The blog of Hannah Robinson, artist, illustrator and graphic designer.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

10th November 2011

Craftivist Collective Interview
Mini Protest Banner
It is my great privilege this week to have Sarah Corbett in the interview chair. I know I normally publish my interviews on a Monday, but I want to promote this blog at the Green Backyard this Sunday and make sure people read about this fantastic online collaborative.

I first came across the Craftivist Collective back when I ran a feature about kits last month. I discovered Sarah's protest banner kit, and was immediately fascinated. I'd never seen anything quite like it online and I loved the thought behind it. I also have a love of 'found' art, something left in a public place for a stranger to find, so this item in particular spoke to me personally. Her shop is a showcase of interactive products centred on peaceful protest, the photography alone is artwork in itself. A few clicks later and I was reading all about the work of the Craftivist Collective. I could enthuse on and on about the shop and her website, but Sarah's better than me at explaining, so without further ado...

Please introduce us to the Craftivist Collective. 
Our manifesto is: “To expose the scandal of global poverty, and human rights injustices though the power of craft and public art. This will be done through provocative, non-violent creative actions.”

We are seen as one of the leading groups in the craftivism movement. We encourage individuals and groups to deliver our projects wherever they are in the world and support them with instruction videos, photographs of examples and personalised support when needed. We also set up events, workshops, exhibition and stunts. We have worked with the Tate Gallery, Hayward Gallery, British Museum, Sheffield DocFest, Ladyfest, comedian Josie Long, jewellers Tatty Devine amongst others.

We have craftivists across the world (including LA, Vancouver, Melbourne, Berlin, Glasgow, Manchester, London) actively taking part in our craftivism projects and supporters including Josie Long, Tatty Devine jewellery designers, Rob Da Bank, Sam Roddick and Jon Ronson to name a few (bearing in mind we find it uncomfortable to actively promote our collective ourselves).
We want to show people that making people aware of the injustices and poverty in the world can be fun as well as empowering. It doesnt have to be stressful or elitest. Anyone can be a craftivist whatever their skill or understanding.
In the words of one of our craftivists Rosa Martyn: A spoonful of craft helps the activism go down.
Our craftivism projects aim to challenge people’s views and reach out to those who may have not have previously accessed activism and groups for social change. You don’t have to be creative or an experienced campaigner. We also target media outlets that may not cover social justice issues but would cover craft, art, culture or fashion stories.
We often display our finished products in public spaces to provoke passers by into thinking about the issue. But also, the act of creating a product – crafting something with a campaigning message – should provoke thought in the maker and observer.
We encourage craftivists to send us examples of their craftivism and their thoughts for our blog. If you have a craftivism idea or a project you want our support with please contact us- we are always looking for craftivism projects to support and it has worked very successfully in the past.

What kind of reaction have you had so far to the Craftivist Collective?
The majority of people have been really supportive and positive. In two years we have gained over 900 followers and there are people and groups around the world who deliver our projects which is amazing. We have received a handful of negative feedback from activists saying we won't change the world through craftivism but we don't call ourselves campaigners but rather people who provoke thought and conversation about injustices with the hope that these discussions lead to action. Everyone seems to love our Mini Protest Banner kits and that's what sells the best on our Folksy site. I'm being asked more and more to deliver workshops, talks and stalls too which is exciting.
Craftivist Collective in the Big Issue, Oct 2011
You seek to tackle injustice through handmade craft. What kind of issues have participants chosen to address?
We have a manifesto (see above) so we have a clear purpose and our message is united: focusing on human rights injustices and global poverty as they are our big passions and we can't spread ourselves too thinly. Within that framework people have addressed the issue of domestic violence in UK and Spain (by a spanish Craftivist), climate change affecting the poorest people in the world the most, the impact of inequality, tax-dodging and so much more. You can see some of our banners on the website and Flickr. 
What's your favourite crafting activity?
I love cross-stitching. It calms me down after a stressful or busy day. I can do it anywhere: On the bus, trains (I get travel sick but crafting is one of the few things I can do that doesnt make me feel ill), cafes, with friends, in front of the TV. I also really like hand embroidery and like embroidering messages on cloth for friends as gifts but also for our current project Don't Blow It where we embroider personal messages to MPs and other influential people asking them not to blow their chance to use their power and influence for good. I'm hoping to make these into kits for our Folksy shop soon.

How can people reading this become more involved?
All of our projects are on our website in the project section here and people can do them anywhere in the world as an individual or group. Most projects include instruction videos, photos of examples and more information about the project. 
We really really encourage people to email us with an image of their craftivism piece they have done and a small write up about the issue they care about. Our most recent blogpost by a craftivist in Liverpool from Spain can be read here as an example. 
We also do events, talks and workshops across the UK when we are asked and can afford it plus we have regular events in London for people to join in our crafty activism. Our events page on the website is always updated.
Window display workshop at News From Nowhere, Liverpool

 Plus you can contact us on for more info if you can't find it on the website.
 You can also join our Facebook Group, follow us on Twitter, flow our blog, join our mailing list etc to keep up to date with everything. You can find all of the links on our homepage of the website on the right hand side.

Please do visit the Craftivist Collective website for inspiring ideas on sending your voice out into the world through craft. They also have a YouTube channel. Thanks Sarah for letting me interview you, and of course have a look at the shop. If you do decide to become involved, please let Sarah know, and me! I'd love to see people's efforts.


  1. Great interview. Had a look at the website and bookmarked. I've never thought about how craft can be used in that way, very thought provoking and something I'll certainly look into.


  2. Yes, food for thought! I love this idea and will look further into it.


    (cherry tree)