Craft Journeys — inspiring career profiles

by Zoe Dennington from Crafts Council

Craft generates £3.4 billion for the UK economy each year, with the contribution of the wider creative industries now growing at twice the rate of the UK economy. In 2017, Nesta published The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030, which found that current occupations predicted to decline due to automation could instead adapt and grow if new skills, particularly those associated with creativity, were combined with existing skill sets.

Despite evidence that job opportunities in the craft sector will continue to grow, the schools we work with at the Crafts Council tell us that students and their parents often worry that pursuing a creative subject might not lead to a job. Challenging this misconception is a real challenge for the creative industries.

A first step for the Crafts Council is our Craft Journeys series: a set of career profiles exploring different routes into the craft sector. We wanted to highlight the diverse range of jobs in craft; from pattern cutter to studio ceramicist, jewellery designer to fashion historian. We also wanted to share practical information that would help young people choose the right pathway for them, whether that’s a University degree or an apprenticeship.

Fashion Historian Amber Butchart is one of the featured creative professionals whose work is closely linked to craft. Amber now has several books under her belt, not to mention BBC series A Stitch in Time, amongst others. Looking back at her career journey, she reflects:

‘A large part of the challenge for me has been convincing people that clothing can be a great conduit to tell stories about the past. People often dismiss dress and fashion as frivolous and not worthy of study, so challenging these assumptions has been a long process.’

Ceramicist Sam Andrew describes how his career took shape following a degree in a very different field:

‘I started by selling a few pieces online and at local markets. At the same time I began teaching some workshops in my mother’s studio. I also did outreach pottery work with homeless people in Manchester, part of a social enterprise my mum was running at the time. Having taught English in Japan for a year, I obtained an online teaching qualification and studied educational psychology at university, I was well positioned to structure classes and ceramic workshops.’

And the dynamic jewelry making duo Tatty Devine have this advice to offer those wanting to break into the craft industry:

‘Be passionate about what you make and do, learn as much as you can about its history, and practice as much as possible. Find people who you like to talk to about your work, join in and find your local craftspeople — be part of the community, in real life and online.’

Below is just a preview of some of these journeys; there are nine in all, which cover the span of our subjects’ careers from early passions, to burgeoning success and professionalism. You can view these and other journeys in full, here: