there's a real arrogance to the new breed of millenial craftsman, i.e. the kids who went to college in the '90s and '00s and then realized they liked doing manual work that was, by their standards, "below" them. To justify their own egos and intellectual pretentions they take to correspondingly hiking the prices/ramping up the cultural "worth" /finessing the language in their copy to include shit like "artisan-made" and "uniquely sourced and crafted" so that they feel their middle-class prejudices being satiated while they're doing work that would otherwise be, you know, plain old labor.
(and I don't buy for a second that the high cost of labor is due to some benevolent workers' solidarity with their underpaid brethren)
it goes beyond 'justifying their own egos and intellectual pretentions' - if you can sell shit for more money by marketing it differently, *that is a good idea*. this happens in basically every market for everything!
― iatee, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:06 (3 years ago) Permalink
― Mr. Que, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:07 (3 years ago) Permalink
how about when the product is bank accounts, iatee?
― turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:08 (3 years ago) Permalink
this is really easy to run into if you buy liquor these days--microdistilleries are popping up all over the place and using words like "local" "artisinal" and "craft" and they pretty much ignore some basic facts of the beverage alcohol industry (liquor branch in particular), such as 1) distilling is really hard; 2) once you can do it it's really easy to do large-scale; 3) market competition and consumer choice have resulted in an environment where 95% of midshelf and higher products are quite high-quality.
the response of microdistillers is to give something "unique" (i.e. a gin that can't be used in martinis) or to essentially just put something out there and provide no reason for drinking it beyond who/how/where it was produced (i.e. the glut of awful, pointless "white whiskies" that you can get now).
― call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:11 (3 years ago) Permalink
i'm writing off the cuff here, but in my experience a lot of the current iteration of 'craftsmanship culture' i.e. 'dudes who have a hobby making shit' gets elevated all out of proportion into 'artistry' that shortchanges long-time practitioners and career creators of that same ("mass-produced") items. maybe i'm thinking narrowly (though not – sorry – appealing to prejudice or bald-faced self-serving) but in the case of my uncle the snobby pro-'artisanal' attitude cost a good and devoted laborer his job.
― turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, November 3, 2011 2:04 PM (2 minutes ago) Bookmark
yeah, i can see how the appeal to "artistry" is arrogant, especially when there are so many other people who make and sell the same kind of thing in a factory and do a good job and don't loudly claim to be "artists" and probably aren't white. agreed that mass-produced <> "lovingly crafted" etc. xp
― ah, how quaint (Matt P), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:16 (3 years ago) Permalink
― iatee, Thursday, November 3, 2011 2:06 PM (10 minutes ago) Bookmark
yeah, i mean, that's where things get complicated imo
― ah, how quaint (Matt P), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:17 (3 years ago) Permalink
the Global website has just this one photo of dudes grinding knives
― whoop, up the butt it goes (silby), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:19 (3 years ago) Permalink
if he had a beard maybe he would be ok to work out of brooklyn instead of japan
― call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:20 (3 years ago) Permalink
i guess i think there should be a distinction made b/w stuff that "appeals to artistry" in a way that is kinda slimy and stuff that is actually "artisan" by definition. and if ppl wanna pay $600 or for an actual artisan knife i guess that's their prerogative?
― J0rdan S., Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:20 (3 years ago) Permalink
competition in the market for personal bank accounts is a great idea and the fact that large banks don't seem to want to offer a competitive price (free) anymore is why people are switching to alternatives. xp
overall if someone is consuming less cause they're spending more money on fewer things, I'm totally cool w/ artisan stuff. if it's just creating more needless consumption opportunities otoh, there's a good argument against it.
regardless of 'higher quality' (true sometimes, bullshit sometimes) this trend has to be looked as primarily as marketing. you know what else has marketing behind it? all the cheap crap in the world.
anyway I find this interesting but am getting on a train. surely will be 500 posts while I'm gone.
― iatee, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:21 (3 years ago) Permalink
xp what is artisan by definition?
― call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:21 (3 years ago) Permalink
Many of the best chefs in the world use knives costing 1/2 - 1/3 as much as those in the OP, made by folks whose family/ancestors have been in the "artisinal" "knife"-making business for centuries.
