Last year I was speaking at Interior Design Show Vancouver (IDS Vancouver) on how to work with artisans. The IDS team and I thought it would be useful to create a checklist of what to consider when you want to work with someone to craft a one-of-a-kind item just for you. Bookmark this one as it is useful for when working with artists, artisans, designers and trades people!
Hiring an artisan is more than just hiring skilled hands to create your dream piece. It is an opportunity for you, the consumer, to experience something exceptional. Not only are you the source of an object’s creation, you have full access to learn about the artisan, their environmental efforts, and the provenance of the material used. You are an integral part of a creative team with the aligned desire to create something extraordinary.
As an artisan and gallerist, I have the fortunate opportunity to work with a variety of artisans and clients and I have learned the most satisfying works are produced when the following considerations are realized:
The Artisan as a Person
I believe in synergy. As you work with your artisan of choice, do you feel more comfortable as your collaboration moves forward? Do you feel at ease asking questions and can you speak openly? Does the artisan listen with attentive ears and consideration? A passionate artisan with a love for her craft will more than likely share her process with you in a way that is inviting, fun, and educational.
Know Your Style
Considering an artisan’s style is as important as the consideration of craftsmanship. To save you time and disappointment, when researching talents, ensure the work they produce has the style qualities you desire.
Co-creating an idea with someone requires a few basic rules: work with someone you feel comfortable with and trust the process and your intuition. It is a good idea to come prepared with reference images to help the artisan understand your tastes and to help communicate your ideas. A skillful artisan will meld your ideas with their own style leading to something wonderful; your intension will radiate from the work.
Empower. Control. Ease.
No one likes to talk about how things can go sideways, but let’s be real- it happens. So let’s set you up so you can avoid any unfortunate outcomes. Control is essentially gained in planning and structure and there are 4 elements to consider:
A significant time in the project is the sketching stage and this is where revisions should take place. Once the construction of the work has begun some small alterations can usually be accommodated but this may impact the milestones and the costing. Ensuring you and your artisan are in sync in the early stages will save time and money.
The contract is your insurance policy and gives you something to fall back on should things go awry. Reputable, professional artisans will generally have a contract prepared. If the artisan does not have a contract, it is recommended that one be drawn up. The contract should include:Milestones
Projects, especially larger projects, are made of a number of parts and the construction of your project can be easily planned. Have the artisan provide a project timeline. If possible, arrange for studio visits to keep in touch with the project and avoid or correct any misunderstandings.
An important part of a successful project is communication. Communication establishes the working relationship which leads to trust and outstanding results. Regular check-ins make all the difference to a project and creates a bond between you and the artisan. This effort should be a 50/50 split.
Past Brass Tacks and to the Heart Beat!
We are at that key piece that tips a project into the realm of something special where collaboration of minds, talent and heart equals story! When my clients share their stories, the design comes alive. Their experiences provide inspiration and insight which is then worked into the work. I assure you this is when the client and artisan synergy takes hold and the magic happens.
**This was originally created for the loyal readers of the IDS Vancouver newsletter.
xoxo Meredith Nicole