The Craft World from a Male Perspective

As we are getting closer to our Manmade event in June, in partnership with Etsy and Mr Wingate, we thought it might be interesting to hear from some of the male makers taking part. 

Sam Wingate  at his studio. Photo by  Yeshen Venema

Sam Wingate at his studio. Photo by Yeshen Venema

The idea for Manmade was formed by printmaker Sam Wingate (Mr Wingate) when he noticed how few men participated at the craft fairs he attended.

“As a man who makes things, I have always been aware of quite how few of us are out there making and selling in comparison to our female counterparts” he says. “The number of women selling at craft fairs like Crafty Fox far exceeds the number of men. I want to get more men involved with making and selling and dispel the myth that craft and making is just for the girls.”

"Manmade is about celebrating the craftsman – craft, and the act of making, is for everyone, men and women!  Our aim is to inspire more men to get making and start selling their creations." (Sam Wingate of Mr Wingate)

We spoke to some of the makers taking part in  Manmade about their experiences of the craft scene. 

Roderick Barker-Benfield, Rodology

Why do you think there are more female traders than male traders at craft markets?

"I'm not entirely sure, but if I had to theorise I'd say it's because we as guys tend to procrastinate more and work slower.  That doesn't necessarily affect the quality of our work, but it does mean we occasionally put off doing what needs to be done (like applying for craft markets) because we're thinking of other things.  Put simply, whilst we're still at home making the stuff, the ladies are already at the market selling it! "

How did you become a designer/maker and start trading at craft markets?

Becoming a designer/maker was a bit of a happy accident really. When I was a kid (much to my parent’s frustration), I used to love taking things apart to see how they worked. Cameras, lawn mowers, radio sets – nothing was safe in our house. The problem came from the fact that I could rarely put these items back together again so instead I used to take whatever I had destroyed and turn it into ‘art’.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine had commissioned me to make a piece of this ‘art’ for him.  I thought the piece would benefit from some old mechanical clock parts, but what I actually found when attempting to source them was a single complete watch movement.

I’d never seen anything so intricate or delicate before and knew I had to do something with it. Rather than take it apart to see how it worked I decided to skip the destructive phase and went straight to the art bit – I mounted it on a necklace and overnight and Rodology was born.

What are you most looking forward to at Manmade?

With Crafty Fox and Mr. Wingate collaborating with Etsy I think the quality of work on display will be very high.  Looking at the trader listings, I'd say there's a definite masculinity amongst the work on show which I'm also keen to see.  As for who's stuff I'm most looking forward to checking out, I love Zack Mclaughlin's incredibly detailed birds so can't wait to see those up close and personal.  Bentcopper's quirky industrial copper pipe man looks great fun and the Daniel Darby's unisex jewellery is right up my street.

Overall though I'm most looking forward to seeing a lot of beards.

Ed Povey, Place in Print

Why do you think there are more female traders than male traders at craft markets?

I think it probably relates to the types of product generally found at craft markets. Historically, craft markets have tended to feature a lot of jewellery, soft furnishings etc. Of course, plenty of men buy and make those sorts of product too, but the majority of customers are female, and I suppose it is only natural that the majority of makers would be female also. I think for certain product types, the balance is much more even, or even tipped the other way; there are always a healthy number of men producing artwork and illustrations. I think in the past men might have been a bit intimidated by the craft market scene, but it is great to see more and more men getting involved, and offering an increasingly broad range of product types.

Print by  Place in Print

How did you become a designer/maker and start trading at craft markets?

A few years ago, a friend and I had been speaking about the lack of affordable artwork relating to our neighbourhood. Having created a couple of designs for our own flats, we wondered if other people might be interested in them too. We created a few different designs based on landmarks near us, and pitched up at our first ever market at Herne Hill to test the water. We were amazed by the reception we received, and so from there we started working on more designs, traded at more markets, and the rest is history!

What are you most looking forward to at Manmade?

For us it will be a novelty to be exhibiting out of South London. Our collection of neighbourhood puns has opened up a whole city's-worth of potential customers, and I'm looking forward to seeing how our products are received out of our usual comfort zone! I'm also looking forward to catching up with some of my favourite man-sellers who I've met at previous markets across London and who are also going to be there at Manmade, particularly Pen&Gravy, Ray Stanbrook and Cha Com Letras.

Find out what male makers have to offer at Manmade on Friday 12 June (12 - 9pm) and Saturday 13 June (11am - 8pm) at The Old Truman Brewery (F Block - G4 & G5, Entrance via Ely's Yard), 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL, London.

Workshops, talks and trader listings can be found on the Manmade page. Entry is free, and all are welcome!