Global is not very "artisinal" fwiw, it's a fairly large manufacturer.
― citation needed (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:22 (3 years ago) Permalink
thanks for this thread, this is a subject i've been mulling over a lot lately. *mulls*
― elmo argonaut, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:23 (3 years ago) Permalink
also, making one particular thing is like 95% tedious and brutal anyway, it's not like someone making knives in their warehouse is going to know something ^those guys don't. factories improve quality control for products like that big-time. xposts
― ah, how quaint (Matt P), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:26 (3 years ago) Permalink
(it's only on ilx that i remember what a socialist i am, at heart)
my Uncle J spends 30 years making a niche product so successfully that it becomes ubiquitous in his corner of the [classical music] industry. Uncle J charges a very reasonable fee to make a custom, one-of-a-kind [widget], and takes on an apprentice who studies with him for six months. apprentice comes to my Uncle, and says he wants to become a partner –– AFTER SIX MONTHS –– because he's learned everything Uncle J. has to show him about making very complicated [widgets]. Uncle J. says no, not yet, and apprentice informs J. he'll be quitting if he can't make more $$$; what he feels is fair compensation. Uncle J. asks what fair compensation is, and the kid lists a price that is easily three times what Uncle J., himself, makes. Uncle J. is already paying the new kid a pretty top-shelf salary (middle five figures) roughly equal to 4/5 of J.'s own salary, in an industry that is flagging in this recession. Uncle J's apprentice quits and a few weeks later opens up a business at the other end of town where he charges many many times more than Uncle J. for the [vastly inferior, vastly less-experienced version of the highly technical widget –– now made with recycled! metal!]. Uncle J. loses all of his clients, who (are carefully seduced by the former apprentice to) feel that his product is inferior and less "ethical", because Uncle J.'s his experience and craftsmanship and desire to be reasonable are trumped by the geewhiz factor of a kid who slightly alters a half-stolen design and stamps ARTISANAL and HANDCRAFTED over a product that has always - obviously - been artisanal and handcrafted. Reducing my (inchoate) argument to a nut, I find it reedikerus that 'artisianal' and 'craftsmanship' are currently applicable to anything that, say, a 23-year-old has done for less than a few years.
― turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:26 (3 years ago) Permalink
I don't think I thought that Global was particularly artisanal, just their knives are more expensive than and probably better than random stamped piece of crap knives from Target. So from a purely use-value perspective ("I want an objectively good knife and will pay more for quality because this matters to me") they are competitors. xps
― whoop, up the butt it goes (silby), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:27 (3 years ago) Permalink
obv. i know this is not a generalizable anecdote, but it's illustrative of the attitude that bothers me
― turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:28 (3 years ago) Permalink
yeah that kid sounds like a massive tool
― whoop, up the butt it goes (silby), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:29 (3 years ago) Permalink
The customer is always right, even when the customer is a flagrant idiot.
― Aimless, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:30 (3 years ago) Permalink
ha i finally looked at the links in the original post and pretty much had the same reaction tbh xxp
― ah, how quaint (Matt P), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:31 (3 years ago) Permalink
that story has nothing to do with the word artisanal and everything to do with the apprentice being a dick
also why would the customers pay more for something? they are dicks too
― Mr. Que, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:32 (3 years ago) Permalink
In the future everything will be artisinally made by laid-off hipsters and sold out of a truck.
― citation needed (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:35 (3 years ago) Permalink
moral of the story: kid is better at marketing than your uncle.
― The Uncanny Frankie Valley (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:35 (3 years ago) Permalink
also the way you tell it everybody in the story is an asshole, except your uncle
― The Uncanny Frankie Valley (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:36 (3 years ago) Permalink
In the future China will outsource to 8-year-old children of American hipsters
― ah, how quaint (Matt P), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:37 (3 years ago) Permalink
ok but remy, the force of your argument here is basically not new at all, it's a jeremiad against dishonesty and greed and deliberate poor quality masquerading as something it isn't, not craftsmanship or even young people who want to be genuine artisans (for whatever reason, including silly reasons) (young people often take up careers for silly or pretentious reasons; some of them turn that round)
in what practical sense is the interloper's work poorer quality* -- when and how will the difference manifest in a way his gulled clients will notice?
