Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO

Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
Crafting Self:
Promoting the making
self in the creative
Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
Report Authors                                                                 Thank-you to those makers in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Aus-
Professor Susan Luckman                                                        tralia who allowed us to get a visual glimpse into their studios and making
Dr Jane Andrew                                                                 lives: South Australia — Doris Chang (Little Sister Co), Julie Frahm, Jordan
Tracy Crisp                                                                    Gower, Bella Head, Kate Inglis, Jax Isaacson (Jax & Co), Pip Kruger, Tiff
                                                                               Manuel, Craig Northam (BUCK!T), Karen Warren (Tootsie), Emma Young;
Other Contributors and Acknowledgements                                        Tasmania — Emma Bugg, Phillipa Julien (Till Designs), Helen Mansbridge
We cannot thank Belinda Powles enough for her invaluable input                 (Pili Pala), Scott Van Tuill; Western Australia — Gill Cordiner, Adam Coffey
and assistance with the research project. Her steady hand across most          (Future Shelter), Stephanie Hammill, Annemieke Mulders. Thank-you also
of the project’s timeframe was essential to its successful completion and      to Michelle Young and Samantha Moody from Tjanpi Desert Weavers.
much of the enthusiastic and warm buy-in from the Australian craft and
designer-maker community. The project would also have clearly not been         Report Design
possible without that strong support from the craft and design sector.         Dr Melinda Gaughwin
There have been many people who have helped us on the way and to you
                                                                               This research was supported by the Australian Research Council’s
a huge thank-you, and especially to the many makers, administrators and
                                                                               Discovery Project funding scheme (project number DP150100485,
enablers who have generously shared their stories with us — a full list of
                                                                               2015-2018). The views expressed herein are those of the authors and
everyone is included at the end of this document. Across the project,
                                                                               are not necessarily those of the Australian Research Council.
we are incredibly thankful for the administrative and financial support
offered by Julie White and Emmeline Koh. The work of Tracy Crisp,
Tim Coventry and Jess Pacella was essential to bringing this Final
Report into being.

Within this report are a selection of responses and quotes taken from the
179 interviews conducted across 2015-2018. A number of photographs
                                                                               ISBN-13: 978-0-6484622-0-0 Hard Copy
and breakout quotes featuring creative practitioners and their business
                                                                               ISBN-13: 978-0-6484622-1-7 Electronic Version
or organisations were chosen to illustrate the report, to both highlight the
diversity within the Australian designer-maker sector and illustrate key       Published by the School of Creative Industries,
points from the research. The authors thank those who granted permis-          University of South Australia, Adelaide
sion for their photographs, images, words or artwork to be reproduced
within this report, and state that those featured do not necessarily share     © 2018 Copyright is held by the authors
the views expressed within the report.                                         Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
                                                                               (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
All photography by Rosina Possingham Photography unless credited

2                                                                                                                                                             3
Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
Table of contents

1        Project Overview. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

2        Understanding Contemporary Australian Craft and Design . . . . . . . .17

3        Why People Make. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

4        Where People Are Selling in the Australian Craft and
         Designer-Maker Marketplace. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 29

5        Social Media and its Impact Upon Contemporary
         Craftspeople and Designer-Makers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41

6        Acquiring Craft and Design Knowledge and Skills. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 51

7        Making as a Living. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59

8        Running a Craft or Designer-Maker Business:
         Creative Enterprises and Business Skills. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 67

9        Outsourcing, Scaling-Up and the Impact of New Technologies. .  .  .  .  . 79

10 Work/Life Balance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

11 Race, Ethnicity and the Contemporary Craft and Designer-
   Maker Sector in Australia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

12 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Craft and Designer-Making. .  .  . 95

13 Environmental Considerations and Contemporary Australian
   Small-Scale Production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99

14 General Advice Arising From the Research: What things can
   makers creating small businesses actively do to keep their heads
   above water?. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 104

15 References. .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  . 109

16 Appendix 1 — Crafting Self Research Participants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111

17 Appendix 2 — 'Key Moments in Craft in Australia' timeline . . . . 118

Image: Textile design by Phillipa Julien (Till Designs)                                                                                                    5
Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
Phillipa Julien (Till Designs)

“You’ve just
got to trust
in yourself, …
keep your
direction and
go for it.”

Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
1. Project Overview
                                                   The project focused on the contemporary
                                                   craft and designer-maker micro-economy,
                                                   which is at present experiencing unprece-
    Aims and Methods                               dented growth as part of the larger upsurge
                                                   of interest in making as a cultural and eco-
    Promoting the Making Self in the Creative
                                                   nomic practice. This research project has
    Micro-economy (‘Crafting Self’) was funded
                                                   generated new insights into the changing
    through the Australian Government’s
                                                   nature of contemporary creative work, and
    Australian Research Council’s Discovery
                                                   both the tacit and explicit knowledge that
    Project funding scheme (project number
                                                   individuals require to succeed as makers.
                                                   In this project we recognise that not all
    The primary aim of the project was to
                                                   handmade micro-entrepreneurs are at the
    determine how online distribution is
                                                   same stage of their career or have the same
    changing the environment for operating
                                                   origin story. Therefore this qualitative,
    a creative micro-enterprise, and with it,
                                                   mixed-methods national research project
    the larger relationship between public and
                                                   consists of three parallel data collection ac-
    private spheres. A key research question
                                                   tivities: semi-structured interviews with es-
    was: what are the ‘self-making’ skills
                                                   tablished makers; a three-year longitudinal
    required to succeed in this competitive
                                                   annual interview monitoring of arts, design
    environment? Specifically, the research
                                                   and craft graduates as they seek to establish
    sought to:
                                                   their making careers; and a historical over-
    • Identify the attitudes, knowledge and        view of the support mechanisms available
       skills required to develop and run a        to Australian handmade producers.
       sustainable creative micro-enterprise,
       including the acquisition of making/        Across the four years of the project we
       production skills, business skills and      interviewed: 20 peak body and industry
       acumen, personal capacities and deci-       organisations, 81 Established Makers,
       sion-making around self-marketing;          and followed the progress of an initial 32
    • Analyse the spatial and temporal ne-         Emerging Makers as they sought to es-
       gotiations necessary to run an online       tablish their careers (Year 1 - ‘1-Up’ = 32
       creative micro-enterprise, including the    interviews; Year 2 - ‘2-Up’ = 27 follow-up
       ways in which divisions of labour are       interviews; Year 3 - ‘3-Up’ = 19 follow-up
       gendered; and                               interviews, for a total of 71 interviews).
    • Examine how the contemporary
                                                   The study was explicitly national, and
       creative economy contributes to growing
                                                   we spoke to makers and peak organisations
       ethics-based micro-economic consumer
                                                   in every state and territory. Underpinning
       and producer relationships that privileg-
                                                   the selection criteria was the need to gather
       es small-scale production, environmen-
                                                   as large a diversity of experience as possi-
       tally-sustainable making practices and
                                                   ble, and thus to seek to capture a breadth
       the idea of buying direct from the maker.
                                                   of people across: geography (urban, subur-
                                                   ban, regional, rural, remote); practice and
                                                   business model; age; race and ethnicity;
                                                   and gender. commendation by previous
8                                                  interviewees.                                  9
    Image: Scott Van Tuil's workshop
Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
We make no claims that the sample was           JamFactory, Sturt, Australian Tapestry
completely representative, but in its scale     Workshop and Tjanpi Weavers. We also
and scope, it does capture a broad variety of   sought to include representative examples
stories and knowledge.                          of some of the newer retail designer-maker
                                                and craft market operators.                           Age Range of Established Maker
We identified potential Emerging Make                                                                 Research Participants
participants through 2014 graduate              See the Project Webpage: http://craftingself.
                                                net/ or Appendix 1 at the end of this document        25-29                           1
exhibition catalogues from art, design and      for a full list of research participants who agreed   30-34                           6
craft higher education programs around          to have their involvement publicly identified
                                                                                                      35-39                           9
the country; these were either sourced from
                                                Recommendations: As an ARC Discov-                    40-44                          14
publicly accessible sections of universi-
                                                ery Research Project the primary focus of             50-54                           7
ty websites or provided by the university
                                                Crafting Self was on original ‘blue sky’/             55-60                           8
involved. These catalogues were requested
                                                basic research, not to be government-fac-             60-64                           4
from higher education institutions follow-
                                                ing. However, arising out of the research,            65-70                           2
ing disclosure of the intent of their use.
                                                a number of policy recommendations did                Unassigned                     16
Where graduates provided contact details
as part of an exhibition catalogue, these       clearly emerge through the study, namely:
details were used in our study. Where grad-
                                                •   Business skills development:                      Age Range of Emerging Maker
uates did not provide this information, con-
                                                    Consider extending the New Enterprise             Research Participants (as of last
tact details were obtained through a public
                                                    Incentive Scheme (NEIS) to people not             interview with them)
internet search using
                                                    on Newstart but also not currently em-            20-24                          19
While we initially mistakenly presumed
                                                    ployed or receiving an income who are             25-29                          10
that most of the recent graduates would be
                                                    committed to developing a sustainable             30-34                          13
young, what was immediately striking was
                                                    business in this sector. Access should            35-39                          11
how many craft returners there were; that
                                                    apply regardless of de facto or marital           40-44                          14
is people returning to their love of making
                                                    status (see p. 75 for further discussion);        45-49                           3
in mid-life having had other jobs and/or
                                                                                                      50-54                           0
brought up children.                            •   Reinstate grant schemes to support
                                                                                                      55-59                           0
                                                    collaborations between industry and
Established Makers (generally those with                                                              65-70                           2
                                                    creative micro-enterprises;
over five years or more of making and sel -                                                           60-64                           3
ing) were cold-called having been identified    •   Provide funding to maintain higher
on peak organisation websites or through            education studio practice:
dialogue with them, Etsy and other online           Need to re-establish funding levels that
retail outlets, as stall holders in design          enable high quality studio practice and
craft markets, or through recommendation            hands-on learning if the making skills
by previous interviewees.                           necessary to grow the design craft sec-
                                                    tor, as well as enable the contribution
With the peak body and industry organi-
                                                    of craftspeople and designers to innova-
sations we approached all the ACDC (Aus-
                                                    tion in making in Australia, are to exist
tralian Craft and Design Centres) members
                                                    into the future.
across Australia, as well as other iconic
craft and design organisations such as the

                                                    Image: Ceramic vessel by Stephanie Hammill

Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
Karen Warren (Tootsie)
“Someone commented to me
at a market, a few years ago
now, crafting is cool again.
Making things yourself is a
lot more appealing to people
again. … A lot of people are
appreciating handmade items
now and wanting to support
local business and local sole
business owner-makers.”
12                              13
Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
Tiff Manuel

     “I think I was always generally
     creative as a youngster — like
     I always made cards, I never
     bought a card. I would try and
     make something as opposed to
     buy something, and I saw the
     value and joy that people got out
     of receiving something made.”

14                                       15
Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
                                                               Rather they employ a number of tactics
                                                               in order to de-personalise their business,
     Contemporary Australian                                   moving identification of it away from them
     Craft and Design                                          and perhaps onto, for example, a disembod-
                                                               ied brand name.

     What clearly emerges in this project’s fin -
     ings is that contemporary makers are pur-
     suing DIY (‘Do It Yourself’) or ‘self-starter’
     entrepreneurial career paths. Not waiting
     for opportunities to fall into their laps, they
     have internalised the belief that they need to
     make them for themselves, as is increasingly
     required and expected of us as enterprising-
     citizen subjects. Even the self-identified shy
     or introverted makers, who would just rather
     get on with their creative practice in splendid
     isolation, learn the performative and discur-
     sive skills necessary to present their story
     and themselves as key to the value of the
     artisanal or handmade items they sell.

     The affordances of social media and the
     baseline of needing to have a personal
     website are key drivers here. Graduates,
     through their higher education training,
     and more established makers, through
     either word of mouth networks, their own
     writing/promotional skills, or targeted
     training sessions offered by professional
     and practice-centred associations, all vari-
     ously are made to engage with the entrepre-
     neurial self-branding required to operate in
     this highly aestheticised, self-performative,
     thoroughly Instagrammable marketplace.
     But while such self-branding is recognised
     as being ‘the norm’ or simply what’s required
     as an entry-level baseline, not all makers
     completely embrace the practice.

