Hansen Belyea Blog
Friday, January 29, 2016

Handmade in the Digital Kingdom

By Erin Anderson

Nearly a decade ago, the New York Times Magazine published an article entitled “Handmade 2.0.” It explored the renewed interest in creating and buying handmade goods instead of mass produced ones. Since then, online handmade marketplace Etsy has grown into a juggernaut with sales of $195.6 million dollars in 2014, proving that the movement is more than a passing trend. The handmade movement embodies our desire to move away from mass production and all its environmental and political entanglements.

So what does the handmade movement mean in a design world where digital is king? A quick glance at the Instagram feeds of leading designers like Stefan Sagmeister and Jessica Walsh reveals the trend is popular among more than just the hipsters and the Etsy set. Including elements that have been crafted by hand can lend an authenticity to your brand or project that would otherwise be difficult to convey, especially in the web arena where design is trending away from skeumorphic to flat.


Tips for Incorporating Handmade Elements Into Your Design

1. Does it fit the brand? Hansen Belyea had the privilege of creating a web site for Wild Fish restaurant in Mendocino, CA. Wild Fish offers a totally organic menu and cliff side views of the Pacific so rough-hewn illustrations were a great fit for their site. The illustrations furthered their message rather than distracting from or diluting it.


2. Is it feasible? Creating design elements by hand can take longer than on a computer. A color can’t be changed with the click of a button, and one mistake may require starting the entire thing over again. Make sure that your project timeline and budget allow for this.

3. Is it sustainable? If you are considering adding handmade elements into a campaign or brand, try to determine whether perpetually producing new elements is something that is sustainable in the long-term for you and your team.