*i realise you may not want to answer this question directly, to keep uncle J reasonably anonymised, but what i'm getting at is that a significant part of artisanal (true sense) added value is in quality that sustains itself over time (objects that keep their qualities for years; craftsmanship that you can return to year in year out and discover maintenance of quality)
multiple x-post bcz i fashion my posts in the tradition of my ancestors
― mark s, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:37 (3 years ago) Permalink
do you have to set wooden type and letterpress your posts onto fine cotton paper, or do you whistle the letters into your modem directly?
― whoop, up the butt it goes (silby), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:38 (3 years ago) Permalink
i think there is a risk of needless over-generalization here, if we are to assume that 'handcrafted' and 'artisinal' and 'responsibly sourced materials' are completely hollow marketing terms. i mean, stop me if i become stupidly obvious here, but customers are not only buying a product but buying into a set of values expressed by the means of its manufacture, if not the quality of the product itself, but I don't necessarily think you can generalize that those values are empty or false or unworthy.
― elmo argonaut, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:41 (3 years ago) Permalink
what if people en masse can no longer be relied upon to objectively judge quality and craftsmanship? i.e. the yelper effect
― ah, how quaint (Matt P), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:44 (3 years ago) Permalink
lol no longer?! when have they ever
― The Uncanny Frankie Valley (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:50 (3 years ago) Permalink
― turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:51 (3 years ago) Permalink
Can't wait till I can post some recycled jokes itt via an artisinal computer running on sustainably sourced electricity
― Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:55 (3 years ago) Permalink
can we talk about the $116 scissors? http://www.bestmadeco.com/collections/frontpage/products/shears
― call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:56 (3 years ago) Permalink
My sister has insanely expensive scissors (she cuts hair)
― Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:57 (3 years ago) Permalink
i think it gets complicated when supposedly extrinsic use value turns into fluffier or harder-to-define symbolic value. i mean, there is "this is going to last longer and work better, and i can prove it with the numbers", but what exactly the numbers prove can get a little lost on the way somehow. and now you do get the sense that at the ass-end of this stuff, both makers and purchasers are trying to inscribe some moral dimension into what never really had a moral dimension in the first place and what are really just the same market principles by appealing to 100 years ago or whatever.
i think a big part of the problem comes down to locating good/bad in materials/products themselves, when it's the organization/structure responsible for the material/product that needs to be held accountable. it's like, the world's too big and complicated, but that looks handmade i think i'll buy it. fuck i feel better already!
― ah, how quaint (Matt P), Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:57 (3 years ago) Permalink
― Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, November 3, 2011 5:57 PM (55 seconds ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink
well that makes sense! these are just, like, scissors for cutting paper or whatever you use scissor for
― call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 21:59 (3 years ago) Permalink
These days? Stabbing myself in the head, mostly
― Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:00 (3 years ago) Permalink
― call all destroyer, Thursday, November 3, 2011 2:56 PM (3 minutes ago)
If you are "crafty", you can find these online with shipping from Japan for ~$60. Still $60 scissors, lol.
― citation needed (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:01 (3 years ago) Permalink
I will start a new service that will artisanally search the internet for you by hand and find you the best prices.
― citation needed (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:02 (3 years ago) Permalink
― ah, how quaint (Matt P), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:02 (3 years ago) Permalink
i went into michaels last week to buy scissors and was p stunned by how many pairs of exorbitantly priced scissors they were selling
― J0rdan S., Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:03 (3 years ago) Permalink
created in my bedroom
― ah, how quaint (Matt P), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:03 (3 years ago) Permalink
my fav part is the description:
We have gone through at least a dozen mediocre pairs of scissors at Best Made: they lose their edge, are cumbersome to handle, or have flimsy plastic handles that wouldn't pass muster at nursery school.
i would humbly suggest the problem is not with the scissors!