16   Images: Adam Coffey (Future Shelter)                                                                   17
     and Jax Isaacson (Jax and Co.) working in their studios
Crafting Self: Promoting the making self in the creative micro-economy - APO
er than design. We also get ‘textile artists’,
Area or Object of Making             Design and Ceramics                               1                                                     What do we mean by
                                                                                           ‘glass artists’ and so forth, especially among
Practice of interviewees             Tinsmith                                          1                                                     ‘Designer-Maker’?
                                                                                           our emerging maker cohort, and this is a
(Established and                     Machine Embroidery                                1
                                     Flamework Beads                                   1   direct result of the historical movements in      The phrase ‘designer-maker’ is one in-
Emerging Makers)
                                     Milliner                                          1   the field of craft education identified abov      creasingly employed in the contemporary
Glass                           16   Weaving                                           1   that align it further with art. As a result we    craft and design marketplace, especially
Ceramics                        15   Textiles - Knitting                               1
                                                                                           encountered comments such as ‘at uni we           among those seeking to make a full-time
Unassigned                      15
                                                                                           weren’t taken seriously if a craft maker’, as     living from their practice. It marks those
Jewellery                       14   ‘Craftsperson’ versus ‘Designer                       well as ‘art has a higher sale value’. So while   makers who may undertake original design
Metalsmith                      12   Maker’ — What’s in a Name                             many research participants proudly claimed        and prototyping themselves, but who, in
Furniture Design                9
                                                                                           their identification with craft, for others the   order to scale-up their production in ways
Textiles                        9    Contemporary craft is a splintering field
                                                                                           word ‘craft’ was seen a limiting, carrying        not always possible for a solo hand-maker,
Design                          5    marked by its burgeoning terminology:
                                                                                           a lot of baggage (especially slightly ‘daggy’     outsource some or all subsequent aspects of
Woodwork                        5    ‘designer’, ‘designer-maker’, ‘maker’,
                                                                                           associations with either the 1970s hippy era      production to other makers or machine-as-
Leatherwares                    5    ‘artisan’, ‘artist’, ‘craftsperson’. Obviously,
                                                                                           or more ‘grandma-ish’ CWA or hobbyist             sisted manufacturing processes.
Shoemaker                       4    lingering tensions persist around the polic-
                                                                                           connotations). These makers thus sought
Furniture Design                2    ing of the boundaries between ‘art’, ‘craft’
                                                                                           to either align their practice more closely
                                                                                                                                             The Contemporary Popularity of
Textiles/Jewellery              2    and ‘design’ as distinct fields of endeavor,
                                                                                           with art, or, moving in arguably the op-
                                                                                                                                             Craft and Small-Scale Design?
Papermaking                      1   bounded by their own rules, including
                                                                                           posite direction, chose to more strongly
Handpainted Accessories          1   around quality, legitimacy, expertise, au-                                                              While large-scale manufacturing is increas-
                                                                                           identify with design.
Textile Upcycled Accessories     1   thenticity and scalability. Today the fact is                                                           ingly moving to cheaper labour markets,
Upcycled Accessories             1   that much tertiary craft and design training                                                            making things — physical, material things
Soft Toys                        1   is increasingly undertaken in university arts                                                           — is re-emerging as a popular, largely mid-
Fibre Artist                     1   schools, with a growing focus on classroom                                                              dle-class activity; the same is true of buying
Graphic Design                   1   learning, not studio practice. This ironi-                                                              unique handmade items. The demand for
Woodturning (pens)               1   cally means that even more so than in the                                                               bespoke, handmade ‘design’ (as distinct
Pyrography                       1   early days of the roll-out of urban creative                                                            from ‘twee’) craft is clear in the growing
Furniture/Interior Design        1   industries policy as an economic growth                                                                 number of designer maker markets across
Gallerist/Jewellery/Glass        1   imperative, the winding back of expensive                                                               the country, and the exponential growth
Jewellery and Object Design      1   studio time is today having the effect of                                                               of online marketplaces for the handmade.
Textiles                         1   producing more makers with classical arts                                                               Mainstream consumer acceptance and the
Designer                         1   backgrounds.                                                                                            middle-class desirability of such products
Furniture and Lighting Design    1                                                                                                           reflects, in no small part, a wider shift in the
                                     A question we asked up-front in our                                                                     developed world towards ethical consump-
Shoemaker and Leatherwares       1
                                     project interviews was: ‘how do you iden-                                                               tion and environmental awareness. Along
Knifemaker                       1
Design and Illustration          1
                                     tify yourself?’ Frequently people sought                                                                with other increasingly popular micro-eco-
Illustration                     1   to bypass much of this loaded debate and                                                                nomic practices such as the rise of highly
Yarn worker                      1   simply have a primary identification with                                                               localised artisanal food production and
Glass Lampworking                1   their practice: ‘ceramicist’, ‘jeweller’, ‘met-                                                         farmers’ markets, and the commercial
Dog Collars                      1   alsmith’, ‘furniture maker’. These are often,
                                     but not exclusively, people more comfort-             Image: Vessels by Scott Van Tuil
                                     able identifying with the field of craft, rat -
18                                                                                                                                                                                        19
growth of fair trade items, buying
handmade clothing, accessories, gifts
and other items becomes part of a set of
ethical and self-aware purchasing be-
haviours. Contemporary handmade items
are positioned as an alternative to main-
stream consumer culture.

Across the study the idea repeatedly
emerged that people prefer to buy some-
thing handmade as an antidote to unsus-
tainable globalisation, or at least in order to
support local economies to which they can
meaningfully belong. This was especially
apparent among those with a stronger iden-
tification with craft. That people appreciate
things that aren’t mass produced and that
they can have a more meaningful relation-
ship with was a recurring motif, clearly
supported by their interactions with cus-
tomers. In an age of fast fashion, craft and
well-designed objects are part of a rejection
of disposability, of changing everything
every six months. So too, rare trades are be-
coming popular and offer a sense of a larger
story of making and connection to history,
community and family. Ditto repair cafes
and practices. What was seen throughout
the study was that people with the resources
to do so don’t don’t mind spending more if
they know where an object has come from,
and that they’re directly supporting some-
body’s livelihood.

                                                  Images: Helen Mansbridge (Pili Pala) works on her
                                                                  jewellery and Bella Head's loom
20                                                                                                    21
Whilst discouraging, this statement is not
     2. Why People Make                                    entirely unfounded. One of our participants
                                                           whose parents were both artists, recalls the
                                                           financial and associated emotional stru -
     Within our cohort of research participants,
                                                           gles their family endured in the pursuit of
     both emerging and established, we found a
                                                           creative careers. It was this that made him
     wide variety of interests, work experiences
                                                           determined to establish his own strong fi-
     and career development motivations.
                                                           nancial base and business acumen pursuing
                                                           another career, before later in life returning
     Several of our participants identified the
                                                           to making and the development of creative
     catalytic role that either their parents,
                                                           enterprise inspired by his grandfather.
     grandparents or significant adults in their
     life played in enabling and inspiring the
                                                           It goes without saying that the nature of our
     development of their creative passion.
                                                           educational experiences plays a significant
     For some, the exposure was watching and
                                                           role in shaping our lives. Choosing to send
     working alongside grandparents in their
                                                           a child to school in education environments
     sheds, sewing rooms, kitchens, studios or
                                                           supportive of creative making and creative
     farms. For others, whilst their parents were
                                                           enterprise is significantly influenced b
     not artists or craftspeople they were cre-
                                                           family attitudes and valuing creativity, mak-
     ative in other ways; in their approach to life,
                                                           ing and the arts. Interestingly, and perhaps
     an attitude of resourcefulness — of repair
                                                           not surprisingly, a disproportionate number
     and making do, or the shed-based tinkerer.
                                                           of our interviewees attended Montessori,
     Other research participants gained creative
                                                           Steiner or other non-traditional schools
     insight and inspiration through their paren-
                                                           with a strengths-based approach to foster-
     tal professional pursuits such as engineer-
                                                           ing and supporting an individual’s educa-
     ing and architecture.
                                                           tional pursuits. But reassuringly for those
                                                           without the family economic resources or
     While people would prefer to recall the
                                                           cultural histories that may see them at-
     positive influence significant adults ca
                                                           tending such an independent school, across
     play in their development, there were also
                                                           school types many of our interviewees cited
     numerous people we interviewed whose
                                                           the influence of a ‘great teacher’ inspiring
     intended pursuit of a creative career was
                                                           and supporting them in the development
     strongly discouraged. For many this dis-
                                                           and pursuit of their creative making.
     couragement started at school when need-
     ing to choose between undertaking sci-
     ence-based or arts-based subject streams.
     Many recalled influential people in their
     lives stating things like: ‘you can’t make a
     decent living as an artist’.

     Image: Craig Northam (BUCK!T) working with salvaged bicycle tyres

22                                                                                                        23
We also interviewed many people who
did not have an education rich in the arts,
yet, despite this, they are now running
a creative enterprise. In most instances
there was often a life event that was a cat-
alyst for them to focus on developing their
crafting/making enterprise. Some of our
research participants’ creative pursuits
were inspired by travel where they were
exposed to people, artefacts, and in some
cases making processes that stimulated
and informed the development of the
products and enterprise.

For some the suppression of their creative/
making instincts during their schooling and
daily work lives became too much to bear.
Often the birth of a child and parenting was
enough of a break from the workforce to
enable them to develop the skills and spaces
in their homes and daily schedules to allow
them to create and make. For many this
was a transition from creative therapy, to
serious hobby, to creative enterprise.

 The hands of makers from top of page (L to R):
      Scott Van Tuil, Jax Isaacson (Jax and Co.),
      Julie Frahm, Gill Gordiner, Jordan Gower,
                       Bella Head, Emma Young,
                      Karen Warren (Tootsie) and
                  Adam Coffey (Future Shelter)

24                                                  25
Jax Isaacson (Jax and Co.)

“I think my work ethic and
my enjoyment of the physical
part of the job, that comes from
growing up on a farm. I remember
doing jobs [around the farm] when
I was six and seven, driving the ute
out into the paddock to round up
sheep by myself when I was seven.”
3. Where People Are
                                                                media contact can be one mechanism by
                                                                which existing friends and previous custom-
     Selling in the Australian                                  ers look to reconnect, and recommission,
     Craft and Designer-                                        work from a maker. In this way, even on-
     Maker Marketplace                                          line, selling relationships frequently tended
                                                                to be both socially and geographically local.

                                                                Where our research participants
     A number of the questions in the study
                                                                (Established Makers) are selling:
     sought to identify the actual outlets peo-
     ple were selling through. In particular, the
     question: ‘Which of the following best de-                                                          Total:
     scribes the current distribution methods for                                                     (in top 3
     your craft product?’ that we asked interview
                                                                Word of mouth                                  22
     participants to complete themselves directly
                                                                Direct to retailers (other                     17
     onto the page. What is not evident in the                  than galleries)
     figures presented here is that in approx -                 Direct to public from studio/                  17
     mately half of the cases where people sold                 workshop/home
     primarily through public craft fairs or street             Public craft fairs                             16

     markets this was far and away their primary                Online                                         16

     outlet, often listed at 60% or above. Much                 Through a commercially                         16
                                                                funded gallery or exhibition
     of the balance of their sales was then made
                                                                Direct commissions                             14
     via ‘word of mouth’, often repeat custom-
                                                                Through a craft shop                           14
     ers (having first purchased off them at th
                                                                Through a publicly funded                      10
     market) or people who were aware of their                  gallery or exhibition
     work through friendship networks. In this                  Wholesalers                                    10
     way the majority of the people we have                     Street markets                                  7
     spoken to are still selling ‘directly’ to cus-             Trade-only fairs                                1
     tomers; if not directly ‘hand-to-hand’, then               Other (co-ops/artist                            2
     generally within limited geographies and/                  collectives)
     or social networks. Perhaps ironically, the
     desire for some degree of intimacy with the                (NB. No response or percentage given = 20
                                                                out of 81. Where equal percentages provided
     experience of buying is one reason for the
                                                                at 1st and 2nd all apportioned to top value,
     rise of Instagram as a marketing and sales
                                                                with corresponding number of further levels
     tool; makers reporting success in this space               left empty. If multiples given at 3rd option
     noted the importance of the personal ‘word                 data not included)
     of mouth’ recommendations to ‘friends of
     friends’ that are easily enabled via the af-
     fordances of social media. Moreover, social

