In a way, I started Callithump! as a form of rehabilitation. I’d invested so much of my time, thought, and creative energies into the Internet that if it wasn’t on the Internet it wasn’t real to me. So I set out to rediscover the point to having a physical existence. From the creative standpoint, I wanted to explore what kinds of ideas could only be communicated in the physical space. Things like smell, texture and taste just don’t translate into cyberspace. There’s also a feeling of intimacy, a sense of interaction, that you get when you can pick something up, roll it around in your hands, put it in your pocket or pass it on to a friend.
I don’t think I’m alone in my need to explore the real. I think I’m just part of a much larger trend.
Over the past few weeks I’ve been attending crafts fairs as go-to boy for Jess. What’s been remarkable to me is how different these crafts fairs have been to the stereotypical ideas of a crafts fair. I didn’t see a single crocheted toilet seat cover, or a knit Barbie doll Southern Belle ball gown toilet paper cozy (much to my dissappointment… I really wanted one!). Instead, there was a rich variety of young craftspersons, many of who seem to be rediscovering traditional analog methods of production like silkscreen, letterpress, sewing and knitting. But the traditional techniques have been remixed to become hipper, edgier, contemporary. If only I’d realized that what I was seeing was going to be so cool! I would have brought my camera along and taken a lot of pictures so you could see what I’m talking about!
I really hope this is a growing trend, not just the trend of the minute. If it is a growing trend, why is it happening? It’s easy to take the default position and blame the economy. Money is tight, so people are trying to make a little more by making and selling stuff in their spare time. That might be part of it, but I think it’s more. Here in the US we’ve seen an end of quality and uniqueness as nearly all manufacturing has gone overseas. We’re left with mass market crap made in sweat shops and sold at WalMart. It’s cheap because it’s cheaply made, and it’s all the same whether you buy it in Bangor, Maine, or Pasadena, California. If you’re shopping for a present, kind of gift is that? Wouldn’t you rather buy something hand-crafted by an artisan who you can actually talk to when you buy it?
I think it’s also happening because i’m not the only one who’s nostalgic for the real. We’ve traveled far down the digital path, and many of us spend more time on Facebook than seeing our friends actual faces. We’re spending money on things that are only nominally real, like songs on iTunes, that don’t have any physical substance, and the only thing you’ve actually bought is the right to listen to a song on a limited number of devices. We’ve been filling our lives with things that are temporary, impersonal, intangible, and ultimately unsatisfying. I think people are rediscovering the joys of “real stuff made by real people.”