Re-inventing your craft

Craft artists love their creations but sometimes I think they lose the ability to view their designs and technique objectively and that often results to lack of renovation in their designs or product range. They just keep doing the same stuff year after year... Let me give you an example. I went to a recycle-craft fair today in Helsinki. I saw too many totebags and brooches but not a single laptop case or iPod case!

Laptop carriercase by Janine King Designs at Etsy. Simple but very functional design.

Re-invent your color pallette.

Color is a very important part in design and the overall presentation of the product. We all have our favorite colors and color pallettes. I spoke to one crafter today at the fair about colors and she said the best sellers for her have always been black, white, brown and red (mostly burgundy and blood red). She had some green and orange in her collection but confessed that she keeps them in the collection just because they are her favorite colors even they do not sell that well. She has made a smart move on following up on what sells and developing her collections to match that even though they might not be her favorites.

Neon colors for example are a big trend at the moment but I have seen only a few crafters using them. If you´re lacking ideas on new color combinations, color design books can be found from bookstores or you can use color palette generator sites. They are an exellent tool to finding new color combinations.

Re-invent you technique.

Finland has many artists/designers that use felt as their main material. They know their technique, but the design is often overlooked. If you want to see what I mean just google the words "huovutus kuvat". And then go to the firsts links and click on to "Kuvagalleria". The productpictures are good but unfortunately I cannot imagine anyone from my friends or family ever wearing these sort of items. Wool is a wonderful, classic and very practical material and that´s why I feel so sad for the lack of design potential in this craft-gendre.

If you do make stuff just for yourself and happen to do this kind of felt work, note that I´m not talking about you. I believe you should always be true to your personal style when doing home-crafts for yourself. I´m taking about the professional craft designers that have a brand and sell their craft goods for a living. Be aware that most consumers do not share your exact taste in style.

A good collection and product can be used by different aged and styled people. Even different genders if the design is really thought through. Always have unisex items in your collection so your customers can buy them not only for themselves but also for their friends, children and spouses.

Elegant felted plate-tablets by I Do Studios at Etsy.

Re-invent your best-seller.

When selling items a brand needs to follow fashion- and interior (micro)trends and modify the prodect range and colors accordingly to meet your customers needs. How else will craft business grow and reach new consumers! I recommend reading craft and design blogs and valued magazine publications. Don´t just make basic totebags when you can imitate this seasons designer it-bag and make it from your material of choise with your signature working techniques (leather, wood, knit, reconstructed clothing). I´d love to see someone do a Burberry Prorsum The Mason Warrior bag or Michael Kors Ranger patent bag from army surplus or secondhand leather jackets, buttons and belts.

And don´t just focus on bags. There´s hats, gloves, belts, masks, jewellry, underwear, legwarmers, skirts, tees, capes and all other fashion product categories (not to mention all interior design product categories) to keep your collection versatile! Sites like or show inspirational raports on the latest fads like this about Heroes. I´m sure designer inspired pieces pay better anyway especially if they are made as numbered limited edition products or one season collections. Or even more exclusive.. "made by order".

Forget modesty and aim high. If you can´t imagine your product in a Vogue/ID styled fashion editorial or a respected interior publication, maybe the design still needs some work. Be a renessance crafter.

Outi Les Pyy

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