― call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:04 (3 years ago) Permalink
one take on our annoying future
― goole, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:07 (3 years ago) Permalink
― Stevie T, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:09 (3 years ago) Permalink
My uncle makes a musical instrument traditionally manufactured in a fairly high number of pieces kluged together to the rough specifications of the musician. Kind of ... plug and play, mix and match. Uncle J. figured out a (very ingenious) way to manufacture the instrument bespoke, in (essentially) one large piece without the valves, fittings, and joints that are prone to failure in the ordinary process. Uncle J.'s pieces take a lot longer to make, are highly, highly customized to the playing style and needs of each musician, and require an extreme level of skill, experience and precision to manufacture successfully. The instruments are pricey once-in-a-lifetime purchases for professional players of the instrument, and each one comes with a 'forever' guarantee and unquestioning repair work from J. and his assistants. J. worked for 15 years making instruments the traditional way for [the equivalent of Suzuki] before going into business and getting a name for himself. The former apprentice's instruments appear to be crafted in the same style as my Uncle's instruments, but they're just a modified (for aesthetic effect) version of the traditional process; prone to wear, fatigue and failure. While my uncle's marketing acumen is undoubtedly less polished than his apprentice, I don't think the marketing is entirely at fault. There's a burden to be carried by the consumer as well as the producer, and it concerns the incoherent valuing of anything with artistic credibility over experience and workmanship.
For the record, I never said my argument was new. It's old-fashioned, kind of in the tradition of "slow food," and it does owe a debt to the old ways are the good ways camp. But I genuinely believe that when we're bragging about the moral superiority of – say – an artisan-made ottoman crafted from locally sourced Alpaca fibers ($500) vs. a Walmart generic footrest in synthetic green ($30), what we're doing is, in an implicit part, stating that we value the work-hours of acculturated Western white people with good educations who can Talk Our Talk more than we value the work-hours of an anonymous poor Malaysian fella stapling gunny-sacks to a pile of coils. I'm not suggesting that we shouldn't pay for quality, or fairly compensate skilled workers –– just that there's a class-sorting mechanism often apparent in the (sometimes) slimy categorizing of between craftsman/artisianal/handmade product.
― turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:10 (3 years ago) Permalink
Despite his often biting comments in the book, Weingarten is quick to point out that he’s not so different from that which he mocks. “This isn’t some jock-bully out to take down the hipsters,” he explains. “This is coming from someone who lives in Brooklyn, plays in noise bands, goes to Film Forum and Smorgasburg, and buys artisanal ketchup from Sir Kensington.”
― buzza, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:10 (3 years ago) Permalink
i need a locally-sourced, sustainable and renewable editor
― turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:12 (3 years ago) Permalink
this is the second time i've seen reference to whiney's artisanal ketchup buying; brb need to commit suicide
― call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:14 (3 years ago) Permalink
More like wbrb, eh?
― Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:16 (3 years ago) Permalink
― yeovil knievel (NickB), Monday, 30 March 2015 12:48 (6 months ago) Permalink
― koogs, Wednesday, 1 April 2015 12:06 (6 months ago) Permalink
The 21st century riding crop
― jmm, Wednesday, 1 April 2015 12:51 (6 months ago) Permalink
Gee, I hope that is an April fool.
― in an awkward manor (doo dah), Wednesday, 1 April 2015 12:58 (6 months ago) Permalink
Might as well throw this in here, too:
― Doktor Van Peebles (kingfish), Thursday, 23 April 2015 14:55 (5 months ago) Permalink
and this! http://carles.buzz/artisan-meaning-contemporary-conformist/
― marcos, Tuesday, 5 May 2015 14:55 (5 months ago) Permalink
A Contemporary Conformist is a ‘jack of all trades’ when it comes to art/design, therefor they view everything they create as artisanal. If they made dinner and microplaned some parmesan on top of it, it was an artisanal event. If they put something in the over, it was artisanal. Everything that Contemporary Conformists make at home is artisanal, even if they just put something away in a baggie.
Contemporary Conformists see everything they do as artisanal, and want everything they consume/buy/ingest/style their homes with/talk about with every one to seem ‘artisanal.’
