The Return to Craft

We’re seeing a widespread reaction to our otherwise digital lives through maker culture. This culture celebrates artisan skills, the personal creative output of one or a small collaborative group that embodies a resistance to the soulless mass production and digital copies rampant in modern life. Consumers of craft fetish the one-off and the homemade. In many ways, this movement has been fed by disgust with hyper-consumerism and nostalgia born of anxious times. Solo artisans evoke anti-corporate sentiments and entrepreneurial virtues through their work and brand. They can achieve a direct consumer relationship far more personal than when buying a product from a company run by 40,000 employees. And a new wave of technology has empowered crafters to hone their skills, produce functional work, and compete for better quality than the big boys. Technology enables us to re-imagine and modernize old-fashioned ideals. And now, with the help of platforms like Etsy and Kickstarter, the niche and the homemade are now becoming mainstream. Or, at the very least, surrounding us everywhere.

Far more than a mass movement in consumerism, I sincerely believe we’re experiencing the long dawn of a new moral age. People are growing fed up with modern complexity, bureaucratization, and resulting moral ambiguities abound in the modern world. Our rampant depression due largely in part to the isolation brought on by our digital lives pushes us deeper into a state of longing. We yearn for clarity, truth, and structure. Where at one point faith (with a capital F) served this purpose, humans grow evermore wary of the divides created by religion and turn the other way. As fun as it is to debate them, deep down we genuinely do want to agree on rights and wrongs so that we can strengthen and rally our communities around those ideals. We have global problems to solve and will need far less daily tussle to face them together. Historically, the trend towards societal simplification resulted in collapses of democracy in favor of far more seemingly tangible dictatorships. Fortunately, we have the texts of history at our disposal to diagnose and the power of global networks to dispel any usurpations. I count myself among the more optimistic along these lines. Our institutions as we know them today may need total overhauls or collapse entirely, but take comfort by accepting that shedding has always been a part of the process.

Humans are due for a revolution. Those artisans driving maker culture serve on the front lines. Keep up the noble work, my friends.