.

I will collect all answers and bring them to the American Craft Council where we will continue to work on this topic using your input. I will keep you informed as we move along with the statements.


Part 2

Here is a link to the brief questionnaire which the American Craft Council asks the crafthaus community and everybody who is reading this and is involved with craft to respond to. This will provide invaluable insight so I urge everyone to spend 3 minutes of their time to help with this. Thank you!



Click here to take the ACC survey !


Thank you so very much for your help ! I look forward to your comments.


Brigitte Martin

Crafthaus Editor



Views: 535

Tags: ACC, Craft, Identity, Statement, Survey, Tank, Think, brand, craft, crafthaus, More…matters, questions


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Comment by Brigitte Martin on February 18, 2014 at 8:51am

Thank you Kimberly !

Comment by Kimberly Nogueira on February 17, 2014 at 8:47pm

1. Sort of, all of those things are true to some degree for me as I read them.   What seems to be missing from the assortment of phrases above is how much intense effort and hours of repetitive input the making takes, which is crucial to developing a craft.  I can't relate to the word "we" because nobody I know on a personal basis uses the term craft. 

2. I can only speak to my own surroundings, the public I am familiar with (mainly tourists)... the community of makers that I interact with here where I live all use the term "art" for paintings, pottery, jewelry, etc and this seems to make sense to the people who buy this work as well.  Both the makers and buyers here are comfortable with the understanding that anything made by hand with some amount of effort and skill is art. Work in these various mediums are sold in the art gallery here, so they must all be art.  I recently enjoyed reading Bruce Metcalf's articles about contemporary art vs craft. This sort of thinking would make no sense to my local community I'm guessing, and I hate to say this but for MANY people, if you say "craft", they think of arts and crafts as in grammar school arts and crafts. The slogans and phrases above would probably really confuse people like this.  I think "fine craft" makes more sense for many people rather than just "craft". It's like fine art but not quite, it's fine craft.  On a par. Just not painting, drawing, sculpture or architecture, according to the definition. 

3. For the people I come into contact with who purchase paintings, pottery, jewelry, etc (craft, but what they call art), the  statement might seem very confusing. Just make is as simple as possible: fine craft, it's like fine art, just the medium is different.

If you want to change anything, do it in the grammar schools, start when the public is young.

Comment by Brigitte Martin on February 5, 2014 at 10:32am

Thank you 2Roses!

Comment by 2Roses on February 5, 2014 at 10:21am

One of the points that all of this seem to be at odds with is the idea that we can make fine craft a populist ideal. The stated goal here is to "brand" fine craft and by doing so implant an idea and/or context in the mind of the consumer that compels them to action (ie a preference for fine craft).

Luxury goods makers have already done this. The message is:

1. Fine craft is expensive.

2. Fine craft is exclusive.

3. Fine craft is the very best quality specifically because it is hand made by highly skilled artisans.

All well and good, BUT, the problem luxury goods makers are having with their brand identity is that machine made goods are impinging on some of the brand promises, specifically in the area of quality, which impacts the value proposition, ie price. Rudely put, mass manufacturing is producing goods of equal or near equal quality as hand made, thus why pay the premium price handmade demands?

A lot of you will argue "creativity". That's true. We are artisans, and our work is often stunningly creative, which also connects directly back to points 1 an 2 above.

Next, consider the "crafty". This is the armada of people trying to make hand made items at a populist price point ie $49-$300. The disconnect in much of this level of work if trying to equate "hand made" with "fine craft". The ever present point that people like to make is that some how because anything is "hand made" it is somehow superior to something that is not hand made and thus should be supported with a deferential price. This is obviously not true, but we cling to the delusion.

In large part, our problem in fine craft is connected to economics in our view. BTW, "our problem" is sales and sellability. The growth in the number of craft makers of all types has expanded at the same time as the available market for what they make has experienced the greatest contraction in US history (eroding middle class). The portion of the population who can afford the things we make has shrunk catastrophically. So much so that it is becoming a political issue.

So are we going to come up with a catchy slogan that convinces people who don't have disposable income to spend what money they have on luxury handmade goods? Not likely.

We're going to compete for a shrinking market for our higher priced items and develop lower priced lines to appeal the populist market. Maybe the message is why buy a mass produced item when for about the same price you can by something more creative crafted by an artisan. Can you compete?

Comment by Brigitte Martin on February 4, 2014 at 4:44pm

Thank you, John !

Comment by John Lunn on February 4, 2014 at 4:27pm

(1) Does the above craft identity statement reflect your view of craft and the craft community?

o If yes, why?

X If no, what would you change?

Craft is a handmade object. No more no less. To give it a higher purpose seems merely to inflate the maker, not the craft.



(2) Does the identity statement have the right framework to elevate the public’s understanding of contemporary craft?

o If yes, why?

X If no, what wording would you change?

What in the world does "elevate" or public understanding have to do with craftsmanship? This sounds totally like PR, not a definition of craft.



(3) Will the statement drive any action by those who do not understand craft?

o If yes, what actions?
o If no, what needs to be changed to engage the public to explore craft and the community?

You got me on this. one. The public buys crafts all the time. Maybe not local, or our crafts but I'm not really sure what it is that's really being promoted here.

Those of us who are driven to create may want or need to differentiate from those that produce crafts simply for economic reasons. I guess it's for the buyer to decide and if they can't see a difference, will explaining it to them really help?


Comment by Brigitte Martin on February 4, 2014 at 11:39am

Thank you, Pat!

Comment by Pat Morrow on February 4, 2014 at 11:32am

I think it's great that you are bringing this to our collective attention. What hits me first - and it's the first 30 sec or less that matter - is there is so much copy and multiple statements it becomes confusing. What is the take away meant to be?? "Everybody Makes a Mark" - and so ... what? If you want action "Make Your Own Mark" says more...I think. The design is not appealing. A series of posters with one large photo and a simple statement would make a bigger impact perhaps. It's a good start but doesn't hit the 'mark'.

Comment by Brigitte Martin on February 3, 2014 at 2:06pm

Thank you, Carolina !!

Comment by Carolina Cole on February 3, 2014 at 1:47pm

Question 1.

Your curated statement doesn't reflect my view. I have trouble with the wording of 'hands at play'. It implies that craft is something that you do 'cuz you feel like it', it doesn't infer that some of us feel a burning desire to give a voice to a specific concept or technique.

Then 'make a mark, make it your own'.  Obvious, otherwise we wouldn't be doing what we're doing.

2. & 3.  Just who is your audience for this campaign?  Consumers of crafted items; whatever the medium, are already invested in the genre.  I guess I have a large disconnect between the words contemporary and craft.  Personally I'm more comfortable with fine crafts like fine arts.

The statement isn't a call to action to the buying public.  It's also not measurable.  It's just a slogan.

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