craftsmanship, consumerism, virtue, privilege, and quality

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Appropriately-compensated?

Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

Pier 1 doesn't make the same kinds of political contributions that Target does and Target donates primarily to Republicans

Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:27 (2 years ago) Permalink

Appropriately-compensated?

y'know, a living wage

The Uncanny Frankie Valley (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:28 (2 years ago) Permalink

can this conversation be had by americans

puff puff post (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:31 (2 years ago) Permalink

I understand the desire for a living wage or even just better wages but I am wary of second-guessing those labor markets. Would it be better to entirely forego products from some place because they don't pay wages I think fair and thus potentially deprive those workers of any wage at all or reduce the very advantage that they have in the global market?

Mind you, I'm not against socially ameliorative purchasing strategies, I'm just wary that 'fair trade' too might be a form of cynical marketing.

Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:33 (2 years ago) Permalink

pfft the only product that doesn't involve cynical marketing is probably something made by someone you know and given to you for free, ie a homemade gift

The Uncanny Frankie Valley (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

"artisanal" is a word that's come back into fashion recently, but it's been in english usage for centuries: it was a distinction the arts and crafts movement popularised in the 19th century, to register approval of maker-knowledge they feared was vanishing, with the mass move to cities and the growth of factories and the machine-made; they wanted to differentiate skilled handwork from the unskilled work that (many) machines fostered. It probably comes from artigiano, but another possible source is artitianus (via artitus, past participle of artire, meaning to instruct in the arts)

(second derivation being key, since it's about a skill being passed on rather than lost)

mark s, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:36 (2 years ago) Permalink

alright, but handwork has nearly always been associated with luxury in some products -- i'm thinking specifically of textiles, esp. handworked lace and embroidery -- because of the sheer amount of labor required to make them and make them well, and they are very easily distinguished from their machine-made equivalents. but that labor is also acknowledged to be tedious and even (literally) punishing.

a product made with attention to detail implies the wealth of the owner, and always has -- not just wealth, but class distinction and all the heightened discriminations that go along with it. you do not buy it because of its details, you buy them to demonstrate that you are the type of person who appreciates those details.

elmo argonaut, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:40 (2 years ago) Permalink

elmo otm

blind pele (darraghmac), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:41 (2 years ago) Permalink

elmo otm. they're a more significant iteration of the impulse that lead a lot of us to hang band posters in our dorm rooms

turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:42 (2 years ago) Permalink

it seems to me your primary complaint is with marketing language and the associated inability of people to make informed decisions based upon it

It's more an argument with willfully deceptive (and often self-deceptive) self-definition. I can go out tomorrow and hang a shingle over a blanket in Harvard Square and sell tiles I've pornographically Sharpied and call myself a wandering artist in the tradition of Basquiet. I can even believe in my art, and maybe have some real raw talent for it. Maybe I'll get rich from it. Who knows? But the fact is that I'm not a wandering artist in the same way as somebody who's spent twenty years at his trade, or in the same way I'll be in twenty years. It doesn't necessarily mean that I'm not an artist, or that my art is invalid or inauthentic. But if I set my prices at an ego-gratifying $500/tile, when there are tiles that are roughly as pornographic for $12, two blankets away I'm basically acting in an entitled, delusional and borderline-dishonest way. And even moreso if I induce customers to spend an extra $488 under the justification that there's some moral superiority to purchasing from me.

turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:44 (2 years ago) Permalink

[I get that this is an unpopular opinion here, and I'm also sure this is why I'm always gonna be poor, but I don't think it has as much to do with marketing as the impulse behind the desire to market in a certain way.]

turkey in the straw (x2) (remy bean), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:45 (2 years ago) Permalink

Artizan (manual laborer) is attested in French from the mid-16th Century, mark.

Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:48 (2 years ago) Permalink

I still don't buy that completely, I think it's also about (maybe unconsciously) trying to forge connections in an anonymous economic culture, a desire to know something about who's producing your material goods. Even if you haven't met face to face, buying a print from a hipster on Etsy is more of a personal link than getting a poster from Ikea.

