• your guide to buying handmade: 5 things you should never say to a creative

    your guide to buying handmade

    There is a certain handmade / designer etiquette that should not have to be discussed, yet, time after time I find myself shaking my head at the comments on Instagram and Facebook below a photo of someone’s beautiful work. Someone who is trying to make a living off selling their work. It’s as though it’s eluded the commenter that they are saying these things in full ear/eye shot of the person whose work they’re commenting on.

    You’re at an indie market. You’re there to buy handmade. Your friend turns to you and makes a smug remark about someone’s work, right in front of their stall. Dude, that’s totally not cool. You respond with a nervous laugh because you feel uncomfortable and awkward about their comment, but really don’t know how to respond.

    So rather than sit on the sidelines and watch these things happen any longer, I wanted to address some of the statements in a bid to educate the less-knowledable humans of our society. Hopefully you can find something in here to use as ammunition the next time someone makes one of these comments directly to you or even about your work.

    “What type of {insert material} do you use and where do you get it from”
    No. I’m sorry, but no. If their is a genuine interest in the types of materials or processes that are used in the making of an item, that’s ok. But when someone blatantly ask about step by step processes / curing times / best glue to use / how to get it looking so straight / precise techniques / supplier names, then they should know that it’s basically signalling to the maker that they love their item so much however rather than buy it and reward them for their time and efforts, the offender just wants their cheat-sheet on how to make said item yourself. Not cool, nor is it respectful to their art.

    “I / you could make that / those”
    This phrase is even worse when it’s followed by “and sell them too”. Yes, the item is handmade. Yes, YOU could probably make it too. But, YOU didn’t come up with the concept, so why would you go and rip someone off because you can “make it too”. How about, you come up with a great idea and then you will have a point of difference, your own unique idea and then your own piece of the proverbial pie. Not a taste of someone else’s. Ripping off someone’s idea is not being creative. It’s being a copycat and there’s already enough of “me too’s” out there. Creatives work hard at developing their concepts/techniques/materials and really the last thing they need is someone swooping in to copy their idea.

    “That’s too expensive”
    Creatives beat themselves up about pricing more than anyone could ever comprehend. They pour their hearts and souls into their work. They painstakingly come up with new / unique / creative concepts. They test their designs. They spend countless hours perfecting their workmanship. They agonise over how much to pay themselves. What you probably don’t know is that they rarely walk away with a fair hourly rate. So, please don’t demoralise their work even further by muttering that the thing you’re holding in your hand, that thing which took them half a day to make, using the finest materials that were carefully sourced, is too expensive. It’s a total cop-out and makes that person second-guess their decision to ever share their beautiful, creative work with others.

    “Look, it’s another {insert trend icon such as pineapple} cushion/tea towel/card/brooch”
    Creatives know (probably better than anyone else) that often there can be an influx of trend items (think pineapples, owls and polymer bead necklaces) and yes, they’re sometimes a little over them too. But you know what? There are a percentage of retail buyers who adore these items. Maybe they were late adopters of said trend, or maybe they genuinely want to kit out their home with pineapple paraphernalia incorporated into as many decorative items and soft furnishings as humanly possible. And that’s ok. Because at the end of the day, not everything that creatives make + sell is for everyone. There is a market (so it would seem) for almost anything, so if you see “another blah blah blah” unless you have something positive to say about it, please keep it to yourself, or out of earshot of the maker.

    “Who would buy that {insert laugh}?”
    Possibly the most insulting comment that could ever be made about someone’s creative work. Clearly the person making the comment has little to no respect for anyone else. I’m not clear as to why a person would feel it necessary to belittle a product that has been painstakingly handmade and sent into the world for others to admire and covet. As mentioned in an earlier point, there is a market for almost anything. If the item does not meet your liking, then it’s simple – MOVE ALONG.

    And lastly, just some things to remember:

    • Creative beings are human too. They are not immune to criticism and most of the time are already their own worst critics. They definitely don’t need a strangers help in that department.
    • Giving genuine constructive feedback is great, but make sure there is something the maker can take away from it to help improve/expand their products.
    • By purchasing from a maker you are providing them with the opportunity to do what they are passionate about/helping them pay the bills/giving them hope for a flourishing creative career/cutting out the middle-man.
    • It takes a lot of guts for someone to put their work out there. It is a reflection of who they are as a person. Be supportive.

5 Responsesso far.

  1. Sam says:

    Yes to everything! Thank you!

  2. Denise Stacchino says:

    Oh so true! My hubby just turns away very pointedly1

  3. Jenna says:

    This is great, and all so true!

  4. Natalie says:

    Agree 100%. I have had all 5 thrown at me on more than one occasion ?

  5. Thank you for getting the message out for us makers! Can I add that after saying “I could make that”, please do NOT take out your smartphone and start photographing the items so you can make knock-offs.