In honor of the "all souls" season, I couldn't help but resurrect an issue from an earlier post.
The craft world is being sucked into a vampire movie. The cast of characters are being overwhelmed by zombies sucking the life blood of the craft's tradition of creativity, quality, and mastery of skills. We are catering to an economy increasingly filled with copycat workshops and "me-too" tutorials that erode ethical behavior and diminish respect for original work, uniqueness, creativity, and intellectual property.
A response to a post on ?????:
A previous "blog post struck home. I began teaching out of economic necessity, then wrote my first book simply to have published proof of my right to be intellectually associated with the development of my specialized techniques. These techniques are now being devoured by the crafting world. Only one person labels her work stating from whom she learned the technique (from my book), but others don't and simply copy my work."
"And then there are people who not only learn the technique from my book but even copy the workshop format that I described on my blog."
"At long last I am in a position to sell my work through appropriate venues and so am planning to retreat from teaching. I've met some lovely people through workshops, but a lot of vampires too -- such as those who teach my technique the following week after they get home from my workshop, and then ask if I have any printed handouts."
"Then there's a person from (city, state, country) who even takes my words and represents them as hers (as well as using my technique for spectacular financial gain). All this is only the tip of the iceberg."
Unfortunatley, the basic thread of this story is becoming more common -- the merchandising of making exploits new technologies and brings in fresh blood, but comes at a cost as well.
Publishers and books on craft media are increasingly suggesting to include instructions and tutorials. Exciting, interesting, or innovative work is no longer enough to assure sufficient sales.
The new D.I.Y. and experiential economy is a double edged sword. The crafty scene creates new opportunity for a larger portion of the population to buy into the romance of "craft" and the joy of making. Great news for some venues.
Yet, I feel some disappointment that this increased interest in craft is not generating a rising tide for mastering craft skills, innovation, and signature artistic voice. I am particularly concerned about "ring-a-day" projects and weekend "by-the-numbers" tutorial copies. Are we sucking our own life blood from craft or giving it a transfusion?
At first I thought this technology enabled popularity was interesting and a growth of a new market for craft, but now I am not so sure. It seems that the only thing that craft has sold is the romance of making.
We are not developing a new audience for buying our work. Instead we are developing a craft economy of wanna-be artists "I love your work and want to make one for myself" along with crafty people selling their work at bottom prices to recover their costs.