13 Myths about Handmade Artists. A Buyer’s Guide

13 Myths about Handmade Artists

For a long time, I have been thinking about the fact that we artisans are often, in one way or another, “in plain sight.”

We get to know our customers when we give them an order; we correspond with them, forming a kind of “picture” of each of us as individuals and of all handmade artists in general – a collective image.

An exciting and sometimes not very credible vision emerges. Notions and even a kind of myths are formed. And these myths are not always us, a handmade artist-like, and most importantly, they sometimes bring us moral and sometimes even material damage – in the form of discounts, additional services, or even free and even uninteresting work.

I propose to debunk some myths about handmade artists.

Myth 1. Handmade Artist Can Do Anything

If a handmade artist does something with her hands and does it well, she can quickly master any creativity. And she has all the possibilities for that.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If a handmade artist can knit, she does not necessarily knows how to sew. Or she can, but not very well. Or she can sew quite well, but she doesn’t like it. And indeed, the handmade artist who can and loves to sew, knit, embroider here, and get up for the woodworking machine. So it is not quite right to say something to a handmade artist, “Oh, you are so good at it, well, what do you have to sew me a coat!

I had to deal with such “requests” about the woodworking machine – this is from my own experience. One frustrated customer genuinely wondered: if you make toys out of wool, what should you make a toy out of wood?

Myth 2. Handmade artists can do any work quickly

The handmade artist is a master of time and has as many hours in a day as she needs. Or vice versa, she can speed up time if necessary and make, for example, varnish dry not in two days but in two or three hours.

No, she can’t, unfortunately. And an experienced handmade artist will try to schedule time with a margin: something can go wrong, or at the most inopportune time, there may be a lack of just a tiny piece of wool, a pair of eyes for a toy, a button of the right shape. And it is indeed impossible to do a quality work in a hurry or force the paint to dry faster. So it’s very important to make orders in advance.

Or here’s another thing – “Do it fast.” Yes, those who embroider – make it much faster than someone who first picked up a needle. You can “quickly” a whiny two-year-old child to make a doll out of rags or a car from a box. But high-quality work takes time – choosing materials thoughtfully, drawing a sketch carefully, creating a beautiful face, and attaching details accurately and symmetrically are necessary.

Myth 3. Handmade artists can make any order for any customer

Sometimes we get different requests from customers. Someone asks to make a bunny with two heads, someone to make a poop (sorry). I, for example, terribly do not like to make small toys for sling beads, but customers love them for some reason. And if I find small toys a drag, I can’t make them attractive, and this kind of work generally depresses me. I tried to change my mind for a long time and then stopped, deciding that if I didn’t want to, I won’t. Why torture yourself and the customer?

Handmade artists can refuse to work if they do not feel it is possible for some reason – they do not like the technique in which to work, the subject, or something else. Sometimes, fortunately, quite rarely, you meet such a specific customer that you know right away that it’s not worth the work.

I, for example, love and know how to embroider beads, but from the embroidery picture of a famous artist, I certainly give up. However, do not despair; there is always that needlewoman who will agree to fulfill your order and do it perfectly and with great pleasure!

Myth 4. A handmade artist always has all the materials in the correct quantity

Every handmade artist is once given a magic closet: just close and open the door, and all the necessary materials in any quantity, size, texture, and color appear there. Exactly when you need it. Eh, I want such a closet! By the way, if the materials from the magic cabinet – why are they so expensive?

Unfortunately, no matter how you stock up on supplies, you can’t account for everything. And it often happens that the familiar and most appropriate materials are removed from production, and here, in this case, on the search for a replacement, have to spend more than one day, go shopping, and explore the range of more than a dozen online stores.

And also, it is not always in stock, in a store, or in principle; there are materials or parts that the buyer dreams of. Or there are, but in another city or another country and for a huge sum of money. And then you have to be prepared that the part of your dream will be replaced by something more affordable. But in fact, it is okay. Sometimes this new option is much more enjoyable!

Myth 5. Handmade artists only do crafts

The handmade artist doesn’t eat, drink, sleep, or go anywhere but only makes, makes… She has no job, family, relatives, friends, and other needs besides crafts.

Of course, she doesn’t! And if another artisan sometimes really forgets to eat and can tear herself away for an hour or two from sleep if she does not pull herself away from her needlework, then the more mundane and boring affairs and obligations will bring her back down to earth. I’m not talking about her husband and children, of course. I am talking about the household, paying bills, maintaining relationships, and often a job, which could be more enjoyable. Still, it allows you to pay those same bills and the needlework.

