The Handmade Essay

Submitted By LouiseSchoenrock
Words: 2713
Pages: 11

dDespite the ubiquity of digital platforms there is a huge renewal of interest in the qualities of the handmade, crafted objects, in book arts, analogue systems of print, photography and film. This could be dismissed as nostalgia for obsolete forms, or hailed as a search for more individual, authentic or affective means of communication. Tactile surfaces, the re discovery of materials and techniques with established histories, non-identical forms and the potential of human error, all these present the designer with opportunities the digital may not.
Debate these issues using at least 3 examples of contemporary design work. Evaluate the use of the hand made in each and discuss its ability to communicate meaning.

Early on in the Industrial Revolution the increase in technology meant an increase of manufactured products. Good artistic design was less appreciated because it was deemed more important to cut down the costs than to have beautiful design. The Arts and Crafts movement began when a group of artists, including William Morris who pioneered the movement, reacted against machine-made products and wanted to recapture the beauty and quality of medieval craftsmanship. There are many reasons why the handmade is still regarded today; in particular, with its ability to communicate personal nostalgic emotion to an audience. Contemporary designers use a mixture of high and low technologies, from using letterpress to filming and editing a video in order to successfully communicate meaning, however designers today searching for more effective methods of communication have turned to the handmade to offer art that is more individual to the audience. The three examples of the handmade I will be evaluating to discuss their ability to communicate meaning are, Martin Creed’s installation, Work No. 370: Balls, Lucinda Schreiber and Yanni Kronenburg’s Autumn Story music video and Craig Atkinson’s Grab the Uranium book.


Fig. 1 Martin Creed’s Work No. 370: Balls, 2004 Born in 1968, English artist Martin Creed works with paper, music, air, light and text to create his handmade work. Creed has numbered each piece of work in relation to its substance. “The only thing I feel like I know is that I want to make things. Other than that, I feel like I don’t know. So the problem is in trying to make something without knowing what I want. [...] I think it’s all to do with wanting to communicate. I mean, I think I want to make things because I want to communicate with people, because I want to be loved, because I want to express myself” (KerriMackay Wordpress, 2008) This quotation from Creed suggests his motivation for creating handmade art is to satisfy his need to communicate meaning to an audience as well as expressing himself. Although the majority of his work may seem abstract, he shows thoughtfulness by only wishing to create work that his audience will appreciate. Creed’s work No. 370: Balls, shown in Fig. 1 contains over a thousand different balls, all a different size, colour, shape and weight with all different functions. The balls are placed in specific areas on the ground suggesting there could be a significant importance between the spaces of each ball. The balls instantly display a childlike setting of a playground without any children, which is Creed’s hope that the audience can relate to one of the many balls, and by doing so, recounting their own childhood and connecting this pleasant emotion to the installation. The balls Creed implements in his installation could not be considered an obsolete form as they are still widely used today;


however they do generally become more obsolete the older you get as there are more responsibilities in life and less time for fun and games. It is human nature to yearn for the simple pleasures of childhood, which makes Creed’s installation very successful in connecting with the audience. There is potential for human error in this installation as there’s a risk the wrong