What makes it “Artisan”?

There’s been an interesting debate growing in various circles regarding the actual definitions of powerful, descriptive words or phrases like “all natural”, “gourmet”, or “artisan”. Since we eat, sleep, breath, and live artisanal vs mass-produced I thought I’d take a dive down the definition rabbit hole and just see what could be found….and boy was it an eye-popper!

According to the Oxford dictionary, it means “a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.” So does that mean that your favorite handyman should be considered an “artisan”….or what about your plumber? Though perhaps one of my favorites was when someone added “my favorite is an artisanal greenhouse that I get all of my plant starts and flowers from”, which begs the question: does it count if it is cultivated rather than made? (Don’t even get me going about the crazy arguments the fly around in the food industry about this label!)

When you read a little further you find a bit of a history lesson. It was originally from Italian artigiano, based on Latin artitus, past participle of artire ‘instruct in the arts’, from ars, art- ‘art’, and began showing up in around the mid-16th century. (Man, you’d think with a word that has been thrown around for over 400 years there would be more definition to it…hahaha.)

Now I’m going to say….I do strongly believe in the value difference between a “regular” item that has been mass-produced via factory systems vs a handcrafted “artisanal” item. Both have their place and purpose in our economies and environments, but for me it comes down to the care and craftsmanship that goes into the given product. When things are made by hand, even mass-produced, there is a lot more care that goes into not just the development of the given items but also the individual production of the same. There’s a story, a history, a message with each one which carries with it a story whispering to those who get to enjoy it. Sometimes that is all about comfort, other times it is all about relaxation, sometimes it is simply saying “good job, you got this need covered”. Either way, it is one of the reasons it is such an honor to highlight the fantastic people who serve their cultures and communities with the things their hands produce because we get to learn and share in the learning with every item that comes forward. And hey….I promise, my favorite plumber is definitely producing a finished result that is far outside of my own skill-set and has his own touch of expertise/artistry on it which carries a tale of caring!

So what do you think….where do you place the line between “regular” and “artisan” in the products and services you use?

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