I get all caught up in how a piece is made and think it is so
wonderful but the person who buys it isn't so interested, I think
they see a design they like and don't really care how it's made.
The “cult” of the handmade was a much bigger deal fifty or a hundred
years ago, as a reaction against the ugly side of the Industrial
Revolution. But in the marketplace of material things, the product is
tangible and the intangible value includes such things as
emotional/sentimental appeal, reputation of the maker, perceived
status that the object implies.
“Handmade” is, in the mind of the customer, less real than it is to
the people who actually do the making. Unless you make a retail
presentation of how it is made, chances are that today’s customer is
not especially interested.
I do pioneer technique, that is very important to me as a
craftsman/artist and I assume at some point after I'm dead someone
will notice and wonder how I made a certain piece and put it in a
museum but that may just be hubris on my part.
I used to do a lot of technically challenging mokume and married
Lots of interest from other metalsmiths at shows and I tended to
have customers that were impressed by the difficulty of the
technique. One time I sold one of my best pieces at a show. It was an
impossibly difficult married metal bowl. After the deal was done and
the bowl paid for, the customer started asking how it was made and
revealed by his questions that he hadn’t a clue. After the customer
left, a spectator, maybe another craftsman, I don’t remember, who was
lurking nearby and witnessed the sale and conversation told me how
horrified he was that this guy would buy such an impressive piece
with such ignorance and indifference to the struggle that went into
making it. Reflecting on that, I prefer to think that making the sale
to someone who didn’t especially care about the techniques validated
the effort that went into it. He was buying the result, not the
process. I think that way to often, those of us who are into the
process, in our vanity, expect the audience to be as impressed with
us as we are with ourselves.
Most of us on Orchid are very into technique and craftsmanship. I
certainly am. Nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to
marketing it is a mistake to try to appeal to interests and desires
that you imagine your customers have, but they don’t really care that
much about. Some customers are curious. Some are genuinely
interested. You can make your craftsmanship part of your marketing
image. But at the end of the day you had better be making something
that was worth the effort of making by hand.