If you’ve ever bought a scarf on Etsy, sold a shirt on Supermarket HQ, or set up shop at a local craft fair, then you are part of what Faythe Levine and Cortney Heimerl would call our handmade nation.
And so are they. The crafty duo is behind the book Handmade Nation: The Rise of DIY, Art, Craft, and Design
(and, for Levine, a documentary of the same name to be released in 2009). After travelling the country in search of the ultimate neo-Martha Stewarts, they chatted with NYLON about what it takes to become a master crafter.What surprised you most when traveling the country doing research for the book and movie?
FL: It was amazing to see everyone’s different methods and abilities to make time for their creative drive and passion. Everyone had to figure out their own recipe for a balancing act: work, play, home, kids, pets, art, craft...
CH: I was really surprised by the public's reaction. To a certain extent, it feels like everyone I meet has a story about what they make or what their mothers or fathers or grandmothers make. People get really excited to tell us about it. It made me realize what an extensive reach handmade has, and that is inspiring. As the craft movement gets bigger and things like corporate sponsorship of craft fairs becomes more prevalent, is there a risk that it loses some of its DIY edge?
FL: I think as the movement grows and shifts, there is always the risk of the community losing some of its "underground" edge, however, there’s always going to be new makers emerging and creating work that hasn't been co-opted by corporations. Those who are interested in keeping it real will continue to do so. I'm not worried about it—DIY is a lifestyle, not a brand, and no company can take that away. For someone who lives in a small town without a local craft fair, what are some of your favorite sites for finding cool indie goods?
FL: My favorites are designformankind.com
, and myloveforyou.typepad.com
CH: I’m actually from a town of about 8,000 people. There are niches that you find everywhere. In Portage, WI, where I’m from, hot spots are the farmer's market and shops that do consignment, where you can find hot little handmade products alongside mass-produced goods. If all else fails, just go to Etsy
. Shopping on the web is definitely addicting, but well worth it when you are feeling like exploring some new territories. What's the best way to start up a craft business and get your name out there?
FL: I think having an internet presence is the most important thing one can do to. Social networking sites like Flickr
, and MySpace
are great as well. Start a webshop, either on your own site or using a site like Etsy
to host your shop. Having a blog and linking everything back to one another is the best way to get people familiar with you and your work.
Also, by creating a name and a logo that is consistent with all your account people become familiar with your online presence, especially as you comment and participate on other peoples’ work. Keep your vision and your uniqueness upfront and continue to update and keep your accounts fresh!What's the most important aspect of this country's handmade nation?
CH: It sets an example that can inspire people to do it themselves. We can create our own culture—one that stands against mass-produced consumerism. We can stimulate the local economy, we can support the arts, we can create things that have never existed and feel lucky that we can scrape together a living out of it.
REBECCA WILLA DAVIS$24.95 at www.powells.com