Recently Beached Librarian asked ‘Are DIY posts bad for creativity ?‘ A sticky subject, especially since one might argue that the difference between following a pattern and creating something from scratch as you go, is the difference between having ‘a hobby’ and being ‘an artist’. There is a place for both approaches, after all where does the artist learn their skill if not by learning from instructions in the first place? An old adage in art says you need to know the rules before you can break them, but your mileage may vary.
As a craft entrepreneur what worried me most about the proliferation of DIY blog posts was their ability to devalue professional crafter’s work. Free patterns saturate the web, encouraging wider the public to deem hand-made goods by skilled creators as worth less financially by making crafts appear cheap, cheerful and easily done. Tutorials encourage people to think ‘I could do that myself’, wonderful, until the logical end of that thought is ‘I can make that myself -why would I pay a trained artist or crafts person for it?’ In truth, perhaps you could make it yourself, but without investing the time, skill and inclination you never will. And that’s what we are paying Designer Makers and Artists for, their time, their skill, their desire to make the pretty things so we don’t have to.
The idea among hobby crafters that patterns and designs are free and don’t belong to anyone is especially irksome. It’s true that craft techniques are universal, you can’t copy-write how to knit or sew. But imagine you have created something with your own little spin, it’s something you sell and hope to make a living from but others demand you share your recipe, your techniques, your pattern that you developed. These kinds ‘how to’s’, essentially strip designer makers of any special little quirks that make their art unique. Many creators resort to selling their souls in the form of instruction tutorials to supplement income after finding no-one wants to buy their hand crafted product, but ‘hobby crafters’ out there still want to know how you did it.
The only profiteers from this version of craft industry are the craft supplies manufacturers and the marketers like magazines and websites. Artists/Designers/Makers come away empty-handed. The art that they make takes more than materials and instructions, it takes time, skill and accumulated experience. These things are devalued when you give away your techniques for free.
So in response to Anne’s original question, Are DIY blog posts bad for creativity? Maybe they are great for creativity because they give you a jumping off point and they tell you how to make something. I postulate that the real question is ‘Are free DIY posts bad for Craft professionals?’ Do they devalue the work of artists and crafts people, making it harder for them to make a living?
What do you think ? Are DIY tutorials a good thing or not? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below: