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The Dissolution of the
Society of Craft Designers (SCD)

A Historical Crafts Industry Article
by Barbara Brabec

To the deep regret of designers everywhere, the Society of Craft Designers filed for Chapter 7 Liquidation in 2006, and its members were then welcomed as "Designer Members" in the Craft & Hobby Association (CHA).

 

I WAS SADDENED TO LEARN that year that one of my favorite craft organizations was gone. The Society of Craft Designers (SCD), which I had promoted and applauded in my books and articles for yearsóthe organization that gave me an important "leg up" in the crafts industry when I was just getting started as a speakerófiled for bankruptcy on June 2, 2006.

In talking off the record with former SCD members at that time, I gathered that it was a combination of things that caused the demise of the organization that had served the crafts industry for thirty-one years: the changing crafts industry, for one, and a change in the organization's management for another.

In addition, the growth of the Internet by then had forced many print craft magazines out of business, and designers thus lost many of their markets. The magazines that survived began to insist on buying all rights (particularly electronic rights), which no professional designer or writer was willing to sell. This forced most of the better designers to either quit the business completely, or begin marketing their own lines on the web.

I know change is inevitable, but I always hate to see the end of something that once was so very special to so many. I was glad to learn at this time that craft designers would continue to have excellent opportunities to make connections in their industry through the Craft and Hobby Association (CHA), but I knew that most former SCD members were also mourning the loss of the kind of intimate caring/sharing/networking atmosphere they once enjoyed at the annual SCD conferences.

Held in different cities each year, these events had put absolute beginners on the same level as experienced pros who generously shared inside information unavailable from any other source. Here, in a quiet, friendly, and very informal atmosphere, both young designers and "old pros" could make vital connections with magazine editors, book publishers, and manufacturers. Attending just one annual SCD conference changed many an aspiring designerís life. But the Society also advanced the careers of craft teachers, speakers, and business writers like me.

In 1981, I was invited by Joyce Bennett, then editor of Crafts magazine, to present a keynote speech at the annual conference of the Society of Craft Designers. This wasnít just my first keynote; it was my first professional speaking experience, and I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. But the encouragement I received that day, the industry knowledge I gained, and the many friends I made in just that one weekend was beyond compare. In fact, Iím still benefiting from the friendships and industry connections I made through SCD all those years ago.

By the way, the topic of my SCD speech that year was on networking, a concept that was foreign to most crafters and designers at that time. But my talk that day proved to be a catalyst for serious networking in the crafts industry. My speech was published in craft magazines and later reprinted by the Society; before long, crafters everywhere had embraced the idea of "networking for success," an idea I have promoted constantly in my many magazine columns, books, and newsletters through the years.

2011 UPDATE: Recently, in chatting again with an old crafts designer friend I met through SCD, I learned that most of the designers who once attended all the SCD conferences no longer participate in the CHA trade shows, and thus no longer have any way to network as a group. A designerís discussion group existed on Yahoo for awhile, but it has  apparently disbanded. Many once-successful magazine designers who moved to the Web a few years ago with the idea of selling their designs direct to consumers have become discouraged by how their patterns and designs are being stolen and offered as free downloads by "crafty website owners" who have no regard for copyright laws and are impossible to stop because they hide behind their websites. "Itís all very discouraging," says one of my designer friends. "Iíve been thinking for some time that itís time for me to get out of this industry because the money isnít there anymore, and I canít fight the copyright thieves."

See this helpful related article by James Dillehay:
What to Do When Someone Pirates Your Images or Content

 

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