Artisan!: Crafting Alternative Economies, Making Alternative Lives

This event has now passed.

Date: 10 September - 11 September 2018
Venue: X Block, Frenchay Campus, UWE Bristol
Time: 11:30

Download the conference programme (pdf).

We are witnessing a veritable explosion of artisanal production and consumption, as one dimension of a broader craft economy estimated to be worth upwards of £3.4 billion GVA per year. From beer to motorcycles, from bread to furniture, the craft economy offers a reconfigured model of production and speaks to alternative patterns of consumption. Given the craft economy's character as a space of culturally embedded skilled making, artisanal craft stands to benefit from the emergence of important trends in contemporary consumption practices, where bespokeness satisfies an emergent drive for:

  • authenticity
  • sustainability
  • personalisation/individualisation
  • new expressions of connoisseurship.

Questions about artisanal consumption

In the context of the broader craft economy, what exactly is meant by artisanal production in the 21st century?

What motivates people to produce in the manner of the artisan, what characterises the nature of artisanal work, and what opportunities and challenges do such production practices entail? How is artisanal work (re)configured in the context of the digital?

What are the political implications and potentials of artisanal economies? How do creativity, quality and the aesthetic feature in artisanal work? What relationships exist between artisanal production and (sub)cultures of consumption?

What relationships exist between artisanal work and ethical and sustainable consumption? How is artisanal work represented? How do key social identities and inequalities inform the artisanal-craft economy?

What kinds of social relations do artisanal economies invite? What relationships exist between artisanal production and the urban and rural spaces in which such production is located?

What relationships exist between artisanal production and mass industrial manufacture? How can nations, regions and cities best nurture and sustain artisanal economies, and there related social and cultural characteristics and qualities?

What futures does artisanal production have?

About the conference

This multi-disciplinary conference aims to explore the questions above and further, as they relate to the nature and implications of artisanal economies, and with particular regard to understanding their social, cultural and spatial underpinnings and consequences.

Conference themes

The conference will address the following themes:

  • Theorising and Conceptualising the artisanal
  • Historicising the artisanal
  • Artisanal practice - (Re)Making and (Re)Crafting - 'Why we make things and why it matters'
  • Crafting the digital
  • Creativity, Innovation, Quality and the Aesthetic in the Context of Artisanal Work
  • Artisanism in the context of advanced technologies
  • The spaces, politics and economics of artisanal production, retail and consumption
  • Social identities, inequalities, relations, movements and networks in the context of artisanal economies
  • Artisanal production and the (sub)cultures of consumption
  • Representing/marketing the artisanal
  • Questions of sustainability - materials, processes, re/upcycling
  • Artisanism, tradition and the nostalgic
  • Crafting vintage and the retro
  • The futures of artisanal production, retail and consumption


  • Professor David Gauntlett, Professor of Creative Innovation and Leadership, Faculty of Communication and Design, Ryerson University, Toronto (via video presentation)
  • Julia Bennett, Head of Research and Policy, The Crafts Council
  • Dr Richard Ocejo, Associate Professor of Sociology, John Jay University, New York

More speakers are to be confirmed.

Event programme

Conference day one Monday 10 September

11:30 - Coffee and registration

  • Welcome and Introduction to the Conference
  • Keynote
  • Parallel sessions
  • coffee, tea and refreshments
  • Parallel sessions

17:45 - Close and Reception

19:45 - Conference Dinner

Conference day two Tuesday 11 September

9:00 - Coffee and registration

  • Keynote
  • Parallel sessions
  • coffee, tea and refreshments
  • Parallel sessions
  • Lunch: meet artisans, Q and A and round table discussions
  • Parallel sessions

16.15 - Closing remarks

How to attend

In order to attend please purchase a ticket via UWE Bristol Online Store. Prices are below:

  • Concessionary Rate: 1 day - £20 or 2 days - £40
  • Full rate: 1 day - £40 or 2 days - £80

Please note: Registration deadline is 10 August 2018 for presenters and 4 September 2018 for non-presenting delegates. Accommodation is not included in the price.


Bristol offers a wide variety of hotels, to suit all tastes and budgets and below are a selection of hotels for your consideration. We would advise you to check the hotel rates before booking a room, as rates may be subject to change.

Hotels closest to the Frenchay campus:

Hotels in Bristol city centre:

Contact us

If you have any queries please contact either:

Back to top