Native crafts date back thousands of years. Anything that endures for so long has to adapt with the times to survive. But adapting is hard when tradition is your main selling point. Luckily, traditional arts and crafts forms from around the world are enduring thanks to one of the planet’s most revolutionary technologies: the internet.
The internet, and social media in particular, is crucial to traditional crafts’ current day survival, whether it is down to those making, selling or appreciating the artworks. Here’s how.
Social media users love doing it for themselves
Any social media platform with an image-based element is likely to be populated by various pictures of homemade crafts. Instagram, for instance, is full of DIY-based accounts such as All Things Thrifty, Studio DIY and The DIY Junkie that showcase various homemade creations, usually from simple materials like paper and cardboard, that get thousands of likes for every post.
Over on Pinterest, the interest in homemade crafts is even stronger. ‘Arts and Crafts’ is the second most popular topic on the rapidly-growing platform, with over one in ten posts being categorised as such.
With this much interest in crafts in general, it is no surprise that advocates and retailers of traditional crafts are taking advantage of these trends. Japan Craft, for instance, has created videos with instructions on making traditional Japanese crafts such as the folding fan or puzzle box.
Videos like these are hugely popular online as they allow crafts fans to learn new tricks and skills, which is always something this particular audience of social media users is keen to do. But video instructions for traditional arts and crafts offer something that most posts from DIY Junkie or All Things Thrifty cannot: authenticity.
Traditional arts and crafts are authentic
The ‘struggle’ to be authentic on social media, particularly for millennials, is a well-documented phenomenon. For many, social media is all about authenticity. Unlike the generations before them, millennials prioritise shareable experiences over riches, and building an authentic Japanese fan is certainly a shareable experience.
Owning something traditional is actually just as ‘shareable’ as making it. The tag ‘#folkart’ is hugely popular on Instagram, with users posting pictures of the art they have made, bought or found with equally positive results.
Navajo folk art retailers Foutztrade have taken advantage of this love of authenticity by including the name and a photo of whoever created each of the artworks they sell. Indian handicrafts seller Chokhi have also found success on social media, with a thriving Pinterest profile, and hundreds of thousands of fans following them on their Facebook page.
Social media generates feedback
Really, this is an advantage of social media that benefits any retailer, but it is especially valuable for craftspeople. As various makers of expensive crafts told The Design Trust, a social media presence is invaluable to their careers, not least because of the positive feedback they can generate and share to attract other potential customers.
As Karen Nairstone of British by Design said: “Using social media in this way enables potential customers to see positive comments from others about your work, thus reinforcing quality.”
With these advantages, traditional crafts will continue to thrive, through amateur artists making it themselves, and through professional craftspeople bringing in more custom.