In 2008 Intuit released The New Artisan Economy, which covered a combination of economic trends and changes that were resulting in the re-emergence of artisans as an economic force. We partnered with Intuit and the Institute for the Future on this report.
A recent article in Canada's National Post on the artisan economy reviewed and updated these trends. Key quote from the article:
If you think of artisans as the producers of handcrafted furniture and one-of-a-kind jewellery, raw-milk cheeses and small-batch whiskeys, think again.
With globalization and computerization upending many traditional workplaces, analysts predict successful 21st-century workers in all sorts of fields will have to summon their inner artisan. That includes not just the jewellers and cheese-makers but personal trainers, hairdressers and caregivers.
We would add to this description a third category, knowledge artisans. These are people who rely on intellectual and social capital to solve complex problems and develop new ideas, products, services and business models.
A good example of knowledge artisans are the 2.2 million independent workers who generate more than $100k in revenue. This group of highly skilled freelancers and independent consultants are successfully making their own way in today's turbulent economy.
You can read about this group, and independent workers in general, in more detail in the 2nd Annual MBO Partners State of Independence study report.
So from our perspective, we see 3 broad categories of new artisans:
1. New artisans that make things. This includes everything from hand-made jewelery to food truck chefs to boutique distillers to micro-manufacturers.
2. Personal service providers and especially those that provide high-end personal services.
3. Knowledge artisans that leverage their social and intellectual capital.
New artisans are an increasingly important segment of the U.S. economy. Many of these jobs are local and/or resistant to foreign competition and automation. Given the labor markets, becoming a new artisan will be the best employment path forward for many.