Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Is the Craft Magazine a Dinosaur? - an editorial

I have read several articles over the last few months asking if the internet is killing off print craft publications - books and magazines.

Long analysis short, the answers are premature. Yes, some magazines have come and gone, such as Craftseller (UK), Interweave's Stitch magazine, and Stitch Craft Create. 

But there are always new start-ups and then many, many long-lived standards of the world of quilting, knitting, crochet, sewing, and embroidery healthy enough to stay in print.

Magazines have certainly come and gone. Everything changes. But the internet did not discover craft and the DIY revolution is not one. Millennials did not revolutionize handcraft. 

What millennials have done is use the most immediate global communication tool to make visible the printable ice cream cone and pom poms. They did not reinvent the crocheted granny square but they made it possible for everyone to get the pattern. They did not discover the chevron, nor owls, nor pennant flags. But they did invite millions to draw them, sew them, and play with them.

So are magazines going to go by the wayside if tutorials and patterns are so readily available?

In my opinion, no, not for some time. And here's why. 

Meet an internet trend:

Web locations have lost the creativity they wish to bring to their readers. They all look the same. They all use a handful of templates that are remarkably similar. A system is designed (such as this blog page or my newsletter template) and the content is stuffed into it regardless of the mood, season, or style of the content. 

And more often than not, site B will simply copy the craft of site A because if it's trending, you might find site B on Google when you search the trend. So a trend isn't a trend at all. It's just a bunch of copycats who want to be found on Google so they can sell you a product or idea. 

In the case of Scandi decor, the minimalist ideal is there to sell you the feeling that you don't own much and are not a materialist. This feeling will cost you several weeks' pay. That's a remarkably creative irony.

You can buy a pattern or bookmark a tutorial on your phone but you still need to sit down with a computer to download the printable or pattern. And that's cool, but it's no different from photocopying a page from a library book without having seen the rest of the book. The experience is easy and doable, but there is no depth. It's the fast food of the craft world. And we all know fast food gives us a temporary feeling of satisfied bloat, but we're hungry again in an hour or so.

Magazines, on the other hand and IN the hands, are the rest of the book. They contain articles, meet the makers, supply sources, variety of projects, instructions, and the patterns already printed and ready to go. They are not just a project, they are an actual product.

In the world of magazines, content is taken seriously. The magazine is designed around the content. Content is written and chosen before layout is designed, before headlines are written, and paragraphs are designed to complement images which are carefully chosen to convey the story and teach technique.

Magazines have respect for your brain. They aren't telling you a felted owl iPhone case is definitely cool and you would be too if you "liked" it. They put that felted owl iPhone case among a variety of possible options and let you choose. They appeal to many tastes. Like a restaurant with menus and waiters. Maybe even tablecloths.

So why exactly do I think magazines won't die an agonizing death in the face of fast craft web-designated trends? Because most actual handworkers are still between the ages of 45 and 70. And we are a hands-on, readers of paper generation. We love a good digest of projects. We love to be enticed, romanced, engaged. We love the choice.

And if magazines go by the wayside in deference to online tutorials it won't be until most of us are gone. And I don't know about you, but I'm planning to stick around for quite some time.

I was just about to think of a conclusion for this post, something about how cool we are, a photo of crazy handworkers doing needlework in front of a stack of magazines, but this JUST came into my inbox and this is the first thing I saw when I opened it.

Seriously? This is all I've seen in Bloglovin's emails for weeks now. I'm going out to buy a magazine.


1 comment:

  1. I've been meaning to post this comment from Sue (the online comment box was not working for her so she sent me an email). Here's what Sue has to say: "I do hope print media is here for the long haul, I subscribe to the daily paper and several magazines but I cannot afford some of the $10 to $15 that some of the publishers think is appropriate pricing for a magazine. I do think it is wonderful that so many people are sharing their ideas and work on the internet but you are also correct that a lot of it begins to look like many people are coping the pintresst boards of each other, sometimes you wonder if there are any new ideas..."