In a previous article discussing made-to-order products, we looked at some of the things that define a piece of work as being custom. In a phrase, custom is simply one-of-a-kind. To make an object unique, it requires elements that are unusual, or tailor-made for a specific client or need.
First are the unique or unusual details. These do not have to be something never before done. In fact, more often than not, they are simply common details that are arranged in a unique manner. This could take the form of a different type of material or even color, that sets the piece apart from other products like it. The unusual can also take the form of injecting design elements together that don't normally belong with each other. An example of this type of detail could be juxtaposing a rusted piece of metal into a sleek monochromatic contemporary design. Second on the list are items included by a deliberate need or request (tailor-made). Most artists or builders have a style, or set way of doing things. When a custom piece is part of a collaborative effort, the ideas and requirements of others can force the crafts-person to do things never before done. This process makes the work unique and custom.
We live in a ready-made consumer world. As if by conspiracy, fast-food, internet commerce and social media put things right in front of us. When things get easier to acquire, prices often come down (which is how the corporations encourage us to consume in quantity). The custom world is a little different. You must be willing to wait longer, employ the skill of a local artisan and generally pay a little more. This approach is not about quantity or ghastly profits, but rather quality and heirloom lasting relationships. Buying custom products and services has to be a chosen mindset, because it goes against the grain of the New Millennium consumer mentality. We need to be re-educated about how to shop in this global marketplace. Utilizing custom work is like eating natural food grown properly without additives; in the long run, the benefits of a healthier body (or quality product/service) far outweigh the slightly higher upfront cost of investment.