     Image: Hand lettering by Doris Chang (Little Sister Co.)
28                                                                                                             29
world are factored into the buying decision.       • Great online tutorials and other resourc-
                                                                                                               For others still, online sale sites lacked the        es for sellers
Where People are Selling (Breakdown)                                                                           personal touch and the facility for poten-         • Great benefits if chosen as a featured
                                                                                                               tial customers to ‘try on’ the highly tactile,        seller or get some other boost like that
                                            Main outlet      2nd most          3rd most            Total:      handmade product.                                  • Might consider joining to be part of the
                                                            significant      significant        (in top 3                                                            local Etsy physical markets
                                                                 outlet           outlet         outlets)      The Experience of Selling
Online                                               7                5                4               16      Online — Tips and Pitfalls                         Interviewees’ Perceived
Word of mouth                                        8                11               3                22                                                        Limitations of Etsy:
Direct to retailers (other than                     10                6                1                17     For those who have had success online (es-
                                                                                                                                                                  • It’s too big — easy to get lost
galleries)                                                                                                     pecially on Etsy), the trick has been to find
                                                                                                                                                                  • People expect to pay low prices making it
Direct to public from studio/                        9                 7               1                17     the right balance between the costs associ-
                                                                                                                                                                     difficult to compete with cheaper m -
workshop/home                                                                                                  ated with uploading the item for sale (in-
                                                                                                                                                                     kets; also competing with markets with
Direct commissions                                   4                 7               3                14     cluding notably photographing the pieces),
                                                                                                                                                                     greater economies of scale (e.g. US)
Wholesalers                                          2                4                4                10     and the income to be generated from them.
                                                                                                                                                                  • Perception that it is a saturated market
Trade-only fairs                                      1               0                0                   1   Primarily, there are two divergent paths to
                                                                                                                                                                  • Keeping it updated is time-consuming
Public craft fairs                                   4                2                1                   7   take here: if it’s a one-off product, make it a
                                                                                                                                                                     and fiddl
Street markets                                      10                5                1                16     high-end/expensive one to cover the costs
                                                                                                                                                                  • Pointing people towards Etsy can
Through a craft shop                                 4                2                1                 7     associated with photographing, describ-
                                                                                                                                                                     mean lost sales because potential
Through a publicly funded gallery                    3                 7               0                10     ing, costing and generally listing it; if it’s a
                                                                                                                                                                     customers are more easily able to
or exhibition
                                                                                                               cheaper one, make sure it’s reproduceable,
Through a commercially                               9                 5               2                16                                                           access competitors
                                                                                                               including each listed colorway. For makers
funded gallery                                                                                                                                                    • Harder for people with less obvious
                                                                                                               with insecure supply chains, including those
Other (co-ops/artist collectives)                    2                0                0                   2                                                         products because of the limitations of
                                                                                                               seeking to source environmentally (off-cuts,
                                                                                                                                                                     the keyword search
                                                                                                               recycling, etc.), guaranteeing a high level of
                                                                                                                                                                  • Not good for one-off designs because of
(N.B Top three responses to the question                  having success online, very few stayed on            product consistency is not easy; they tended
                                                                                                                                                                     the time it takes to get the descriptions
regarding where Established Makers sell their             Etsy and equivalent sites long after this ini-       to lean online towards the faster-to-update
                                                                                                                                                                     and images online
work. No response or percentage given = 20 out            tial moment of hype. Instead, social media,          Facebook and Instagram to advertise these
                                                                                                                                                                  • If you don’t want to get lost in Etsy need
of 81. Where equal percentages provided at 1st                                                                 products, rather than Etsy or similar store-
                                                          Instagram in particular, or simply direct                                                                  to pay for advertising
and 2nd all apportioned to top value, with corre-
                                                          contact via email or from a business/per-            like platforms.
sponding number of further levels left empty. If                                                                                                                  • Needs lots of marketing expertise
                                                          sonal website were the online mechanisms                                                                   and time
multiples given at 3rd option data not included).                                                              Interviewees’ Perceived
                                                          leading most directly to sales. In spite of                                                             • Costs of running an Etsy shop mean
                                                          the hype of the global marketplace, as we
                                                                                                               Strengths of Etsy:
When the project was initially proposed in                                                                                                                           that need a certain turnover to make
                                                                                                               • Really easy to use, with lots of guidance
2014, Etsy and other online outlets for the               know geography matters; especially when                                                                    it worthwhile
                                                                                                                  about how to present work etc.
handmade were experiencing a moment                       the products you’re selling exist as physical,                                                          • Not good for small items like cards, be-
                                                                                                               • Good alternative for an online presence
of exponential growth, coupled with the                   often fragile, items, not digital files. Those                                                             cause delivering a single card, for exam-
                                                                                                                  to support markets and other sale points
wider media hype that comes with the new.                 research participants who sought to shift                                                                  ple, is too time consuming and expensive
                                                                                                               • Trustworthy
Consequently, the possibilities for further               their focus to other sales avenues offered                                                              • It is reductive — as one maker says:
                                                                                                               • Easier to get traction than with than an
decentralisation of production as a result of             a number of reasons for their lack of suc-                                                                 ‘Everyone that I talk with, when I ask
                                                                                                                  individual website
online international retailing via ‘long tail’            cess with online selling sites. For some, the                                                              ‘oh where did you get these from?’, they
                                                                                                               • Takes care of things like currency
(Anderson 2007) distribution networks was                 sheer number of sellers was seen as an im-                                                                 always say Etsy, they never say the
an initial focus of the study. However, what              pediment to the visibility of their products.                                                              designer’s name.’
                                                                                                               • Can develop good networks with
we have actually found is that while some                 For others, sales volumes did not warrant
                                                                                                                  other makers
of the makers we interviewed were indeed                  the effort, especially when the costs of
                                                          postage from Australia to elsewhere in the
30                                                                                                                                                                                                               31
Doris Chang (Little Sister Co.)
     “Right now it’s very much
     local; all of my wholesalers are
     based in Adelaide. There’s been
     a few times when people have
     purchased items as gifts for
     people overseas which has been
     lovely, but on a wider scale right
     now it’s very much local.”

32                                        33
Scott Van Tuil

“So that idea of knowing exactly
where it’s come from — I love that
idea of you literally owning or can
hold a small piece of Tasmania.”
34                                    35
• Selling on consignment can be fraught. You      • Cater to niche markets — address spe-
               “How easy or difficult do
                                                                                                               can tie up a large amount of stock, and thus      cific community needs (for example, are
               you find the following
                                                                                                               materials, without control over its condi-        there lots of young children in communi-
               aspects of running your
                                                                                                               tion or promotional profile and context; we       ty, and few retail options?).
                                                                                                               even heard from one jeweller whose work         • Increasing costs of the city mean that
                        Updating your online shop (%)                                                          was stolen (not returned) and melted down         regional centres are developing. It is
                                                                                                               when a retail venture closed.                     more feasible to afford a studio-sho -
                                                                                                             • Benefit from economies of scale by selling        front outside of urban centres, and you
                                                                                                               in more than one place.                           can also then afford to take more risks
                                                                                                             • A lot of sales are on consignment which         • When people travel they like to
                                                                                                               is difficult because the money has bee            take something home that is unique
                                                                                                               spent but retailers might not be pushing          and has a memory attached to it.
                                                                                                               the product.                                      Beyond markets and high profile retail
                                                                                                             • People coming to markets have a broad age
No. of Users

                                                                                                                                                                 shopfronts, think about other ways to
                                                                                                               range — cater to all of them, or look to one      reach this tourist market (e.g. via maga-
                                                                                                               that isn’t well-catered for. This can include     zines and brochures in hotels).
                                                                                                               the need for more men’s products at some
                                                                                                               markets; men may not be there in numbers,
                                                                                                               but people who buy for them are.
                                                                                                             • Markets important for building up profile
                                                                                                               as well as direct sales. Always have pro-
                                                                                                               motional business cards for people to take
                                                                                                               away – amazing how much business can be
                                                                                                               follow-up contacts after an event.
                                                                                                             • At markets need to have a range of
                                                                                                               price points.
                                                                                                             • The exposure from markets also
                                                                                                               includes being on the websites, and in
               Selling — General Comments:                         more so than outsourcing production         email newsletters.
                                                                   was, across the project, increasingly     • Markets are also an opportunity to meet
               • In the final year of data collection (2018)       seen as the answer to many maker's          with other makers, learn new ways of doing
                    and thus in a maturing and increasing-         quests for balanced growth.                 things.
                    ly saturated market, we noted a small        • Online sales don’t tend to work for       • Leverage the ‘made locally’ which
                    increase in the number of people either        highly individualised products.             appeals to both locals and tourists, for
                    already using or exploring the possibility   • Online doesn’t always open you up to        example through having location-branded
                    of outsourcing distribution via a whole-       new geographical audiences — limita-        lines or other niche products
                    saler or other broker.                         tions include postage and delivery; the     customised to location.
               • Outsourcing business tasks (bookkeep-             way Google searches direct people to
                    ing, marketing, social media, and even         local sites; people don’t want to order
                    staffing markets, as well as distribution      without seeing in real life first
                                                                                                                                                                 Image: Textile design by Tiff Manuel

               36                                                                                                                                                                                          37
Emma Young
     “I can take little videos and photos of
     processes and I think people really like
     seeing that … they have a good following
     and sure maybe not many people have
     bought things, but then I really noticed
     that at the end of last year I did three
     different markets for Christmas and
     every single one I had so many people
     come and say I have followed you on
     Instagram for the past three years and
     I’ve always wanted a frog cake [glass
     piece] and finally I am going to get
     myself one.”

