Handmade Arts and Crafts In a Consumer Society

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, most objects that people bought had changed little over the centuries and were handmade by skilled artists and artisans. During the twentieth century, the disposable income of middle class and working class people increased and there was a huge growth in consumerism, as businesses worked to both meet and create demand for a growing range of goods and services. Shopping districts, with stores offering a wide variety of items sourced from around the world appeared in towns and cities, making it more convenient for people to find what they wanted. Vast shopping centres began to appear in locations outside of the major towns and cities, making it possible for people to view and try items that they might have previously only have seen in advertisements. Consumers could window shop in stores selling expensive brands and buy more affordable products in less expensive stores. This variety enabled people to develop a taste for new things, expand their mental horizons and aspire to material success.
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Improving Communication and Creativity Through Art and Craft Based Learning

As they try to compete in a global economy, businesses are under pressure to develop innovative products and services, that will result in increased success and growing profitability. Many businesses are recognising the value of handmade arts and crafts training as a way of improving communication and developing key skills, such as creativity, problem solving and leadership. Artists seek to look beyond the world as others currently perceive it, in order to find new ways of expressing ideas, thoughts and feelings. The purpose of arts based training is not to teach people how to become an artist or artisan, but rather to help them apply some of the artists skills in their work. This could involve teams of people collaborating on the making of a piece of art or craft, music, storytelling or theatre, that draws upon imagination and real world experiences. Encouraging people to think beyond the normal limitations of their job title and role, can inspire new ideas and allow them to find innovative solutions, that might not otherwise have occurred to them.
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Becoming More Creative In Your Life and Work

Creativity often involves going against conventional forms of thinking and behaviour, as was the case for example with the artists during previous centuries who formed movements that changed the way that art represents the world. Although these people were often criticised for being unconventional and risked being rejected by wider society, if their work was deemed to be of sufficient quality and originality it was eventually celebrated. The concept of the brilliant but eccentric artist or scientist, who rather than following mainstream thinking develops new ideas and inventions, is perhaps comparable to the shaman in older societies. Such men and women would go on a vision quest or journey of discovery and bring back wisdom that would benefit other members of their tribe. When we look at the Arts and Crafts Movement, this willingness to break established social and creative rules, in order to improve society, was reflected in the new ways of doing things that evolved in art, craft and architecture.
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Minimalism and Decluttering Your Life

Minimalism is a movement in the creative arts, where a piece of work is reduced to its essential elements. It is also a way of living, in which you only own things because you need them or they improve your quality of life. Most of us own many things that we do not need and that do not add to our quality of life. We spent time earning the money to pay for them and might also pay for maintenance or storage. William Morris stated that everything we owned should be either useful or beautiful, a concept promoted by minimalism. For people who survive on a very low income, minimalism is not a lifestyle choice, but a necessity, as they can only afford to buy the basic essentials. However, minimalism could improve your life if you are spending money on products and services that you want, rather than need. Only buying things that you will use and not replacing things unless they cannot be repaired means less waste, which is good both for the individual and the environment.
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Good Design and Why Simple Is Difficult

Design is the organisation of elements with a defined purpose and can be found all around us in the products and services that we use each day. The quality of that design can vary greatly, but typical objectives of design include making something easier to use, better performing and more appealing to consumers, so that they will choose to buy from you rather than your competitors. Many factors will influence design decisions, such as required functionality, available resources, the target audience and brand identity. However we live in a world that is saturated with information and a huge variety of products, making it difficult for any one thing to attract our attention. Good design aims to achieve this and provide a positive user experience for those using a product or service, to increase sales and market share.
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Why Projects Fail and How To Save Them

As an artist, craft maker or designer you might at some point take on a commission, which could involve you working alone or as part of a team. Typical measures for success in any project include; being on time, being on budget and satisfying customer expectations. However many projects fail to achieve all of these measures of success and often they achieve none of them. In most cases, this does not mean that the project will not be delivered, unless things go very badly wrong, but rather that it will not meet the objectives detailed within the initial project plan. This can leave a client unhappy with the work that they have paid for and therefore less likely to become a repeat customer, or recommend you to other people. The individual or team responsible for the work can be left feeling demotivated and with a sense of failure, even though they might believe that they have worked to the full extent of their capabilities. Continue reading