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    The 10 benefits of handmade


    By Emma Clark Gratton

    In theory, we all know the benefits of handmade. The anti-globalisation catch-cry of ‘Think global, act local’ has definitely hit home, with handmade and craft-based micro businesses popping up everywhere. But the very real, tangible benefits of making, using and buying handmade products have an effect that goes beyond a simple business transaction. We’ve outlined ten ways that the handmade economy is a win-win for everyone.

    For the maker…

    Keep craft skills alive

    Traditional skills such as crochet, macramé and embroidery have had a comeback in the past couple of years, despite few people actually needing these skills in the same way that we did 100 years ago. Keeping these skills alive and active is an important part of our cultural heritage, and worthy of support.

    Spread joy

    The reason why most people start handmade or creative businesses is because they are passionate about what they do. They love their work, and want to share it with the world. Buy handmade and support the spreading of joy and happiness!

    Support the person

    When you buy handmade, you are literally supporting a person, not a faceless corporation. The products might be made on the kitchen table in between school pick ups, or by a particularly creative lady who left the corporate world behind to make unique products. And the (small) profit they earn will go directly to them, not to line the pockets of some guy in a suit.

    For the buyer…

    More unique

    You only need to look at the shelves of your local Woolies to see the range of products dwindling in response to cost-cutting measures. With out the ‘make this cheaper at all costs!’ impetus of most mass-produced industries, the handmade economy throws up way more creative, unique and customised outcomes. This diversity is of huge benefit to the consumer – mo’ money, mo’ problems (or something like that).

    Better made

    Again, without a corporation’s bottom line looming over every detail of a business, handmade products are generally much better made than mass produced goods. Plus, if something does break, the maker is usually more than happy to repair your product.

    Fuller experience

    A study researching cheeses in America found that consumers prefer buying ‘artisan’ cheese because they feel it provides a fuller ‘sensory experience.’ This is a factor of both intrinsic properties, like better taste, and extrinsic properties, like the joy of finding something you really love. Even just the knowledge that a product was handcrafted contributed to the feeling of a better experience because there is a relatable, knowable back-story.

    For everyone…

    Much, much greener

    This is an obvious one, but buying local handmade products is a trillion times more sustainable. Less transport, less overheads, less waste. Work done by hand takes less energy than a mass production assembly line, which makes it more environmentally sustainable.

    Support the economy

    Studies have shown that locally owned independent businesses —many of which sell wares produced by hand— return a higher percentage of their revenue to their communities than the bigger chains. This means that by buying local, you are pouring money back into your local community, rather than the money heading off overseas.

    Decreasing dependence on multinationals

    Frighteningly, there are only ten companies in the world that own almost everything we buy. The same company that owns Pringles also owns Duracell, Hugo Boss and Oral B. Supporting handmade means sidestepping the global corporations, and securing our economy for the future.

    Handmade is forever

    There is a cheeky thing in the mass-market design world called ‘design obsolescence.’ This means that a product is built to fail after a certain amount of time, so the consumer will need to repurchase the product (I’m looking at you, Apple.) It is a relatively new phenomenon, which is why your nana’s Mixmaster is still going strong after 50+ years, while your new Breville broke after three years. After a few decades, this has created a culture of ‘if it’s broken, don’t fix it – just chuck it out’.

    And this is where handmade excels - there’s no need for an upgrade as it is perfect already. And the nature of handmade products means that they will literally last as long as the materials will- so think of it as a good long term investment!


    Emma Clark Gratton is the Head of Content at Creative Women's Circle, a staff writer at ArtsHub and a podcaster who, alongside her husband Lee, runs GRATTON, a timber furniture and architectural joinery company. She blogs occasionally at Worst House Best Street and posts endless photos of her sons on Instagram at @emmamakesthings.

    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on The 10 benefits of handmade
    Posted on

    How to hold an art exhibition


    By Júlia Palazzo

    I work in a studio with another artist and for the past month I’ve been helping him put together his first solo exhibition in Melbourne. I have to say I’m SO relieved that we had the opening last Friday and that all the work is nearly over! As much as having your own exhibition is an incredible experience, it can also be stressful and daunting.

    If you are early in your visual art career, you will eventually want to showcase your work in your own show. And (at least at first) you will probably show your art in artist run galleries and more alternative venues, and will be responsible for a lot of the work related to making your show succeed or fail.

    Here are 5 areas to keep in mind when creating an art exhibition:

    Paint: Go on a journey with your art

    When creating art for a show, pick a theme that you know you can explore for an entire body of work, that you are passionate and curious about. Write, think and study the concept behind it before you start creating the final art pieces. You should be able to describe the ideas behind your work concisely, and refer back to them when you feel lost.

    Know how many pieces you’ll need to create for the show, and be realistic about how long you will need to paint them. Make sure you book the venue well in advance, and try to have all the art finalised a few weeks before the opening. You don’t want to be painting until the last day available and then have no one turn up because you didn’t do any promotion.

    Choose materials that you are comfortable working with. Exploring and practicing with new mediums might be best left for when you are not under pressure to create work for a show.


    Present: Use the space creatively

    Measure the walls and choose how you’d like your art to be displayed in advance, making sure that you create enough art to achieve the result you want. Think about how people will walk around the room, and whether the order of the artwork can tell a story or take them on a journey.

    Think beyond the art. How can you transform the venue’s space to create a remarkable experience for your viewers? Can you use the scent of flowers, music, or change the colours of the walls to help people immerse themselves in the art? Attend other exhibitions in your city to get inspired. If you are in Melbourne, Backwoods Gallery in Fitzroy always does an incredible job of presenting their exhibitions in an unexpected way.

    Give people context. Did you go on a trip away or develop a new method to create this body of work? Think about how you can tell your story to people through the display, and prepare yourself to be able to talk about your art.

    Promote: Spread the word through your network

    Make sure that the design of the promotional materials and the photos of your art will do it justice. If the venue does not have a designer or photographer, consider getting one to help you.

    While you are creating the art, post sneak peeks on your social media and remind people regularly about the upcoming event. Talk to the venue about creating a Facebook event and sending out press released to relevant publications.

    If there are important people in your industry that you’d like to attend your show, do not be ashamed of inviting them directly through an e-mail or message. Ask you contacts to share the event with their peers.


    Party: Make an event of it.

    Plan an opening event to give people a chance to gather and meet you at your exhibition. Choose a date that won’t conflict with other similar events, and make the space pleasant through offering drinks and food. Many beer and wine businesses offer sponsorship and discounts for creative events.

    Consider offering an artists talk on a separate date from the opening. This will give people a chance to hear about your work, and an opportunity to meet you if they missed the opening night.

    Consider having accessible options for people besides the artwork. Not all you fans or visitors will be able to afford an original piece of art, but I guarantee a lot of them would be happy to support you and take home something from your exhibition. Maybe you can have an exhibition book, prints or postcards for sale.

    Peace: Be in a good frame of mind

    Look after yourself and your health during the process and make sure you SLEEP. Exhaustion will destroy your ability to make good art, and the last thing you want is to finally get to that opening event and be unable to enjoy it or talk to anyone because you are too sleep-deprived.

    Be kind with yourself. It is perfectly normal when you are working on a big project to have moments when you feel that you are not a “real” artist or that your work won’t be good enough. Reach out to your friends or family for reassurance, and don’t feel guilty if you have to take a few days off to relax.

    Keep the long term in mind. If you are a working artist, you will probably exhibit many times over the years, each one will be a step on your journey and a learning experience. Do not expect that one show will bring you overnight success, and do not be hard on yourself if at first you do not sell many pieces or get much of an audience. Stay positive, learn from your mistakes, and keep on creating.

    Images by Michael Panozzo 

    Júlia Palazzo is a visual artist from Brazil. Since moving to Melbourne in 2013 she has been running a partnership, Mayfield Palace, creating mural art for businesses and organisations all over Australia. She shares her art daily on Instagram: @julia.palazzo

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    Posted by: Emma Clark
    Categories: Advice and Tips, Events, Growing a Business, Starting a Business | Comments Off on How to hold an art exhibition