Kiarostami bag (milo z), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

And even moreso if I induce customers to spend an extra $488 under the justification that there's some moral superiority to purchasing from me.

Caveat emptor and all that. There's a sucker born every minute.

Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:49 (2 years ago) Permalink

Also, 'roughly as pornographic' is a felicitious turn of phrase

Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:50 (2 years ago) Permalink

that was a xxp about handmade as luxury

Kiarostami bag (milo z), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

M White OTM

The Uncanny Frankie Valley (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:51 (2 years ago) Permalink

thing is, this specific fashion-shift, by a sector of the educated middle-class, towards approval of (and patronage of) the hand-made, for a mix of reasons (actual politics, pseudo-politics, genuine interest and connoisseurship and knowledge, moral swank, blunt wealthy-person showing-off...) has happened several times in the last 150-odd years, ever since morris and ruskin: awareness of it falls in and out of art history -- it's obviously on a big upswing at the moment (others were the 70s, the 20s and the 1880s), but all the exact same issues swirl around

mark s, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

$500 vs $12 and ignoring all the ethical dimensions in favor of 'artisanal' that have been brought up is some wicked strawmanning

Kiarostami bag (milo z), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:52 (2 years ago) Permalink

But if I set my prices at an ego-gratifying $500/tile,

if people are going to pay this, then it is the smart thing to charge this much. ego doesn't have much to do with it, beyond maybe feeling smug about ripping off people. which is the sort of behavior/mindset encouraged by capitalism.

xp

The Uncanny Frankie Valley (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:53 (2 years ago) Permalink

idk i'm just spitballing here but i'm highly skeptical of the ethical dimensions in favor of "artisanal" esp. as some kind of blanket concept

call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

My real point, Remy, is that dude selling $500.00 porno tiles a blanket down from $12.00 ones had better have some massively compelling moral-superiority marketing and even then he's probably going to outright fail or at least end up making less money.

Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:54 (2 years ago) Permalink

Artisanal, to me, is useful when it indicates something tastier or rarer or more aesthetically pleasing somehow. If you're artisinal gougeres are no better than the Taylorized bakery across the Bay and the ingredients are the same, why should I pay twice as much? Otoh, if they rock, here's my money.

Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

you're? Sheesh...

Do you know what the secret of comity is? (Michael White), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:56 (2 years ago) Permalink

Whenever I see something offered through Groupon, I think the company's story is: We priced it wrong the first time.

I'm noticing that a lot of businesses that aren't putting their good on sale are instead investing in telling the story behind why their products/services are priced the way they are.

Last Spring, Hermes had a bunch of their craftpeople set up at pop-up shops in a few different cities, simply doing their job at a workstation set up for public viewing -- so the tie-maker made ties, the scarf-maker dyed scarves, etc.

Today, for something kind of work-related, I ended up at a store that sells $40,000 mattresses. And you bet that those mattresses have a story about all of the details and pedigree that justify the value of the thing.

your way better (Eazy), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:58 (2 years ago) Permalink

I'm sure it came via French, Michael, which you know ten million times better than me anyway -- most of the Latin element in English did. But (acc. the concise oxford, which is all I have to hand, and it doesn't do dates, or give the specific French) the deep root is as I wrote, the Italian from the late Latin, which had the sense of a skill taught or passed on...

mark s, Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

http://www.marissamarchant.com/

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 3 November 2011 22:59 (2 years ago) Permalink

Marchant comes from ye olde Norman for "walking artisanal merchant"

citation needed (Steve Shasta), Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:01 (2 years ago) Permalink

Last Spring, Hermes had a bunch of their craftpeople set up at pop-up shops in a few different cities, simply doing their job at a workstation set up for public viewing -- so the tie-maker made ties, the scarf-maker dyed scarves, etc.

