Co-founder Sharon Fain reflects on the starting of the Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters, why the upcoming awards show is so special and how they Oscars inspired all of this.
This Sunday many will watch with anticipation the Academy Awards. There’s a lot of excitement, pageantry and speculation leading up to them. While there might be a “season” of awards shows, this one remains king. I’d venture to guess it’s because it means the most to those who receive them.
And why do we see so many actresses (and actors!) get weepy and thank the “Academy”? It’s because of who votes for the honor-- it’s peer-based. While the Golden Globes has tried to unseat the Oscars, it is ultimately more rewarding to be affirmed by peers who understand the toil of your labor much more than a critic.
It was this peer-based affirmation and celebration of art that got me and KC thinking last year. After spending a few years helping her build her craft business and working with other makers, going to all the shows and seeing the love put into handmade products… we had to ask ourselves: Why isn’t there an Oscars of Crafting?
Sure, there are certain contests that you can “win” and get your product recognized, but most of these are hyperlocal (like a county fair) or are essentially internet popularity contests. But there wasn’t really anything that was a celebration or recognition by peers.
And so the Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters was born this time last year. What started as a way to celebrate the all of the amazing hard work and talent that goes into making items by hand has transformed into an active and vibrant community. We’ve created social gatherings where we have gathered together, sometimes crafted together, laughed together, and sometimes consumed delicious foods and beverages together. This social support for people who are usually doing things on their own has made the hard road of making more supportive and fun. The Academy of Handmade has also strengthened handmade businesses through business workshops, expert panels, and online interactive experiences. And our membership has grown to over 60 talented and passionate businesses.
Now, we get to celebrate the handmade businesses we have fallen in love with. On April 26 at Art Share LA in Downtown LA we will be throwing our very first awards ceremony. It will be nowhere as big as the Oscars, with millions of people watching, but we’re comforted by the fact that their first ceremony was a couple hundred people and lasted 15 minutes. We’ve all got to start somewhere.
So what does our future hold? We’re still not quite sure, but we know that it will include celebrating more and more handmade businesses that are putting blood, sweat, and love into what they make.
The Academy of Handmade Awards nominations close March 19 and are open to anyone who is part of the handmade community. Only members can vote on the best artist awards. Membership information is available at academyofhandamde.com/membership-process.