irreverent, thought-provoking analysis of the industry.
Debate: Should We Junk "Crafts"?
What's a better word to describe what we are?.
by Sandra Kay & Mike Hartnett (May,
Note: Sandra Kay of Magtime Frames responded to the
previous Business-Wise column, "Gay Marriages, Craft Designers,
and Retail Prices." If you haven't read it yet, you can read it
HERE. While the title may not sound like it, the column's main point
was dealing with the problems with the word, "crafts."
What follows is Sandra's response to the column, and Mike's response
People do not (whether it fits or not) like to be referred to as
"crafty" or as "crafters." Exactly as you
stated, the connotation is that of rainy day crafts which are made
for the sole purpose of killing some time, and after a very brief
obligatory shelf life, end up in the garbage.
Although I have worn my "Crafts. Discover Life's Little
Pleasures" button for guest appearances on tv and during my
demos and workshops, I was surprised (okay, disappointed) by the
slogan. It seems so unfortunately out-dated. Since they have already
decided on it, committed to it, and started promoting it, I will go
with the flow - but secretly hope to be invited as a guest for
future discussions on the slogan.
Nor do people feel comfortable being referred to as
"artists" unless, in fact, they are artists: paid,
trained, educated, creative, talented, unique individuals who have
already made a name for themselves and actually sell their
Using specific nouns such as "scrapbooker," "stamper,"
"quilter," etc., seems acceptable, but a) they
automatically exclude other creative hobbies/passions/skills; b) the
curious and novices don't feel qualified/included; and c) they're
just far too limiting.
Here is my solution: use "creative" as a noun. Whether
you sew, scrapbook, paper craft, knit, stamp, paint, write, design,
dance, garden, teach or coach, you are being "creative."
Everyone seems to love the word.
People of all ages appear complimented when referred to as
creative, and even better, people of all skill and talent levels
feel qualified and included. Based on my experiences and
observations with the word, sometime in 2003 I began referring to my
customers, teachers, and workshop participants as "Creatives":
"I'd like to welcome all the beautiful Creatives and say
"Oh, yes, you are definitely a Creative!"
"One more hand-made card like that and we'll have to call
you a true Creative"
It is time for "craft" to join "stewardess,"
"janitor," and "handicapped" up there in English
Language heaven. With respect and understanding, a new generation of
creative people await a new generation of labels and names. –
Sandra Kay, MagTimeFrames, www.MagTimeFrames.com
No question about it, "creative" does not have the
sometimes negative connotations of "crafts." However, I
see two problems:
1. "Creative" is too broad. We need a term that
encompasses crafters, knitters, scrappers, painters, stitchers,
etc., but sets them apart from photographers, surgeons, and football
2. You can't just make up a new use for a word, or a new
definition, and expect it to be used that way by the general
population. For a long time, you would be incorrect.
The general rule of an evolving language is that, once a word or
definition becomes part of the general usage, then it's
"correct." Until then, it isn't.
For example, my father was a life-long journalist who taught me
it was incorrect to write "the attendance was over 4,000."
"Over" would be used for phrases such as "over the
hill," not in conjunction with numbers. The correct term would
be, "the attendance was more than 4,000."
Dad was correct, once. Now, everyone uses "over 4,000,"
and so it's now ok.
If we all used "creative" as a noun, and somehow used
it only to refer to people in our industry, eventually it might
spread and become correct.
The only problem with that, however, is that our industry keeps
changing, just like the language does. Fifteen years ago,
scrapbooking or stamping wouldn't have been considered a
Maybe we should just accept that no word will ever do exactly
what we want it to, and be thankful that we work in a constantly
Have any thoughts on the subject? Email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandra's email is email@example.com.
Previous Business-Wise columns are accessible by clicking on the
title in the right-hand column.