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2014 Trends for Arts and Crafts Businesses

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2014 Arts and Crafts Business Trends
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Artwork from Recycled Material

Lars Borges

Now that we are wrapping up 4th quarter sales for 2013, it's time to consider important arts and crafts business trends for the coming year. I always look at trends from both sides of the coin. I consider what is good for me as an arts and crafts business owner operationally (managing costs) and creatively (attracting and maintaining a customer base).

Two trends from prior years continue to be relevant going forward: handcrafting functional items and repurposing.   The other three are new-comers to my yearly list.

Before we get started, here are my 2014 arts and crafts trends in no particular order of importance:

  • Repurposing raw materials to both cut costs and maintain an eco-friendly business
  • Incorporating 3D printing
  • Making more of an effort to hit the lower price points
  • Creating small scale items
  • Making functional arts and crafts

Repurposing and Recycling

It’s the nature of the beast that all artists and crafters technically use recycled raw materials. I am sure that like me, you gather up your leftover raw materials and put them aside to use in your next project.  Let’s face it if you don’t retrofit your scraps to use in other projects, your cost of goods sold will be higher than need be and perhaps keep you from making a reasonable profit.

Repurposing means you take an item and use it for a different purpose than it was originally made. For example, you find an incomplete set of sterling silverware at a resale shop and bend the forks and spoons to make an interesting sculpture.

Every time I walk into a store I have my eye out for items on the deeply discounted sales table that I can either take apart or use whole to create my own craft items. Some of my clients troll yard sales or pick up odd bits and pieces while out on walks.

Reducing Your Cost of Goods Sold

As artist and crafters, the cost of raw materials to make our handcrafted items is probably one of our major expenses. Recycling and repurposing raw materials and supplies has been a continuing arts and crafts business trend for as long as I can remember and is one that will likely continue into the future. 

Increasing Your Profit Organically

Any way that we can reduce our raw materials cost serves to help our arts and crafts business two-fold. A reduction in costs passed on to our customers should lead to an increase in sales. This brings about an overall increase in profit. If we are able to create enough of a perceived value in our handcrafted items that we don't have to pass along raw material savings, then we are able to increase our profit on an item by item basis.

Artists and Crafters Doing Repurposing Well

I am constantly reminded that recycled items can be a thing of beauty or wit. While it's not possible in my area of craft to use only recycled or repurposed items, many artists and crafts can and do it quite well.

For example, Amy Flynn handcrafts witty robots entirely from found items. John Petrey's Dress Series made from repurposed aluminum, decorative tin ceiling panels, galvanized steel wire mesh and casting resin is just beautiful. Jeremy Mayer makes amazing art from typewriter parts.

The image on this page is a sculpture made entirely from recyclable packaging. A clever installation idea that I am using as a broad example.  Obviously, while visually appealing, this is not a type of item that you can cart around to arts and crafts show or ship to customers with any success. However, you can see that even the most mundane recycled items can be reworked into a piece of cool artwork.

The next page in this series of articles about 2014 arts and crafts business trends discusses 3D modeling and printing.

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