The hardest part of being a working artisan is the unpleasant realization and absolute necessity that one must at some point market oneself. It tends to go against the grain of any self respecting artist to have to self promote, especially if one has been brought up in England as I was. (with Richard Branson being the exception) Surely this is why galleries exist, to remove this odious discomfort. However, finding a gallery to represent you isn’t always very easy, and thinking that one’s work will find an appreciative audience anyway is dreaming. No, if one is serious about developing any kind of a career in the arts, today one has to be braver and face up to the fact we as artists have to step up. Its as simple as that. The level and degree to which one does this of course is a personal choice, but it is a fact of life for all artists, whether you are a writer, painter, singer or sculptor. In today’s world artist’s have to be self-promotional, for fear of disappearing among the myriad of other artist’s who are equally trying to find their audience.
Once one has accepted this fact, then he or she must also acknowledge that having a healthy degree of entrepreneurship, savvy computer and communication skills, as well as being a creative artist and craftsman capable of executing works in a timely fashion are now all part of the equation. So when I was approached by Artisan Ontario recently, I was most impressed by the professional and incredibly valuable directory they are developing to promote Ontario Artisans. This resource provides artisans and craftsman from across the Province of Ontario with an incredible opportunity to expose and share their work globally and is especially valuable for emerging young artisans who may not have their own web sites.
Dan Taylor and his partner Susan Hess created Artisan Ontario as a place for the public to connect with Ontario’s top artisans and for artisans to connect with each other. They are strong advocates of fine craftsmanship and of “slow making”. Susan studied architecture and has a wonderful sense of proportion, scale and design. She takes the helm when it comes to the website. Dan is an industrial designer who developed an interest in silversmithing over ten years ago. He works primarily in gold and silver to make massive handmade chains, pendants and other pieces. However, its very evident that both of them bring decades of entrepreneurial experience and spirit to the arts, and are committed in their vision.
One of the most compelling aspects of any hand crafted work of art is knowing that a particular artisan has painstakingly spent hours creating it often using techniques which have not changed in over a 1000 years. In a world where technology and computers rule, the very idea of owning a special work made by hand will only increase in value. It seems inevitable that those masters who are trained in hand-made crafts, may well end up becoming as rare as any endangered wildlife species with the potential that the value of their art piece may well increase. An appreciative audience is already recognizing the inherent value and importance of owning beautifully designed hand-made works both to stimulate and enhance their home and office environments.
Dan Taylor, Co-Founder, Artisan Ontario commented ” I believe in the value of things made with good tools in skilled hands, using quality materials, and with thoughtful consideration of it’s use for the client. Artisan Ontario is about helping artisans. That said, it isn’t a not-for-profit, nor was it created to generate big profits. Artisan Ontario is not beholden to the government or other sponsors in order to exist. This is our own effort and it will only be as successful as the artisans who sign-up.”
Although similar funded organizations such as Craft Ontario have been existence since 1976, Artisan Ontario provides free on-line exposure to artists through the www.artisanontario.ca web site, and are now looking at other ways to support Ontario based artists with proposed exhibitions based upon a specific medium. Dan Taylor and Susan Hess are a visionary couple who felt there was a black hole in the Ontario arts marketplace, and a real need to expose both established and emerging artisans at no cost. By building the Artisan Ontario Directory membership they believe strongly that they can better support all artisans.
“It is my belief that together we can accomplish more – together we are a “demographic” and as such we can influence policies and we can provide ourselves with the support we need to build the artisanal economy in Ontario. There are so many things we can do as a “demographic” that we cannot do individually” suggests Susan Hess.
Considering how many artisans there must be in Ontario who could do with greater public attention, Dan and Susan are providing an invaluable service and should be congratulated for their efforts. In time they would like to attract glass, metal, wood and other material suppliers as on-line sponsors, and to assist in supporting some of their other plans for Artisan Ontario.
If you know of an Ontario Artisan who you think should be recognized and could also benefit from the exposure provided on www.artisanontario.ca web site, please contact Susan Hess directly at firstname.lastname@example.org