Partisan against the artisan

I USED to like the word, but now it flicks a switch marked internal rage. I’m smiling at people, saying “hello”, but I’m envisaging an attack with an axe and not one crafted by an artisanal tool maker.
EDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: A curse on the modern artisanEDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: A curse on the modern artisan
EDITOR'S PERSPECTIVE: A curse on the modern artisan

The stealing – it’s probably more making a sole claim to its use – of the word artisan by the middle classes, like they have stolen education, health, folk music, Glastonbury and most sports, annoys me more than it should.

They’re all over the place, these new artisans. They’re in every magazine you read – most probably do that online, which implies the very opposite of the word – and on every TV programme about moving to the country or the coast.

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Under the heading Forge-ing Ahead, an article explains: “Jemima and Harvey worked long hours in stressful jobs in the city but realised they were missing out on seeing their children Sky and Moon grow up and that money wasn’t everything. They bravely quit their careers to pursue the dreams they had of working as blacksmiths in a Devon village after Googling several possible life changing opportunities following an unexpected early inheritance after all four of their parents perished in a trip to the moon. Not just blacksmiths though. Artisanal ones.”

Harvey told Look How The Other Half Live magazine: “I went online and discovered there had been a forge here in 1344 but it was burned down by an insubordinate malcontent from the peasant classes, and after seeing a couple of photos we decided this village was the perfect place for us to keep the tradition alive for the three weeks a year we're going to live here, and hopefully, in the process, help close down some non-artisan shops and force out some locals.”

The article would go on to explain that Jem and Harv set up their business next to the artisanal baker after the real one closed down during Covid, though the artisanal coffee shop and artisanal artist are doing well. Is artisanal a word? I’ve used it so often I’m beginning to doubt myself. Better check my newly purchased Thesaurus of the Artisan.

The true definition of the word artisan - created when it took more than a person planing a piece of wood into the shape of a walking stick and adding a lick of varnish to convince themselves deserving of the word - is "a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand".

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In a way that still applies but it's a buzz word now, a marketing term, when it used to refer to those who produced commodities that we actually needed. You may have been a worker or the owner of the business, but you would make something and take your produce to the market, the one that sold stuff you would actually use, rather than today's crafty affairs that aim to flog you a wooden rack carved in the shape of a crocodile's mouth that will hold three pairs of the hand-made leather shoes produced by the trader next door at just £800 a time.

I'm getting hot under the collar here. Might need an artisan ice-cream or cloudy lemonade fragranced with locally sourced dock leaf to cool me down.

But I’ve been distracted. "Ooh look, a stall selling artisanal cheese, see, over there between the artisanal jeweller and medieval burger grill.”

It’s too much, I’m off to find a discount store from which to purchase some close-to use by date factory produced coffee.

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I’m also going to abandon the plan to change the name of my website to The Artisan Writer. All I would need is a couple of pictures of me writing with a quill and a fancy font, but what kind of a **** would do that?

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