Craftsman – A worker skilled in a particular craft; an activity involving skill in making things by hand.
How many people are still true craftsmen? Being the very best at what you do or making treasures with your hands, earning your money with your own hands. If you were a painter, cobbler, bag maker, chandler etc., in the past, it didn’t matter what you did. You were the very best and you were the one the people came for. Nowadays we go into one shop and buy everything we need. We don’t know anymore where the products come from or how they are made. True craftsmen seem to extinguish one by one.
The craftsman of Luxury and Style
The bags in the ‘quick fashion’ from Primark, H&M or Mango can be bought for a few euros and are not always made of real leather or genuine leather (a lesser quality of leather as you can read here). When we look at the prêt a porter we will see a little higher price tag but receive, for example, bags from real leather made with more care. One step up will be the haute couture that is designed, constructed by hand and with fabrics of high, expensive quality. We could say the makers of haute couture are the craftsmen of luxury and style. Though before the high-end dresses could be made we will need those special fabrics. Who does embroider or weave them?
Quality or Quantity
The definition of a craftsman is as you can read very broad. We could also ask ourselves: is there in this digital era still need for craftsmen or can we make it also with machines we programme? Will we be able to 3d- print everything from jeans to pottery to cars in the end? Though will we be able to make products as strong and as professional as craftsmen do? Will the quality still be valued more over quantity?
The forgotten Skills
Making products with great quality is something that can be linked to the skill of the person. The more years of practice one gets, the more skilled the person will be. This will be visible in every product eventually. In the old days you could go in apprentice with a Master, later they developed schools for these practices but nowadays more and more schools have to close because of the decrease of applications. If we don’t watch out the real Masters will age and will not be able to teach anyone anymore. Because you can’t just learn some skills by reading a book. No, someone will have to rap you on the knuckles and teach you everything they know.
Wouldn’t it be great to gather a group of young, eager to learn students and take them to Italy to learn leathercraft or take them to Vietnam and teach them how baskets are woven originally or teach them any other skill which might be lost in a few years?I think we have look for ways to enthuse people to learn more than by sitting at a computer screen and let the machine do the work. Because when we will make a new machine and don’t know the underlying technique what will it make in the end?
A little old but also new
Who will be the craftsmen of the future? Will those few true craftsmen be enough to teach more people or at least teach the underlying principles? Or will we create a new kind of craftsman in this digital era? I personally think we need both. We will need the old crafts to be passed on to newer generations. To those, who will continue to practice them with great enthusiasm. But we will also need a fresh look into the future to develop even more. We need to keep the conversation going with each other and work together to make a, even more, brighter future of the craftsman.
Yeh, you made it till the end of this long post but I hope I have given you something to think about. Are you a true craftsman do you think? Do you think we still need those or will we be able to make everything digital? I love to hear your thoughts about this and continue this conversation.