― marcos, Tuesday, 5 May 2015 14:57 (5 months ago) Permalink
A Contemporary Conformist wants to walk over from their factory-converted lots/newly renovated home-apartment in a historical section of town to get artisanal coffee. They want an artisanal egg from an artisanal farm with a side of artisanal avocado toast served on artisanal Ezekiel bread for breakfast. They want an artisanal small plate lunch from an artisanal food truck while taking a break from their Contemporary Conformist job that allows them/office-pressure-forces them to wear artisanal Business_Contemporary-Conformist-Casual to work.
― marcos, Tuesday, 5 May 2015 14:58 (5 months ago) Permalink
We are just trying to validate our 3rd-5th tier American cities.
― jennifer islam (silby), Tuesday, 5 May 2015 16:10 (5 months ago) Permalink
i think there's a kernel of insight buried in there but i think it's more interesting to think of 'contemporary conformist' as an design aesthetic or a mode of production & consumption than a type of person, since that's where it comes across as a bit strawmannish for me.
― gwyneth anger (patron sailor), Tuesday, 5 May 2015 16:53 (5 months ago) Permalink
patron sailor might I invite you to at some point update this thread on what you've been learning on your fiber journey? (A yarn store employee once told me "good luck on your fiber journey" and that has stuck with me)
― jennifer islam (silby), Tuesday, 5 May 2015 16:57 (5 months ago) Permalink
my fiber journey is currently involves an exploration of an iron age weaving technique, namely tablet weaving (also known as card weaving). from what i understand, most people who tablet weave these days are into creative anachronism and/or reenacting viking battles. i don't do those things but the weaving is fun.
― gwyneth anger (patron sailor), Tuesday, 5 May 2015 17:01 (5 months ago) Permalink
tablet weaving is mainly used for making patterned bands and braids, which can be used as straps, belts, or garment trim. it's an interesting technique to learn because it doesn't require a loom at all (though it can be done on many types of conventional looms). all you need is a set of cards (square, with a hole in each corner) and yarn (threaded through the holes); as you weave, you turn the cards forward or backwards, changing the position of the warp yarns. depending on how the cards are threaded and the sequence of card turns, you can make make extremely elaborate patterns. it's pretty neat.
― gwyneth anger (patron sailor), Tuesday, 5 May 2015 17:11 (5 months ago) Permalink
anyway, here's the latest thing i did. about 2 yards in an advancing wave pattern
― gwyneth anger (patron sailor), Tuesday, 5 May 2015 17:55 (5 months ago) Permalink
I probably have more to say about my handicrafts and how i think of them in relation to the titular focus of this thread, if anyone cares -- but just for right now I'm thinking about how (typically white) people will describe or market certain handmade goods with fucked up quasi-racist terms. pinterest & etsy are truly minefields of suspect language.
― gwyneth anger (patron sailor), Friday, 29 May 2015 13:35 (4 months ago) Permalink
"ethnic" "tribal" "gypsy" "primitive"
― gwyneth anger (patron sailor), Friday, 29 May 2015 13:37 (4 months ago) Permalink
okay, maybe those are just straight-out unqualified racist.
whenever someone describes something as "tribal" or "ethnic" it's like -- what tribe? which ethnicity? rhetorical questions, of course, since they all seem to indicate an undifferentiated kind of "exotic" non-whiteness.
― gwyneth anger (patron sailor), Friday, 29 May 2015 13:46 (4 months ago) Permalink
a nice little wage
― imago, Monday, 7 September 2015 15:05 (1 month ago) Permalink
I guess this is as good a thread as any for this, but one category I find really head-scratchy is artisanal junk food. E.g. I just tried Doughnut Plant for the first time (and I've had Dough a few times), and honestly, it's really delicious, but it came to almost $9 for an iced coffee and a big donut square. They seem to be doing well - they've expanded, but what is the market for eating stuff like that on a regular basis? It's expensive enough to only be for the affluent, but unhealthy enough to not seem like something most affluent urbanites would eat often.
― on entre O.K. on sort K.O. (man alive), Friday, 11 September 2015 19:45 (1 month ago) Permalink
otm, and really, hasn't this been par for the course since, like, Marco Polo? How much worse was understanding of Chinese culture to a 13th century European than to a 21st century American? 10%? less?
― Dominique, Friday, 11 September 2015 19:57 (1 month ago) Permalink