Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Craft Dilemma

That's me, many moons ago, with another of my former creative pursuits
Recently another designer/maker and I briefly discussed the concept of craft as a hobby versus craft as a business. And it got me thinking.

This conundrum must be as old as post-industrialisation, and especially post the mod cons of the 20th century that have made life easier, so giving us the age of leisure and time to actually pursue a hobby.

Over the years I have had many of these so-called “hobbies”. I prefer to call them creative pursuits. Whilst I was working in a corporate office environment my weeknight and weekend pursuits provided me with a much needed creative balance against the blandness of my 9 to 5 job.

When my daily work also eventually became my creative work, in my downtime I took up Taekwondo - what I consider could also be called a hobby, but some would call strictly a sport. Much like my creative urges, if I don’t get the opportunity to practice my sport/hobby I get a bit tetchy and short tempered. And that’s not just because I feel the urge to belt something (not someone) really hard. It’s more about the good vibe I get from exercising, changing my environment, putting on my uniform, tying my belt, and the satisfaction of working really hard, sweating and performing well.

In parallel to this dilemma of craft hobby versus craft business, I recall listening to a presenter at a business coaching seminar a few years back. The presenter posed the question “Who has someone available right now to answer the phone or deal with a customer (while they are attending this seminar)?” Being a sole practitioner, running my own interior design practice, I had to answer “NOT ME!” I was a little insulted by his next statement, which was something along the lines of “those who said ‘no’ don’t have a business; they are merely earning a wage…..”

This begs any number of questions, what is a hobby, what is a business, what is a sport and what is earning a wage? Are they not what YOU make of them? Anyone can tell you what they think you are doing, or not doing. But that can’t take away from the satisfaction you get from doing something you are passionate about.

So go forth and create – whatever the outcome. It’s the process that counts. And if it so happens that you make something beautiful that others enjoy AND you can sell it and make a (somewhat reasonable) living from it, then that’s great too!

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