Art of the Folk…Folk Art

What comes to mind when you hear “folk art”?  Most of us have some vague idea of something crude, kitschy, or handmade.  While folk art varies greatly in scope, here are some common characteristics used to define this type of art

  • Produced by tradespeople or common citizens within a culture
  • Primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic.
  • Naive style in which traditional rules of proportion and perspective are not employed
  • also known as outsider art, self-taught art and naive art.

Folk artists are untrained  people who transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. They celebrate the joy of creativity without any knowledge of art’s conventions. Much of folk art’s roots lie in taking every day objects and turning them into art that still perform their original functions. Other expressions of folk art are simply for visual appeal.

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Folk art transforms as society does.  ElVocho2_Museo

When shifts occur in they way a culture lives, it is reflected in this art form. Folk art is generally specific to the area and culture in which the artist lives.The varied geographical and temporal prevalence and diversity of folk art make it difficult to describe as a whole. Many think of folk art as the antiques you find in grandma’s barn, but there is no era for folk art because it’s always been a part of our culture — It is a cultural mirror that reflects society.

Folk art suffered during the Industrial Revolution. It didn’t disappear, but took a backseat to the new world of technology.


When mass-produced products became available, commercial products replaced the desire for one-of-a-kind, homespun creations.

Remember, when mass-produced products first came on the market, people thought they were fantastic!  Suddenly, everyone could have things that were made quickly and cheaply. Machine-made items were the bomb!


What’s old is new again…

Eventually mass-produced, imported by the billions, cheaply made “stuff” would lose its charm — for some.  And then what did consumers turn to?  Yup….one of a kind, rustic, handmade, whimsical objects of a bygone era.

Once again, profit seeking entrepreneurs paid attention.  Companies jumped on the “faux folk art look” and mass-produced vast quantities of cheap knock-offs that have become so very popular in stores like; Home Goods, Hobby Lobby, Pier One Imports, Home Design, Bed Bath and Beyond……..

Now EVERYONE can have folk art facades! But…

Buyers Beware! Folk Art is Easy to Fake

In response to mass productions of “objects d’ art”, artists, and communities supporting them, created a resurgence in traditional arts and crafts shows.  Using the great-grandchild of industrial era technology — the computer– artists and art lovers were able to connect and spread the word that folk art still thrived.

My parents, back in the late 90s got into craft shows.  My father made copper and glass lawn ornaments.  Remember those things you’d stick in your yard?  Craft shows became a very popular way to reignite the passion for uniqueness. The spread of craft show popularity can be attributed to the Internet. Of course commercial ventures also horned in to schlock out mass-produced replicas of  “faux-2c7b50861675fd2d24ff815d90aa5bd3Art” or, as I call it, ” neo-plastical junk”.  The technology that once supplanted folk art now allows everyone an equal voice online.  Artists can go toe to toe with big companies in advertising their unique work. Craft shows are still very popular today.

Craft Fair Directory

Have you heard of Etsy?  The website is a Mecca of handcrafted goods. From their website

The heart and soul of Etsy is our global community: the creative entrepreneurs who use Etsy to sell what they make or curate, the shoppers looking for things they can’t find anywhere else, the manufacturers who partner with Etsy sellers to help them grow, and the Etsy employees who maintain and nurture our marketplace.

This extremely popular site has turned individual, home-based creators into an artistic collective . Technology is embracing and celebrating these artists and allowing them a global voice. People can find and purchase culturally based art that originates anywhere in the world.

Thanks to technology, any artist can find an audience for their work.  Online groups, blogs, promoters, social media, and artist created websites can quickly and efficiently reach a world market.  The costs are minimal and only basic computer skills are needed. JUST BEWARE OF THOSE FAKESTERS!

Here are some sites of artist communities:

Folk art popularity may wax and wane, but as long as there are folks — there will be folk art.  It’s an essential part of who we are and how we express ourselves. Through technology we can truly enjoy the creativity of people all over the world.


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