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#1
(This post was last modified: 04-20-2016, 12:13 AM by grim.)
I am trying to figure out the difference between an Artisan and non-Artisan. The word “artisan” is overused. There are artisan breads, beer, pizza, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers.

For Artisans I have this image in my brain of a SOLE individual, a one person company, where the individual makes everything by hand. So imagine its 1880 and you live in MN. You need a brush. You cut a branch from a tree. Cut it too size, strip the bark, and drill a hole with hand tools. Then you trap a badger but that’s too difficult so you find a horse and use some horse hair? Now how do you glue it? Did pioneers have glue? You get the picture.

Today, after listening to interviews with Rockwell razors, I can’t see them being artisans as they outsource manufacturing. So to make a brush, if you use a lathe is that cheating? That’s not done by hand, a machine is doing the work. How about the soap makers? Are they making those plastic containers by hand? How about printing the labels? Surely a computer does that. I really doubt they are out digging up lavender plants and pressing the oil. The ingredients are surely commercially bought.

So lets say its OK for technology to be used but its still a one person operation. One person makes the brush, packages it, invoices it, and mails it – and its OK if that person uses commercial boxes and computers. Is that an artisan? What if that one person has his/her spouse help in mailing? Now it’s a two person company. Is that no longer an Artisan company? Where do you draw the line? Someone is using a computer. Someone is buying commercial products and making something. What if that two person company has too many orders and hires some helpers? Now they have 4 working or 10 or 30? Where do you draw a line? How big does the company have to be before its no longer Artisan? If they use power tools and computers, its not like everything is done by hand.

Then one day, there is far too much business. So what if an automated lathe, if such a thing exists, cuts the handles? It's not like the brushmaker is hunting Badgers and Boars, cutting down the trees, cutting down exotic hardwoods in Brazil, etc. Someone else is doing all that. So now the brushes are made automatically – so what? If the design is that of the Artisan, why would anyone care if a computerized lathe did the work. It seems very inefficient to do it buy hand. After all, they aren't out hunting badgers. What's the difference?

I’ll extend this to soap. So Joe the Artisan soap maker got his formula down. But business is booming. Why not have a factory cranking out the creams or soaps? It’s still his or her formula. Surely Mr. Trumper or Mr. Truefitt or Lady Forbes started this way.  It’s not like the artisan soap makers are squeezing lavender plants getting the essential oils. No, they source the essential oils. I don’t know very many people growing 1,000 acres of lavender. Do you?

So – where is the line drawn, once the company moves from one person to two? And what does it matter – really? Is that artisan bread made by Joe the Baker better than the artisan bread you can buy in any grocery store today using the exact same formula?

If Lady Forbes came up with a formula for Castle Forbes shaving cream, and it works, and surely many consider it a top tier product, then just because its mass produced its not artisan? But when she started out it was? If it's the exact same thing, why would anyone care?

Just wondering because I see a very hazy line here, especially if the artisan uses technology to assist them - where do you draw the line in technology? If the computer is printing labels - hmm, then whats the difference if the computer mixes the ingredients for a cream?

NeoXerxes and CHSeifert like this post
#2
I have always found the distinction between artisan and non-artisan to be hazy at best, untenable at worst. There is no real distinction, except in defining the size of the company. Ultimately it is more or less irrelevant to me, as other considerations (like performance and price) provide more useful categorical distinctions IMO.

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#3

Chazz Reinhold HOF
(This post was last modified: 04-20-2016, 12:33 AM by hrfdez.)
Good luck!  This is a dog that I have seen beaten up pretty good in the last five years, lol.....

I'll seat back and enjoy the blood bath Big Grin

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#4
(This post was last modified: 04-20-2016, 12:45 AM by brucered.)
When it comes to soaps, which is where it is most widely used on shaving forums.

Artisan = perfected their craft, a master, professional, no formula changes.

Non-Artisan = still working regularly on improvements and formulas, tweaking things and doesn't have a stable final product.

Most of the soaps for sale and used by forum members, I would consider Artisan. Etsy soap makers and eBay, no so much.
#5

Member
Boston, MA
Artisan: Hand crafted, small batch

Non-artisan: Mass quantities produced at a time (1000+ imo) using industrial equipment and large quantities of ingredients to produce the goods.

Obviously there is just an incredible amount of gray area.
~ BRENDEN

#6
(This post was last modified: 04-20-2016, 01:00 AM by grim.)
(04-20-2016, 12:39 AM)Bruce Wrote: Artisan = perfected their craft, a master, professional, no formula changes.

Non-Artisan = still working regularly on improvements and formulas, tweaking things and doesn't have a stable final product.

(04-20-2016, 12:44 AM)Goose Wrote: Artisan: Hand crafted, small batch
Non-artisan: Mass quantities produced  at a time (1000+ imo) using industrial equipment and large quantities of ingredients to produce the goods.  .

OK, great so far. Totally different answers. Confused2

Castle Forbes meets @"Bruce"  defintion but not Goose

Hmm


(04-20-2016, 12:23 AM)NeoXerxes Wrote: I have always found the distinction between artisan and non-artisan to be hazy at best, untenable at worst. There is no real distinction, except in defining the size of the company. Ultimately it is more or less irrelevant to me, as other considerations (like performance and price) provide more useful categorical distinctions IMO.

I agree. I'm not sure why anyone cares and I would like to understand why people throw the word around so much.
#7
(This post was last modified: 04-20-2016, 01:06 AM by brucered.)
grim

As stated above and by yourself, I'm also in the camp of "I don't care what others think or is on the label". Artisan or not, so long as it works.

It's a buzz word that has probably lost it's true meaning with how widely it is used today.

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#8

Chazz Reinhold HOF
Lol.....

[Image: zwKql1c.jpg]
#9
grim, I've also noticed that "artisan" is equal parts praise and pejorative (<--- alliteration victory). Some use it to describe a praiseworthy person who labors to provide the best products and services possible. Others use it as a label to identify amateurs and founders of fledgling companies. It all depends on perspective really.

To me the debate is a bit like looking at the options for "race" in a census form, as if "black", "white", "asian", etc. are binary categories that people will always neatly fall into Tongue. In real life, people aren't simply "artisans" or "non-artisans", and more often than not the proper use and application of these terms will be determined by a marketing focus group.

BadDad likes this post
#10

Merchant
San Francisco CA
My definition is simple. If you make it personally you are an artisan.

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