Meet Ketan (name changed for their privacy). Ketan, as you can see, is an artisan who specializes in the art of weaving. He produces household articles like cushion covers, bed sheets, blankets and even attire like sarees and kurtas. Now Ketan has learnt that social media like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest are incredibly strong tools that one can leverage in the rise of the internet era. He can showcase his abilities, market his products, communicate with both potential and repeat customers—all through the touch of his fingers and without any cost.
A turning point took place in the past two years, that in an overarchingly modernity-centric outlook of the world, has suddenly offered old traditional crafts and aesthetics a rebirth. The love for handmade products, in their entirety, details and imperfections, seems to be finding a new home in the eyes of a modern Indian. With Instagram and Pinterest flocking with content surrounding handicraft markets like that of Banjaara and Khurja, the artisan has to rise up to the occasion and take advantage of this movement.
The handicraft industry is one of India’s biggest employers and a mainstay for the rural economy after agriculture. The All India Artisans and Craftworkers Welfare Association estimate that 23 million people work in the sector, with many communities depending solely on their craft skills as a source of income and livelihood. The COVID era has exposed the requirement for involving modern technology and digitization in the trade and personal aspects of one’s life. Like Ketan, India’s many more handicraft workers have begun to move beyond traditional markets and government-backed shops to sell their wares, hoping that the rise of e-commerce can boost sales.
To keep the traditional craft alive and kicking, it is crucial for the artisans to understand how the trade has changed over time, they need to interact with the consumers and tell them all about their work and the story behind it, as well as learn ways to accommodate and assimilate the modern-day avant-garde into the traditional. This is a road paved through the borderless education that the internet can now provide—another way technology is contributing to livelihoods. The artisans can learn newer methods and design aspects through the plethora of guides and tell-alls on the internet, and also by collaborating with designers remotely.
In today’s date the consumption of art has varied from the past, this, in turn, results in it making more accessible for the consumer but also makes it a point that success in the trade comes with an immense need for understanding of marketing and other aspects of the trade beyond the craft. Workshops showcasing the know-how for pricing, marketing, branding, micro-finances, can further assist the artisans in eradicating the communication gap and encourage dialogue.
Sirohi Artisans taking undergoing training at Bhagwanpur Cluster
The case in point is a sample of how being able to leverage the good of disrupting innovations and technology can help towards the resurgence of the craftspeople and artisan’s livelihood. Together with our efforts and yours, we can explore opportunities together to create platforms for these communities and artists; and save the Indian crafts industry both locally and globally.