democratizing creativity, Part III: Creativity Kits, really?

{Editorial note: I have so much more to say on this subject, and please bear with me for it has drawn out longer than expected. I will wrap it up by the end of the week, I promise. }

Still-lifeWhat really gets under my skin about democratizing creativity  is the abundance of ‘creativity kits’ out there.  Everything has been pre-imagined, pre-designed, pre-cut and pre-packaged for you. Where is your individuality in that? How much creativity does it take to make the exact same t-shirt as your friend…or worse yet, the exact same shirt as the one you can get from Hell-Mart?  There is now a kit for practically every kind of craft you can think of. 

When I first developed an interest in screenprinting, I imagined everything I could make with it.  I envisioned printing bed-linens (amongst other household goods) with my designs.  I actually did print a set of sheets as a friend’s wedding present.  Before long though, the Yudu machine was introduced to the market. I actually do like the Yudu for what it is, a small exposure unit for your screens. The downside is that the consumables are ridiculously expensive, and the unit is only big enough to print t-shirts.

Can’t afford the initial outlay for the Yudu? Craft stores are now selling pre-exposed screens so you can print ‘your very own t-shirt.’ Oh really? My very own t-shirt with YOUR pre-designed and exposed design? Now anyone with a thought in their head could easily print a shirt expressing this thought. You’re a spoiled rotten princess with entitlement issues? Why not let the world know by wearing a billboard to proclaim it?

Red ripe pear in the glass box. Bright reflections.I don’t so much have issues with what people put on their shirts. It is a free country after all, and we have freedom of speech. What bugs me is that this product line is a rip-off. The issue I have is that Big Craft (is that a thing?) is not only robbing people of serendipitous crafting experiences, they are also telling us what to put on our shirts! Grrrr!

I suppose it is possible to argue that these kits would provide an otherwise ‘non-crafty’ person with an opportunity to show their creative side. But that’s just it, assembling a pre-packaged craft does not allow for exploring and developing talents, just like paint by numbers kits do not teach you to become a master painter.  I suppose it all really depends on a person’s ultimate goal.  If your goal is to assemble, then assemble, but don’t call it ‘creating.’

Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is room for ‘kit crafting.” Sometimes it really is just about the experience of doing something. I just believe there’s entirely too many kits. A small part of me wonders if the abundance and availability of kits will devalue the actual craft, the process of crafting. It probably will not for those who really enjoy doing their own thing…but still.

What do you think?

3 comments Add yours
  1. This is actually really fascinating to me. The recent “mainstream” DIY surge and re-/up-cycling campaigns have caused many US businesses to see a sharp decline in sales, while DIY sales are growing stronger. Companies are trying to carve out a niche for themselves and take advantage of these campaigns by “manufacturing DIY”, essentially. I’m hoping the surge continues and grows stronger; with the economy the way it is now, it undoubtedly will.

  2. Hear Hear! I agree! Too much space is wasted in craft stores with those kits so that there is less raw material for actual creating. I think there is room for kits in kids crafting. Easier for Girl Scout leaders and class parties etc… but over all I feel cheated out of the create part of those kits.

    What are your thoughts on all these professional cutters? Right now I don’t want to put out $100 or more for a Silhouette or other similar product. They allow anyone to make professional looking things, but I get frustrated by the initial outlay and cost of supplies. So many blogs are about crafts made with those machines and I have to say it kind of bums me out. On the other hand, I would love one.

  3. @Rosette,
    I do hope the DIY surge continues. I think the loss of DIY spirit has caused our youth to not know how to do anything! Just as people are amazed at what I CAN do, I’m amazed at what people ASSUME that they CAN’T do.

    @Jane,
    I totally agree, there are basic raw materials that they could devote the space allocated to kits. There are supplies I’d prefer to see that I assume that the decision makers of these stores assume to be too esoteric for their target market. They could attract more hard-core crafters/makers by offering some of these supplies.
    As for the cutters, I absolutely love my Silhouette. I have the first generation that doesn’t have the SD card. I was able to get it for about $120 when the SD version came out. I love it because I am not restricted to cartridges. I can cut out any shape I can imagine! I say if you have any smidgen of design skill don’t get a system that ties you to buying expensive cartridges. There are other other (though more expensive) machines. i have found that they are all mostly manufactured by the same 1 or 2 companies. Here is a link for a very handy comparison chart that someone did: http://thatsscrapinc.com/ComparisonChartWithBlackCat.htm Good luck!

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