lol a lot of the raw materials for this stuff still comes from china

dayo, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:04 (2 years ago) Permalink

milo, i don't disagree that other factors and motivations come into play -- i think, too, that there has been some slippage when it comes to what 'handcrafting' means in terms of marketing -- it can mean 'made with exacting attention to detail by an experienced, dedicated laborer' or it can mean 'a unique labor of love, charming imperfections & idiosyncrasies included' depending on what's being sold & by whom

elmo argonaut, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:05 (2 years ago) Permalink

Related to that, I saw an ad somewhere (some special watch issue of something like the Financial Times) from a watch-related industry group that compared and contrasted buying an authentic watch made by a craftsman versus buying a fake watch made in a sweatshop.

your way better (Eazy), Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:07 (2 years ago) Permalink

I guess I'm only interested in artisanal handmade stuff insofar as those qualities are usually correlated with 'quality' and 'longlasting' - pretty sure my uniqlo selvedge was made by machine but who cares they've been pretty durable. and my red wings are nice but if you told me a machine made them, well eh, they're still well made.

dayo, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

one take on our annoying future

http://thinkprogress.org/yglesias/2011/03/07/200135/the-yoga-instructor-economy/

― goole, Thursday, November 3, 2011 6:07 PM Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

Or the annoying present of New York City!

pass the duchy pon the left hand side (musical duke) (Hurting 2), Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:08 (2 years ago) Permalink

hand-sewn ties vs. machine-sewn ties is a great example of a false distinction in 'quality' imho

elmo argonaut, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

elmo I asked you a question on your tie thread. btw love the tie/shirt combo you posted today

dayo, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:09 (2 years ago) Permalink

so is there an... economic(? or political?) objection to "the new craftsmanship"? so far it seems like the big objections are largely cultural in nature--i.e. abt the motives of the new craftsmen-and-women and the ppl who consume products of the new craft

max, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

It was pretty neat to watch in person.

your way better (Eazy), Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

"a fake watch made in a sweatshop" <-- hands don't move separately?

mark s, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:10 (2 years ago) Permalink

i think the main objection in terms of the politics of economics is that it's never going to be anything but a boutique market, so it's a red herring in respect of (for example) tackling unemployment on a significant scale

mark s, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:14 (2 years ago) Permalink

okay but there's not a economic-political objection to its existences, just to its reach

max, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:15 (2 years ago) Permalink

insofar as most of us probably think ppl should be able to produce, sell, and buy what they want then no

call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:18 (2 years ago) Permalink

lol a lot of the raw materials for this stuff still comes from china

silk from the Orient? curse this modern age

lukas, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:20 (2 years ago) Permalink

haha. I know somebody who used to work at LV, she said pretty much all of the materials - the leather, gold zippers and clasps, chains, etc. are made in china and shipped to italy/france to be assembled.

dayo, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

this is gonna turn into another quiddities of the ruling class-stylee thread, isn't it?!?

Gay Andy Taffel (Eisbaer), Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:21 (2 years ago) Permalink

insofar as most of us probably think ppl should be able to produce, sell, and buy what they want then no

― call all destroyer, Thursday, November 3, 2011 7:18 PM (5 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

haha. u sure that "most of us" do?

max, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:24 (2 years ago) Permalink

Dayo, that's probably part of why Hermes (competing against LV) was bringing in their folks to do this demonstration. They all work in the same place:

your way better (Eazy), Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:26 (2 years ago) Permalink

haha. u sure that "most of us" do?

― max, Thursday, November 3, 2011 7:24 PM (5 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

that seems to be an assumption most ppl itt are operating under!

call all destroyer, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:30 (2 years ago) Permalink

the cultural objection to this stuff is, i think, some kind of instinctual reaction to its ancientness. if working this way (and buying this way) is a reaction to capitalism or industrialization, it "feels" less like a way forward than a reach back even further to aristocratic patronage of craftspeople.

so, rather than stamping out parts for something that everyone buys (to the great profit of a few), you're handmaking some object that the greatly-profited few are buying directly.

this all sounds pretty marxy i guess.

goole, Thursday, 3 November 2011 23:31 (2 years ago) Permalink


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