38                                              39
4. Social Media and its
                                                              this new and increasingly crowded market
                                                              what is clearly starting to emerge is the
     Impact Upon Contempo-                                    challenge of, and time commitment needed
     rary Craftspeople                                        to, develop and maintain an online presence
     and Designer-Makers                                      that helps them stand out from the crowd.
                                                              Successful creative self-employment is
                                                              clearly more than a case of ‘build it (online)
     Many current makers still recall the pre-in-             and they will come’. Indeed rather than be-
     ternet craft marketplace where professional              ing a licence for instant success and profile,
     practice-based associations (not commer-                 having an online professional identity — not
     cial operators) ran ‘professional’ craft fairs           just for makers but more widely for workers
     where stalls were run by, amongst others,                across many creative professions — is now
     potters, glass artists, jewellers, instrument            simply a taken for granted starting, not end,
     makers and textile artists, all of whom                  point. It is something you need to have as
     handed their goods over to the purchaser                 a default; it will not necessarily build your
     wrapped in newspaper. In this recent past                reputation or sales, but existing online on
     branding was a business card and, if you                 a professional website proves simply that
     had a computer, a rudimentary website.                   you exist, are contactable. Being ‘Goo-
     Today, image is everything, as is cultivat-              gle-able’ professionally is a new baseline,
     ing your own brand, even if that ‘brand’                 offering evidence of the reality and legit -
     is you. Now the norm is to have multiple                 macy of your professional identity. Oper-
     social media presences, thus adding a layer              ating in tandem with, but not effectively in
     of complexity and increased demand upon                  addition to, your offline presenc
     the time creative entrepreneurs need to
                                                              A concerning early tendency especially
     spend working on their business, above and
                                                              among the emerging makers we interviewed
     beyond the actual work of making. It is not
                                                              was the false security that having an on-
     surprising therefore that the vast majority
                                                              line business identity brings with it. While
     of our interviewees report significant hours
                                                              emerging makers were far more likely to
     are spent creating and maintaining a pro-
                                                              report finding marketing ‘do-able’ as co -
     fessional and engaging online presence,
                                                              pared with established makers, despite this
     not to mention building and sustaining the
                                                              on the whole they clearly did not have the
     networks which make these sites useful and
                                                              web traffic, sales or profile of those w
     viable as promotional tools.
                                                              found this aspect of their practice more
     For most within the Australian craft and                 difficult. The maintenance of social medi
     designer-maker community setting up one’s                profiles can take up much of the time ma -
     own website and perhaps professional so-                 ers have to give to their business each week.
     cial media presence is relatively easy, but in

     Image: Bella Head takes pictures of her weaving thread

40                                                                                                           41
The simplicity, especially for so-called      least for Australian makers, emerged           the processes of making, and thus potential-     • Hashtags make Instagram easier to
               digital natives, of creating online profes-   as one of the stand-out findings of the        ly a stronger connection with the product          use than Facebook — ‘better reach’
               sional profiles appears to be masking the     research. In this stylised and design-ori-     itself by providing some of the story behind     • With Facebook it’s hard to get beyond
               real challenges of building a reputation      ented marketplace, Instagram is proving        the work. Our participants were also pretty        friends and to drive new business
               or brand — particularly across multiple       successful especially for those whose work     skilled at using social media to tell a story      without paying
               social media, business website and retail     lends itself to presentation in aspirational   about themselves, and had cultivated the         • Instagram tags can find new creatives,
               website platforms — that converts to sales    interior or modelled settings. For those       skills required to present the kind of per-        new accounts and they can find you; a
               and not just ‘likes’.                         makers with a skillset that incorporates       sonal statements increasingly generic in this      way of exploring new stockists.
                                                             styling and photography skills alongside       space (the connection of craft and design
               “What social media platforms                  making, this aspirational styling in many      with arts training is again of note given the
               are you actively marketing/self-              ways forms a significant part of the value     longer history of artists statements as a pro-
               promoting through?”:                          of the product being sold.                     filing genre). But interviewees also noted
                                                                                                            needing to make decisions about how much
               Early on in this project, the popularity of
                                                             Social media is seen as important in culti-
                                                                                                            to share, and few featured their children or
               Instagram over websites such as Etsy, at
                                                             vating in possible buyers a connection with
                                                                                                            family in any of their marketing photogra-
                                                                                                            phy (though pets seem fairer game!)

                            Social Media (%)                                                                Social Media —
                                                                                                            General Comments
                                                                                                            • The Instagram and Facebook combina-
                                                                                                               tion is a common one for makers
                     80.0                                                                                   • If you start an Instagram account, quick-
                                                                                                               ly make links to Facebook and/or your
                     60.0                                                                                      own website — people don’t want a sales
                                                                                                               pitch in the visual environment so link
                                                                                                               them to this elsewhere from the photo
No. of Users

                                                                                                            • Post from Instagram to Facebook
                                                                                                               and vice versa
                     20.0                                                                                   • Managing all of the platforms takes a
                                                                                                               lot of time — pick one or two and do
                                                                                                               them well
                                                                                                            • Differentiate between the platforms, use
                                                                                                               some to curate, some to sell; also diffe -
                                                                                                               entiate within platforms with personal
                                                                                                               pages and business pages
                                                                                                            • YouTube is good for finding new skills
                                                                                                               and helping with problem-solving (in-
                                                                                                               cluding social media and marketing is-
                                                                                                               sues), overcoming for regional, rural and
                                                                                                               remote makers some of the negatives of
                                                                                                               being away from support organisations
                                                                                                                                                             Image: Pouch by Karen Warren (Tootsie)
                                                                                                               and other makers
               42                                                                                                                                                                                       43
Such information and guidance were
               “How easy or difficult do you
                                                       sought through web searches, networking
               find the following aspects of
                                                       with other makers and professional asso-
               running your business:
                                                       ciations. Marketing generally, and social
                                                       media in particular, were key areas that
                                                       makers reported wanting more support
               Most respondents mentioned how much
                                                       and training in.
               time and effort marketing (especially
               online) takes and felt there must be
               better ways to do it.

