Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Finding Information and Experience

Yesterday I attended the first ever collective meeting of local crafts guilds. Oregon has many guilds in the arts/crafts - previously there wasn't really an opportunity for guild members to mingle and network with artists from the other guilds. Now PNCA/CCM have sparked the movement to bring together the guilds into one collective.

They also brought Matt of Etsy from Brooklyn NY to discuss the new movement of TEAMS in regard to this collective guild effort.

The meeting was mostly to rally volunteers for various committees... but it really got me thinking about the history of guilds, the lasting legacy and the modern equivalent. Here is my overly brief and hopefully somewhat factual breakdown of the history of guilds :)

Ancient Times AD 300-600 Guilds were associations of craftspersons given funds and connections thru government/royalty/religion

Medieval Times 1100-1500 Guilds evolved into modern day business associations

Fall of the Guilds 1700-1800 Guild system was disbanded and replaced by free trade laws. Industrialization and Modernization.

Currently we live with all sorts of guild activity. Corporations and Associations existing in business and law reflecting a legacy of guilds. In the United States modern guilds exist in just about any field. There is a good article about this guild stuff in Wiki, if you are interested check it out.

Basically long story short - it was an intriguing meeting - got me thinking about all sorts of things. While at the same time it was a puzzling meeting, because it was mostly preaching to the choir. Does that make sense?!

I have been involved with the Oregon Glass Guild on and off for years now. Ever since I first took the plunge to become a full time glass artist I joined the local Guild and started attending meetings and doing demonstrations. It was a good opportunity to advertise my work as a local teacher and meet other local glass artists. I have dropped out of the membership over the years mostly due to boredom. Is that rude of me to say? I should use more finess, but hey, I'm honest! Its just that our local guild is pretty small, when the community of artists is so huge! Very few local full time glass artists belong to the glass guild, or if they do they don't show up to meetings. I adore the people I have met thru this group, but its pretty small and membership struggles. This seems odd to me.

I like the idea of this collective of guilds and bringing more of a spotlight on the local guilds, beefing up the membership would be great!

Because there are perks to being involved with your local guild:
  • exhibitions (in PDX the big show in the early summer can be a great opportunity to sell work)
  • group purchasing
  • education ie demonstrations and classes
  • networking
  • volunteer community outreach
PNCA (Pacific Northwest College of Art) is really interested in creating a mentorship program thru this guild collective to offer support and guidance to new artists graduating from school and trying to earn a living with their work. Not only does this support the young artists, it also leads to increasing the membership in the guilds. Currently the guilds seem to lack members in their 20s and 30s. An interesting factor to me about having Etsy present at this meeting was the target audience of Etsy being the exact age-range that the local guilds are not representing.

Also the Etsy TEAMS program is a modern day equivalent to a guild structure and team membership offers a lot of the perks listed above. Matt threw out the statistic: Etsy sellers that are members of teams are 15%-20% more successful than sellers who are not on teams.

One fabulous idea at the meeting was to have parties rather than having more meetings. I think that would be a great improvement, and it would be wonderful networking (more-so than sitting in chairs listening to people preach to the choir) as well as more appealing to a younger crowd to show up and check it out. I think it would work! I am down with more parties :) I think the ladies from the Potters Association brought up this idea - thank you!!


Pink Trees and Sunshine said...

Fun to see you last night, Leah, if only from afar! Great summary of guild history and of the meeting!

rosebud101 said...

I think that's a good idea, about the parties, I mean!