Many customers exclaim with genuine surprise: Why, right now, you can not start doing this? What do you mean you are not home and will only be late at night? Why only on weekends, and why “maybe”? And why such a tiny needlepoint you’re going to embroider the whole two weeks, there’s work for the day? Precisely because to be able to do creative work and make cool things, needleworkers solve a lot of other problems.

13 Myths about Handmade Artists

– 13 Myths about Handmade Artists

Myth 6. Handmade artists will find it a blessing to make an order just for you

After all, she’s making anyway; what difference does it make, what, and for whom to make? Sometimes some of your colleagues or friends offer to do something for them – what difference does it make what to sew?

This is a very difficult situation. Far from always, the needlewoman is ready to fulfill an order, and it doesn’t matter how native or close and dear friend it is. There are subtle nuances: you can’t refuse – people get offended, and you still have to communicate with them, live and work. The needlewoman is expected to do what she was asked before others, cheaper or entirely free – we’re not strangers! At the same time will not even think to pay at least the materials – a skein of yarn costs less than 10 dollars, do not go broke, and a good relationship is much more expensive! Worse is when you have to make a free masterpiece from the customer’s material.

Often there is a situation where an item made by me is treated more prejudicially than the same item made by an unfamiliar needlewoman and even more so for the money. First, we are always more careful about what we have paid money for. Secondly, this prejudice may be “born in childhood” – remember, your parents probably thought your friend is a better dancer, recites poems, more help around the house, and studies harder, and her grades are better, unlike yours.

Years later, it turns out that everything was not so rosy, but no one hurried to apologize to you. So in the situation with orders for friends and relatives – we are expected more, not always reasonable, and therefore stressed out needlewomen, when they are asked to do something and find a plausible excuse not to do it – does not work.

It’s not that the needlewoman is conceited, not valuing your relationship, or sorry! In the end, many needlewomen are even happy to agree. The important thing to remember is this: the needlewoman most likely has other orders or something to do, or the work will take too much time. Discuss with her what you would like to order, clarify how much it might cost and how long it will take to make, and ask what information she needs so that she can fulfill your order with pleasure. Most likely, you will agree.

Myth 7. The crafter will give you a discount, an extra gift, or even be willing to do it for free

Simply because you are such a wonderful person. Especially if you – a relative, friend, or colleague.

Maybe, of course. No one is saying you’re not excellent. But gifts and discounts are worth the time and money. And must be justified: you’re a regular customer or bring clients, you make a big order, or somehow help the needlewoman – sometimes sitting with her child, or running to the post office, or you know when and where to bring handmade goods and learn how to negotiate a good discount on a small wholesale batch. Or you’re the world’s only supplier of unicorn hide hair, without which this needlewoman can’t make any of her work.

If you want a discount, buying one tiny piece for $10 and still want a masterpiece – you will have to justify and negotiate, but you will not necessarily agree. After all, your work, no matter what you do, costs money and time too. Are you willing to give a discount or gift to your clients?

Myth 8. A master cannot live without handicrafts so she will take up everything. Any handmade task is a pleasure for her.

She can live without needlework, but not for a very long time – she may get fidgety, so as soon as the opportunity arises, she will bend her head over the next masterpiece. But as for the rest – there is a chance that she will not take up and not for everything.

An artist is creative, and creative impulses are unpredictable in terms of their timing and the object of application. And it’s not about caprice. I often want to embroider, but any proposal to sew even the smallest toy causes dislike.

Most often because the last time I couldn’t stand it, I wanted to sew; it was sewn many things, and the need to be in the sewing has been exhausted. So if you, with your idea, did not get into a creative mood needlewoman, she is likely to either refuse or work with her will not work, and the needlewoman can not get pleasure from this work. And in connection with this, we will be unable to provide the proper perfection. And the joy of creation and achievement of perfection for the artist – it is essential.

However, most masters like new and interesting tasks; they love a challenge. Therefore, if you will not ask the master of dolls to make ceramic dishes, send a photo of the toy of your dreams and discuss the possibility of repeating it with her. The master, having carefully thought everything over, will agree!

Myth 9. The handmade artist reads your mind

The most dangerous misconception. No, she doesn’t. Therefore, she will try to ask you as many questions as possible. And the more experienced crafter, the more questions she will ask you. So if you have something to say about your order, wishes, timing, or other nuances, it is better to say, so do not get upset. And even better to write.

Of course, there are many works where, in principle, everything is clear. If a buyer can see the work with their own eyes and touch it with their hands, try it on, and attach it to something – that’s a big win for the artist and the buyer. In other cases, there are many factors: size, color, weight, composition, and more, even if it is carefully described on the product page. Even if the product is pictured with a ruler.

As they say, appetite comes with food, and often an artist asked to make “exactly the same” product may hear, “Yes, exactly the same, but lilac, didn’t I specify? I then changed my mind, probably just thought about it and forgot to say – please redo it. It is fundamental! Rare crafter will agree to fulfill an order “to your liking” – if you want to repeat the already known, ready-made – it will follow the same scheme and technology as much as possible.

Myth 10. Handmade artists are capricious and fastidious: on principle, they cannot realize exactly what you want

Handmade artists will only realize your idea if they like to do something new that they have not tried before. Or, on the contrary, to repeat the work they know exactly how to do. And if a handmade artist explains that something cannot be made, then most likely her words are based on experience, knowledge of the material from which the product will be made, its properties, the method of manufacture, and the results of use.

Most handmade artists are responsible people. And so they know that if they agree to do something known to turn out badly, instead of fun, the needlewoman and the customer will get one disappointment! Therefore, most often, if the needlewoman refuses to do the order, the reason is not her stubbornness but her experience. She has probably done something similar, but it did not work out.

Myth 11. Handmade artists make their products from used materials

Do you remember Myth 4? No, the handmade artist doesn’t have a magic closet. She goes to real stores and buys new materials for real money. And she makes magical things with them. Of course, some types of creativity involve using old materials, but artisans are unlikely to risk their reputations by selling goods on sites like Etsy.

The assumption of other buyers about used materials instead refers to opinions such as:

My kid at school makes these things;
I can make it myself in half an hour.

Everyone is entitled to his opinion and has the right to change it or live with it.

13 Myths about Handmade Artists

– 13 Myths about Handmade Artists

Myth 12. Handmade artists are always full of ideas and can come up with something incredible at once

The ability to come up with something unbelievable cannot be controlled. Moreover, the more you deliberately try to develop something incredible, the less it succeeds. Something fabulous in the mind of a handmade artist appears by itself. At first glance, it seems easy. But it is not so – all easy, simple, and simultaneously ingenious – the process of complex and very long brain work, and almost without the knowledge of the handmade artist.

The brain of creative nature compiles and processes the data itself – things seen, heard, mastered, and once, and always at the most unexpected moment, “gives out on the air” the scheme, the plan of the next masterpiece. So, when a handmade artist says there are no ideas, the muse has not come; she is not capricious and does not stuff up her price. You need to leave her alone for a while and wait.

Myth 13. If a handmade artist has decided to sell her products, it means that money is significant to her; therefore, she will agree to any work and terms!

Money is important to everyone; for some, it’s a matter of life and death; for others. Fortunately, it’s not that critical. If money is needed here and now, the handmade artist will likely spend her time on a job that will bring her some money guaranteed and as quickly as possible. She was getting a job that was within her power and capabilities. When the kids are hungry, you have to reconsider. If a handmade artist sells what she makes with her hands, then most likely she has the time and opportunity to do it, so she can choose – which works to take on and which do not.

Why does a handmade artist once begin to offer her work for money:

  • Because she has seen that such work sells well – she has seen other artisans do it at online and offline fairs;
  • Because she has already sold one or more works once, mostly accidentally, and it has become clear that this is a lovely thing to do;
  • Because she has often heard from others that her work is just as good or even better than others;
  • Because she has accumulated many worthy works that she is not ashamed to offer;
  • Because one day, there comes a moment when you realize that you can get not only pleasure from your hobby but also a financial return, a return on investment that can be turned into a business.

In summary, the keyword is still a pleasure, so often, before taking up an order, a handmade artist weighs all the pros and cons and only then decides. No need to insult handmade artists by assuming that she “makes handicrafts” because she has nothing to live for and is good at nothing else, and therefore deserve neither respect nor polite treatment. This is the wrong approach!

A handmade artist, no matter what kind of creative work she does, is a creative person, yes, to a certain extent subtle, vulnerable, maybe even, as it may seem to some, strange. She is creative because she wants to, can, and is able; she tries and improves. And the notion that “since she decided to sell her products, she must fulfill every whim” is wrong.

The correct way is to understand that handmade artists are not mythical creatures but creative people, and customers are a source of new ideas and inspiration and that if we try to agree, to hear each other, to see the other person’s personality, you can get a lot of pleasure and benefit!

Tell us about your “mythological” observations and myths about Handmade Artists!