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Stones are heavy and inert. But once in motion they move irresistably. No stone craftsman cheerfully spends time on marketing and advertising except under duress.
Ornamental metalwork is predominantly filigree -- light, open, curved and dynamic, right? But if you try to move it from its place, it resists and no amount of yanking and shaking is going to move it. I can hardly believe what a colleague said to me at the IFGS meeting: "Metalworkers are like their sculptures, individually a work of art but collectively a huge scrap heap."
If the trade associations can't manage to build up our public image, then it will have to be done on private initiative. For the stonework folks it's a difficult task; For us I think it's practically impossible. The stone, wood and concrete lobbies have long been laboring to influence the curriculum in schools of architecture in the universities. Thanks to the financial support of their respective industries, they've managed to familiarize the architecture students with their media and have overcome any reluctance they might have had to use stone, wood and concrete in their plans. A whole generation of metalwork designers and fabricators, since the war, have omitted to undertake this public relations work. We all know the result: Architects are leery of metalwork, they fear using the unfamiliar and prejudice takes over where information is wanting.
The representatives of the blacksmiths and fabricators have neglected to demand our just due from the steel-using indutries during the prosperous years of industrial growth. It is we ornamental metalwork designers who interpret steel for the ordinary person, who make it congenial, comprehensible, even loveable -- not the automobile industry that cobbles good iron together with plastic and chome and hides it with lacquer.
The National Metals Association [Bundesverband Metall] spends five million marks in five years for apprentice recruitment. We ornamental metal workers have more applicants than we can use, even without advertising.
For us the shoe pinches in a different spot. As with the stonework industry, we're sadly deficient in public image advertising. The IFGS does what is possible for a small, independent association -- overlooking the energy that's wasted in silly internal conflicts.
The Bundesverband Metall is the right place to go for our image building. How long will we be complacent that there's no money there for us? When will we demand that our representatives march up to the steel industry with biggest shopping bag available and demand some recompense for the years of advertising that our artistic work has afforded the steel industry?
I know that all my colleagues are worthy, skilled craftsmen and women. We don't want to spend half our working hours from here on in, individually touting our image outside the workshop door.
There exist specialists in advertising, markets and marketing that earn their money by developing concepts. It behooves us to sit down with some of them and discuss how we can better reach our architects. But we don't want to do it with empty pockets. We've been too long politely modest -- and been left by the wayside. The time has come that we ornamental metalwork designers, artist blacksmiths and metal craftspeople should assume our proper place. The Bundesverband Metall and the Bundesfachgruppe Metallgestaltung [Approximately, National Professional Group for Metal Fabrication and Design - tr] have to get together on a common ground, establish a base for collaboration and they have to pay attention to what other industries -- for example the stone work people -- are getting right.
Copyright 1994, 1995 ArtMetal / Hephaistos