                         Marketing (%)



No. of Users




                                                                        Images from top of page (L to R):
                                                            Textile design by Phillipa Julien (Till Design);
                                                        Illustration on card by Doris Chang (Little Sister
                                                                Co.); Necklace by Gill Gordiner; Glass by
                                                             Emma Young; Illustration by Pip Kruger and
                                                                         Ceramic by Annemieke Mulders

               44                                                                                              45
Julie Frahm
     “I love Instagram, I really do, I like
     it a lot. I kind of like looking at my feed
     and just seeing what I’ve been doing ...
     I'm kind of not there to sell my work,
     I'm more there just to represent my
     work because part of me feels like if I
     don’t represent my work online someone
     else is going to start representing similar
     work to mine and claim it in a way and
     I think no, I’d rather just be in control of
     what I'm making and I'm putting it out
     there and it’s acknowledged as mine.”

46                                                  47
Jordan Gower
“You could see the people who
really wanted to do art as a full
time thing — they were the ones
that were out there networking ...
It’s a really social thing, you have to
be seen or even send someone a
message saying ‘I can’t go tonight’
just to let them know, just to get
your name in their head.”

48                                        49
5. Acquiring Craft and
                                                      Regardless of their making origin story,
                                                      the makers we interviewed had a diversi-
     Design Knowledge Skills                          ty of sites and modes through which they
                                                      have acquired and developed their craft-
                                                      ing and design skills. In addition to their
     Since colonisation, the formal acquisition
                                                      innate interest and passion for making,
     of craft and making skills in Australia in-
                                                      many of our research participants ac-
     cluding via formal education in the ‘applied
                                                      quired their skills through a combination
     arts’, has run in step with the modes of
                                                      of formal and informal education, train-
     training and education in the UK. That said,
                                                      ing and mentorship.
     many craft and making skills have been
     handed down through the tacit exchange           Whilst the sites of informal knowledge
     of knowledge and teaching through applied        exchange and learning are as varied as
     practice in private and community spaces.        the individuals in our study and relative-
                                                      ly independent from any policy infl -
     In considering where, how and when
                                                      ence, an individual’s experience of for-
     individuals acquire their craft and design
                                                      mal education, through technical college,
     knowledge, it is useful to reflect on the pr -
                                                      university or other accredited education
     files of practitioners developed by the Crafts
                                                      provider is significantly influenced b
     Council, Creative Scotland, the Arts Coun-
                                                      federal and state economic and educa-
     cil of Wales and Craft Northern Ireland in
                                                      tional policy, and the remit and pedagog-
     the report Craft in an Age of Change (BOP
                                                      ical focus of the institution providing the
     Consulting 2012). They identify four key
                                                      education at the time.
     pathways into professional craft practice:
     • Craft careerists: committed to the idea        This report does not have space to pro-
        of craft as a career, they move to start      vide a detailed history of the education
        their businesses shortly after finishing      and training environment in Australia
        their first (or second) degrees in craft      supporting the development of crafts-
        related subjects.                             people and designer makers. Suffice t
     • Artisans: do not have academic degrees         say, the restructuring of the higher edu-
        in the subject but nevertheless have          cation sector in the late 1980s, including
        made craft their first career                 the absorption of many technical colleges
     • Career changers: begin their working           in which art and craft education and
        lives in other careers before taking up       training resided into the universities,
        craft as a profession, often in mid-life.     has highlighted the tensions and value
     • Returners: makers who trained in art,          laden differentiation between a universty
        craft or design, but who followed another     education involving what are considered
        career path before ‘returning’ to             higher cognitive skills and a more the-
        craft later on.                               oretical approach, as compared to the

     Image: Kath Inglis working in her studio

50                                                                                               51
kinds of training offered through a more        to spend time on up-skilling or product           education in the arts was a ‘lifestyle choice’,
hands-on education with a focus on man-         research and development. Moreover, the           the future of government supported educa-
ual and technical skill such as traditionally   making skills of those now entering ad-           tion in the crafts and applied art disciplines
offered by technical colleges (TAFE)            vanced training programs (those that take         does not look bright.
                                                on university graduates) are seen as inferior
The absorption of visual art, craft and de-                                                       In the digital future, craft and design skills
                                                to those of their predecessors as a result
sign programs from technical colleges into                                                        embedded and working in collaboration
                                                of the loss of university studio and TAFE
the university system catalysed a change                                                          with industry are essential to innovation
                                                courses. The result is that rather than fine
in pedagogical focus for many design and                                                          as Australia looks to develop high-end
                                                tuning the advanced making skills of
craft-based programs. Alongside the gradu-                                                        advanced manufacturing. However, our
                                                Australia’s top craft and design students,
al pedagogical shift occurred a tightening of                                                     capacity to grow pioneering manufacturing
                                                much time is now spent more remedially
university funding mechanism and a conse-                                                         is profoundly threatened by the generation-
                                                replicating the hands-on training that
quent rationalisation in investment in staff                                                      al loss of the often highly-embodied nature
                                                once was the core of craft post-secondary
levels and student contact hours. In the                                                          of crafts and hands-on making expertise.
                                                or TAFE education.
disciplines of applied arts or crafts where                                                       With this loss of practical making skills and
learning is structured around doing, this       The rationalisation of investment in educa-       knowledge of materials and their capaci-
diminution of time in the studio has had a      tion and training over the years has run in       ties further compounded by the closure of
significant impact on the calibre of making     parallel to changes in the Australian eco-        many key TAFE courses focussed on craft
skills acquired by emerging graduates.          nomic and industrial landscape, with many         and manual skills, and the winding back of
                                                industries that once employed artisanal           expensive studio training by schools and
The influence of this change in training                                                          universities, this deficit affects not onl
                                                labour moving offshore such as the textile,
and educational experience and skills                                                             current industries, but also threatens future
                                                clothing and footwear industries. One of
acquisition is made clear when comparing                                                          innovation and the growth of high-end
                                                our interviewees, an emerging shoe maker,
experiences between our 1-Ups and our                                                             manufacturing at a time of profound glob-
                                                lamented the fact that the closure of the
Established Makers. Commonly, our Es-                                                             al change enabled by advances in digital
                                                shoe making course at TAFE in Adelaide
tablished Makers undertook their formal                                                           technology. Craft skills enable both niche
                                                now made it extremely hard to access train-
education during a time when, relative to                                                         and mass manufacturing, including in the
                                                ing and skills development in this contin-
now, there was greater support for govern-                                                        car industry, engineering and aeronautics.
                                                ually in-demand area. Whilst many of the
ment investment in education and the arts.                                                        Materials innovation is occurring around
                                                artisanal/craft-based courses survived the
In addition, during the formative stages of                                                       new fibres and smart materials (e.g. the
                                                original transition from technical college
practice development they had the oppor-                                                          production of new fibres from algae).
                                                to university, successive neo-liberal fund-
tunity to access a relatively better funded                                                       The skills of craft traverse into and across
                                                ing cuts have seen government investment
range of arts funding programs than are on                                                        other fields of production, including ma -
                                                in craft and manufacturing-focused areas
offer today. This loss of developmental and
                                                depleted, despite the ongoing demand from         ufacture, and vice versa; nurturing and ex-
hands-on expertise can only be compensat-
                                                the artisanal sector as well as manufactur-       tending such innovation into the digital fu-
ed for so much through individual entrepre-
                                                ing, for these niche skills, especially when it   ture is essential to Australia’s economy, and
neurialism, especially when those entering
                                                comes to R&D and innovation. Within this          to do this we need first to better understand
the craft and designer-maker sector today
                                                policy environment and with a former Fed-         the importance of craft skills to making in
are often too busy bringing in an income
                                                eral Education Minister asserting that an         Australia, as well as their capacity to sustain
                                                                                                  the kind of micro-enterprises that were the
                                                                                                                                                    Image: Phillipa Julien (Till Designs) views
                                                                                                  focus of this study.
                                                                                                                                                    her textile design
52                                                                                                                                                                                                53
Adam Coffey (Future Shelter)

