“When you buy something from an artist, you're buying more than an object. You're buying hundreds of hours or errors and experimentation. You're buying years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You're not buying just one thing. You are buying a piece of a heart, a piece of a soul ... a small piece of someone else's life.”
It is all about connection
I hold an unshakeable conviction, one borne of years of experience. It is my belief that when we offer an insight into what lies behind handmade work – when we share that a single piece is a part of a vast web of experience, study, inspiration and creating, very often going back years – then we afford it its true value.
‘Handmade’ is not merely about commodities, it is personal, for maker and purchaser alike. When makers sell just a ‘product’, they strip their work of its provenance and its reason for existing, and orphan it from the mind and hands from which it sprang.
Most mass-produced work consists of these castaways, items sent into the world to fend for themselves, and almost as quickly as they are purchased, discarded. Handmade work doesn’t deserve to suffer this indignity, it simply requires a different approach from designer-makers.
It is all about connection. And designer-makers must be the catalyst. But where does a maker start? How do they locate what they need to say and then distil it into a short, impactful statement that sounds like them? And how do they ensure that everything they do supports and honours their craft, and the customers who wish to engage with it?
By reaching out.
Just like handmade work, my work is personal
For a designer-maker, locating and then confidently sharing the full extent of why their handmade work matters is naturally daunting, but it isn’t as scary, or as complicated, as everyone imagines. Whilst requiring courage, ‘opening up’ can actually be a joyful as well as an enlightening experience. What is required is a willingness to tap into the deep currents that lie beneath what we do and to share our discoveries authentically.
And authenticity lies at the root of it all.
I don’t mind admitting that I have had quite a journey with authenticity, and I know what it feels like to speak without it: the debilitating impression of being unnoticed and unheard, and not achieving one’s potential. It was a running theme of my early life, and counteracting it for myself, and for others, is the driving force behind my work now.
My own experience – one that is still unfolding – has attuned me to the seemingly subtle, but ultimately profound, impact of expressing oneself authentically and in doing so owning the innate value in what it is we create.
Makers tell me all the time that analysing why they make can feel like an insurmountable task. Where do they start?
The essence of making, woven as it is into every aspect of a designer-maker’s personality, is composed of such fine threads that its presence is hard to spot, but finding it can be a profound experience.
When a maker expresses themselves fully, the difference in their business is palpable, and measurable.
This is my mission.
I know, with absolute certainty, the fundamental difference it makes when creative people locate and then express the purpose behind what it is they create.
“Authenticity is more than speaking; Authenticity is also about doing. Every decision we make says something about who we are.”
So, how does a maker quantify something that is so integral a part of their being? They do it with self-reflection and courage and with a guide holding a torch to light the way.
I am here to guide makers, to underpin them and to pose the tough questions that will ultimately steer them to the nub of what motivates and inspires them. When creative people locate this nugget of gold, the sky is the limit.
“Do you have the courage? Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.”
Elizabeth Gilbert (quoting Jack Gilbert)
Authenticity is in everything you do
Authenticity is not just about the personal story a maker tells, it’s the whole package. The impression a website has on a visitor – it’s look, tone, feel and personality; the quality of photography – lifestyle/product/studio/maker shots; the specificity of detail in product descriptions; the visual impact of a show stand; the successful use of social media; the full customer experience.
To be truly distinctive, all these elements must be in balance. Like an arch, each individual component sharing the weight of the whole. And authenticity is the seam that runs through the centre of it all, consisting of self-knowledge and self-belief.
So, where does a maker begin?