Craftivism

Published on November 18th, 2008 | by Autumn Wiggins

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Kindling for Art Fire

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I’ve spent the better part of an hour exploring a promising new website called Art Fire which, in no uncertain terms, has set out to compete with Etsy. There is a familiar layout…categories to your left, a showcase of listed items in the center, and a featured seller near the bottom. Additionally, they are cataloging tutorials, have an entire section dedicated to supplies, an array of features for artist interaction and even digital badges to recognize accomplishments by members. With a basic account, you can list and sell without fees or commission. Their current price for a verified account, which lets you fully customize your profile/shop and participate in the online community, is $7 a month.

Most notable in our neck of the woods, is their partnership with Trees for the Future, a non-profit that is helping in reforestation efforts around the world. Art Fire will have a tree planted for every new member that signs up.

This is awesome, don’t get me wrong.  But I’m not going to endorse a website when it appears to over publicize it’s involvement in a relatively hands-off environmental effort. These programs have popped up on Twitter and Facebook as the effortless donation of ad revenue. Click your mouse, and plant a tree. It’s a wonderful idea, but Art Fire romanticises the impact. Case in point: 

“Your click is like a small stone in a large ocean.  The ripples of what you do here today will stretch hundreds of years and affect thousands of lives. All with the power of your click, and your awareness, nothing more is ever expected from you!”

Based on the prominence of green themed magazine ads, graphics, and links to this static information page filled with paragraphs of warm fuzzy optimism, I am expecting more from you, Art Fire. This is an honest suggestion, you’re still in beta.

Also, who are “over 25 of the internet’s premier suppliers and importers of craft and art products” that “provide and sponsor” the site? Just askin’!

 


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About the Author

This 2008 interview pretty much sums it up: 1. How would you describe yourself? An oddly situated performer of thought experiments 2. Do you have any anecdotes about your work (how you got started, frustrating moments, or funny stories)? At this year's Maker Faire in San Mateo, I gave a presentation on how the trend of green crafting can ultimately address the problem of consumption and waste. Dale Dougherty,the publisher of Make and Craft, later had a gift delivered to me, a staple bound book of poetry: Music Like Dirt by Frank Bidart. This is the last thing one would expect to take home from an event so focused on renegade technology. To my surprise, it was an existential reflection on the human need to make things that I now find myself going back to whenever I need some inspiration to look beyond the materials and processes of crafting. 3. What kinds of things do you do for fun? In my spare time I enjoy amateur astronomy, outdoor adventures, collecting domain names, and hanging out at coffee shops. 4. What interesting projects are you working on right now? I'm working to organize community involvement in upcycling, and have a few top-secret website projects up my sleeves! 5. Where do you live? Kids, pets, spouse, occupation? O'Fallon, IL, a suburb (and I mean a totally typical suburb) of St. Louis, MO. Rather than moving to the more culture friendly urban environment, I am staying put and annoying the heck out of Wal-Mart by throwing a massive indie craft show(Strange Folk) in their backyard. I have a husband, Doug, and two sons: a 7 year old mad scientist named Jack, and 6 year old Max, who we think is an aspiring tattoo artist since he's so fond of drawing all over himself with markers. To pay the bills, I do freelance writing, mural painting, and website design, sell my handmade crafts, teach art classes for kids, and work part -time at a local coffee shop. 6. What new idea (in or outside of your field) has excited you most recently? The concept known as "Cradle-to-Cradle" is a blueprint for sustainability that states everything we manufacture should be either biodegrable, infinitely recyclable, or intended to be upcycled. This is the basis for many of my ideas of how the crafting community can be more widely involved in solving the environmental crisis. 7. What is your favorite food/color/tool? granola/green/sewing machine!



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