“A lot of makers that I see
struggle with trying to align
what they’re really good at
and what they enjoy doing,
with what makes money.
You may go into something
and it is really niche and then
suddenly, say, after your
2000th knife are you really
still into making knives?”

54                                55
Emma Bugg
“I really wanted this year to be about
experimentation. It’s great to be able
to make money from my jewellery,
but I feel pressure to always be working
towards a money goal, because obviously,
we all need to live. But there’s freedom
in having the grant — I can take time,
paid time, away from needing to make
commercial output to experiment.”
56                                         57
6. Making as a Living
                                                      employment can be at least partly ac-
                                                      counted for in terms of inequalities within
                                                      contemporary workplaces, especially when
                                                      it comes to accommodating employment
     “I think if this was any
                                                      alongside care-giving responsibilities. For
     other time for me in my life
                                                      some this dream is one they seek to pursue
     and any other situation if we
                                                      with a life partner as a ‘back to the future’
     were living anywhere else,
                                                      family workshop way of reconfiguring an
     this could never have occurred,
                                                      idealised work-life balance in the twen-
     it was amalgamation of time
                                                      ty-first century. Such a vision of reconci -
     and materials and everything
                                                      iation of work and life speaks especially
     coming together.”
                                                      to middle class, first world aspirations for
            Jax Isaacson (Jax and Co.)
                                                      ‘something better’ than the grindstone of
     At a time of growing employment                  family unfriendly employment.
     uncertainty, shrinking arts funding, and
                                                      But as has emerged in our findings as
     a governmental policy emphasis on encour-
                                                      elsewhere (Throsby and Zednik 2010),
     aging small business, self-employment and
                                                      ever-present economic precarity underpins
     the development of a craft or designer
                                                      the sector which is significantly propped
     maker micro-enterprise can seem like an
                                                      up financially by family savings, partner
     attractive and logical option for makers.
                                                      earnings (and sometimes labour), retire-
     Certainly what emerges in our research,
                                                      ment or redundancy packages, a willingness
     as elsewhere (in other creative employ-
                                                      to make the financial trade-off to live wit
     ment sectors and national contexts), is that
                                                      less, or multiple jobs to support needs and
     self-employment is becoming ever more
                                                      lifestyles. Those of our interviewees whose
     regularised as a response to wider so-
                                                      alternate source of income was related
     cio-economic global forces; indeed estab-
                                                      in some way to creative practice such, as
     lishing an online creative business profile is
                                                      gallery assistants or art teaching, expressed
     a normalised default setting for emerging
                                                      less contestation for time between their
     and established makers alike.
                                                      making practice and their ‘paid’ job.
     The potential rewards of successful design
                                                      This often precarious self-employment is
     craft self-employment are considerable:
                                                      therefore also masking considerable un-
     making sales and money doing what you
                                                      and under-employment. The social and
     love, on your own schedule, being your own
                                                      economic costs to individuals, families and
     boss, and importantly having the flexibility
                                                      wider society of all this effort and risk-ta -
     to organise one’s working day around the
                                                      ing are profound and require greater atten-
     needs of significant others. For certainly,
                                                      tion as part of wider cultural and economic
     the growth of home-based creative self-
                                                      policy making, for example around how

     Image: Tiff Manuel's retail space

58                                                                                                    59
self-employment and contract work fit
     in alongside social welfare support struc-
     tures, such as eligibility for unemployment

     Importantly too, the relatively low incomes
     many of the respondents make from their
     creative practice means that very few are
     able or prepared to take the financial risk
     of scaling up their enterprise, or to contrib-
     ute to a superannuation fund, at least not
     from their craft or designer-maker work.
                                                      Maker Incomes
     Some contribute from other employment
     sources or have historically; others still       Established Makers — ‘Annual income earned from craft practice’
                                                      (if selected two took lower option)
     referred to their owned home as their su-
     perannuation. The long-term and gendered
                                                      Income Bracket                Number of             Gender -      Gender -        Couple            No
     implications here are important to acknowl-                                    Responses              Female          Male                      Response
     edge. Additionally, across the four years of     Below $10,000                        24             21 (33%)      3 (20%)             0               0
     the study, less than five makers had Income      $10,000-$30,000                         23          19 (30%)       4 (27%)            0               0
     Protection Insurance. Most of these ‘yes’        $30,000-$60,000                         18          12 (19%)       4 (27%)             1               1
     respones to this question around income          $60,000-$80,000                          6              4 (6%)      2 (13%)           0               0
     protection emerged in the final year of the      $80,000-$100,000                          1             1 (2%)      0 (0%)            0               0
     study, often as recommended by an accoun-        Over $100,000                            4              3 (5%)       1 (7%)           0               0
     tant and alongside setting up a superannu-       No response                               5             4 (6%)       1 (7%)           0               0
     ation account around the creative practice.      Total                                   81                 64           15             1               1
     People more likely to be in a position to
     take up or have this recommended to them         Established Makers — ‘Annual income earned from craft practice’
                                                      (if selected two took lower option)
     tended to be male research participants
     with young families.                             Income Bracket            Number of Responses            Number of Responses        Number of Responses
                                                                                            – Year 1                       – Year 2                   – Year 3
                                                      Below $10,000                               2                              12                          8
                                                      $10,000-$30,000                                    9                          7                       5
                                                      $30,000-$60,000                                     1                         5                       2
                                                      $60,000-$80,000                                     1                         0                       0
                                                      $80,000-                                           0                          0                       0
                                                      Over $100,000                                      0                          0                       0
                                                      No response                                        0                          0                       0
                                                      Total                                              33                     24                          15

                                                      Images: Earrings by Emma Bugg and
                                                      illustrations by Doris Chang (Little Sister Co.)
60                                                                                                                                                          61
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