Who buys handmade in times of austerity?

Agne-Ashe-hand-painted-silk-scarf-Valeria-black-pink-clup1 copy

“Who buys craft in times of austerity?” The answer, according to the UK  Craft Council, who produced a report in 2010 just two years after the global financial crash, is older, educated women. Below is an extract from their report giving more details about the types of people who buy craft.

From UK Craft Council ‘Consuming Craft’ report 2010.

You may have noticed I sneakily switched from ‘handmade’ to ‘craft’ in my opening questions, which then begs the question “What is the difference between craft and handmade?” Now this report is essentially concerned with what people consider as ‘craft’ as opposed to simply handmade. Obviously, you can have handmade pastries, but I think most people frequently do consider handmade and craft to be interchangeable. However, if you dig a little deeper ‘craft’ appears to suggest a range of connected perceptions. This intriguing radar (spider) chart below shows how different words are more or less associated with craft particularly with relation to art and design.

From UK Craft Council ‘Consuming Craft’ report 2010

And in the chart we see that the term ‘handmade’ features strongly as does ‘workmanship’ which is hardly surprising, but  also ‘rural’, which, in the 21st century struck me as rather odd. Handmade ceramics, handblown glass and handwoven textiles are all very popular these days and don’t necessarily call to mind a rural aesthetic. For me, it transpires that my painted silk, though handmade, is often not considered craft. Also from my own experience it is not ‘older, educated women’ who are my customers in these times of austerity. Interestingly, it appears to be their husbands, sons and daughters who are buying my work as special presents. It’s heartwarming to know that even during these challenging times mums are still regarded as exceptional and merit a quality, genuine, handmade gift.

Agnes-Ashe-hand-painted-silk-scarf-Valeria-apricot-clup copy


Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

13 thoughts on “Who buys handmade in times of austerity?”

  1. Great post Agnes. My wife is continually creating through knitting and explores other avenues of creativity through Japanese dyeing, shibori, shift etc . So I think, people who understand the uniqueness of handmade and anticipate the longevity of such craft would be those who buy . Often the buyers in turn are also creators. I could write an article but I will stop. Keep creating and happily selling I trust.

    1. Yes, the general conclusion of this very long report was that buyers/collectors were often makers themselves, but in a different craft discipline. My only comment on that is most of the artisan/craft people working professionally full time in the UK barely earn the minimum wage. Yes, they do appreciate the skill, time and creativity employed to make other types of craft pieces, but unfortunately do not have the spare cash to be collectors.

  2. This is very interesting. I agree that buyers of art and craft, from my location (PA, USA) are older, usually women, and educated. I am also finding that younger people (around 25+ to 35 or so) are becoming more interested but maybe are still mostly looking as opposed to buying (citing money as a reason not to buy right now) but maybe this is the foundation for future buyers.

    1. Yes, I agree about the possibility of future buyers, but can’t help feeling that this just might be another ‘voguish trend’ that will evaporate when the global economy picks up. It will be interesting to see what effect 3D printing has on handmade work.
      So pleased you solved the water problem for the horses – an old fashioned, non 21st-century, handwork (hardworking😅) solution.

      1. Yes, they’re lovely. We never had any horses, but for some reason my mother loved to paint them. The last painting she finished (it had a very romantic feel) was a horse standing under an enormous oak tree.

  3. Really interesting report and for me unexpected conclusion- maybe people become more discriminating with their money when times are tighter. I think that spider chart is a piece of craft all on its own😉

    1. Yes, I thought the spider chart was a brilliant way to represent the findings with a kind of visual punch!! I suppose it’s not surprising that such a clever representation engages us as we think we are creatures of words, but for most of us it’s what we see that so often has a lasting impression. “A picture’s worth a . . . . . !!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: