According to DigoPaul, crafts are called both work and creations made by artisans (a person who does manual labor). It is a type of art in which one works primarily with the hands, molding various objects for commercial or merely artistic or creative purposes. One of the key features of this work is taking place without the help of machines or automated processes. This makes each craft work a unique and incomparable object, which gives it an extremely special character.
Some examples where the term appears are: “When we toured the north, I bought several typical handicrafts”, “My aunt gave me an aboriginal handicraft to decorate my new house”, “Most of the local population lives on handicrafts”.
In opposition to industrial or serial productions, a craft is defined as a meticulous and detailed work where each object is unique and must receive special attention. To carry out this work, the artisans put into practice various manual techniques learned and developed over time.
Within the cultural background of a town and its traditional culture, crafts occupy an important place. So much so that the origins of this type of manual work go back to times before the rise of the industrial era. Thousands of years ago, crafts already existed and were developed with various materials. In each place, taking into account the possibilities of the environment, the type of crafts that were manufactured varied: according to the raw material that each space offered.
It is important to note that the crafts can have an aesthetic (for example, a decorative painting), ritual (a mask) or functional (a container to put water) purpose. At this point it differs sharply from industrial work since the combination of design and art is pursued in the creation of each object.
Marketing and competition
As we have already said, artisanal work requires a lot of dedication because each piece is developed manually; therefore, a large number of objects cannot be made at one time. This makes it difficult to market these products in large stores and commercial chains and forces artisans to find other means of dissemination and marketing.
The commercialization of handicrafts is usually carried out directly (from the artisan to the buyer) or through small markets or cooperatives.
On the other hand, these products must compete with industrial products, which often have similar characteristics, in an attempt to imitate the unique properties of handicrafts. And here appears a latent problem for artisans: not only is the level of production in the industry higher in quantity, it is also cheaper.
In the industrial world, series production allows low production costs, resulting in cheaper final prices. Aside from the fact that the raw material used by the industry is usually of lower quality, these problems appear as important obstacles for all those who try to sell handicrafts and make a living from said business. For all this, sometimes, artisans must resort to greater versatility; for example, to develop different types of products to offer a greater variety and thereby attract potential customers in different commercial fields.
Notwithstanding the problems that competition may entail for manual work, it is important to mention that the products themselves have no comparison: the crafts have a quality that makes them unique (thanks to having been developed with special attention one by one) while industrial products are only dozens of identical objects that lack soul and that have not been thought of as an artistic object.