The Benefits of Creativity

Did you know that crafting can reduce stress and build self-esteem? In fact, research by the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) shows that activities ranging from scrapbooking to knitting can enhance your overall wellness in a variety of ways.

Since March is National Craft Month, there is no better time to try a creative activity. Throughout the month, brick-and-mortar and online stores will explore the many benefits of crafting. Numerous demonstrations, displays and exciting opportunities will highlight the ways you can spend time creating projects that provide both joy and fulfillment.

The charts below showcase some fun facts about the attitudes crafters have toward their activities.  This information is from AFCI’s 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study.


Overall, participating in crafts is special to crafters, and they would really miss it if they stopped. These feelings are strongest among those who participate in edible arts, painting and drawing, as well as kids crafts; followed by paper crafts and knitting and crochet.



Participating in craft activities makes most crafters feel proud.  Activities like paper crafting, painting and drawing, knitting and crochet, as well as needle arts make crafters feel relaxed.  Those who participate in edible arts and kids crafts also feel excited and joyful.



Crafters gain a sense of accomplishment by participating in craft activities.  When people participate in kids crafts they achieve warm relationships and a fun and enjoyable life.


Reap the benefits all month long by following us on social media and #NationalCraftMonth.

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Computers are learning the art of creativity in more ways than you may know

By Kristen Farrell, Manager of Marketing & Public Relations, Association For Creative Industries (AFCI)

Remember when the Google Arts & Culture App went viral earlier this year? The app introduced a new feature that uses a facial recognition algorithm to match a selfie with a museum portrait.

Google Arts & Culture App

Google has been creating algorithms that recreate art for quite some time. Google’s AutoDraw is an artificial intelligence experiment that helps you draw by combining “the magic of machine learning with drawings from talented artists”Quick, Draw!, another research experiment by Google, trains systems to learn sketches in a way that is very reminiscent of the game Pictionary.

The technology giant isn’t the only participant in this progression. Computer scientists at the Art & Artificial Intelligence Lab at Rutgers University are studying how to use artificial intelligence to replicate “perceptual and cognitive tasks related to human creativity.” Artsy hailed Professor Ahmend Elgammal’s new art-generating algorithm as “The biggest artistic achievement” of 2017.

So, what’s the relevance of all of this?

Computers are learning the art of creativity.

Although algorithms have not yet replaced an artist’s creativity, more research and developments in this area could change that one day soon.

As concerning as this may seem, there is an upside, which is:

Greater awareness and support for art education.

Research commissioned by the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) suggests that parents recognize creative activity as an essential component of creative thinking. As algorithm art enters the mainstream, it could spawn support for integrating art into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

Kids painting

Are you experimenting with algorithm art? AFCI is interested in learning how you are utilizing it in your creative business. Share your story by sending an email to

This is a portion of an article that appears in the 2018 Spring issue of Gradient, the premier magazine publication of the Association For Creative Industries. To read the full analysis of algorithm art, visit and log in to your member account at

A Crepe Paper Revival in Full Bloom

By Emily Barnes,

Crepe Paper Daisies (Extra Fine) Lia Griffith

Photo credit: Lia Griffith

Crepe paper was a popular crafting material in the late 1800s, used in the creation of ball gowns, home goods, and paper flowers. Since its popularity began to dwindle in the mid-1900’s, manufacturers have sought ways in which to recapture the glory days of crepe. With paper crafts making up 10.6% of today’s $36.2 billion US creative products industry, you can see why. Enter global manufacturer, Seaman Paper and their German subsidiary Werola.

Seaman’s expertise in manufacturing lightweight papers, coupled with Werola’s passion for innovation saw them develop a line of crepe papers that had never been seen on the US market before 2016.

“For our crepe paper we only choose the best raw materials. We have spent years perfecting a crepe paper with the ideal combination of stretch and stability,” says Bernd Firmbach, Werola.

Free of toxic and carcinogenic materials, this high quality crepe paper comes in a variety of 50 brilliant hues that are ideal for decorating, crafting, artful packaging, and more. But what has really captured the attention of paper lovers, is how this versatile material is being used to create exquisite paper flowers.

In 2015, AFCI Member Lia Griffith was already renowned for designing, making and sharing tutorials for making crepe paper flowers via her website, but she had yet to find her perfect crafting material. When Werola approached her about developing a branded line of extra fine crepe papers, Lia fell in love with the product. It was clear that this would be a natural fit.

Lia_Griffith_Author (1)

Photo Credit: Lia Griffith

“I was already teaching people how to use crepe paper in their crafts, now I had the opportunity to bring high quality, beautiful crepe paper to the US craft market. It was a match made in heaven” says Lia.

In the spring of 2016, the Lia Griffith crepe paper line was launched to the American market via Pacon, a provider of art, craft and education materials. In a color palette inspired by nature, these papers complimented the art of paper flower making perfectly, and so the revival began!

Through a sustained marketing initiative involving Lia’s daily DIY project tutorials and those of a passionate community of paper flower makers across America (via Lia’s Ambassador Program), crepe paper quickly began enjoying the limelight as a versatile and forgiving craft material. Not only are crafters using these beautiful papers to make stunning works of art, we are seeing on-trend home décor projects, unique gift wrap ideas and party decorations all made with this innovative crepe paper.

Using crepe paper to make flowers Lia Griffith

Photo Credit: Lia Griffith

Due to the success of the 2016 Lia Griffith program, 38 new colors were added this year in both extra fine and heavy weights. The program now features 26 high quality paper products including frosted tissue paper packs, waxed tissue and floral tape.

The “crepe paper revival” continues to grow with over 150k followers on Pinterest alone. With Creativity International picking up the program in the UK, and interest from both Australia and Canada, the 2018 program is set to be a blooming success.

Emily Barnes is the Director of Marketing & Public Relations for had humble beginnings as a one-person lifestyle blog, and with consistent, quality content has rapidly grown into a go-to resource for all things DIY. Now sharing up to 12 projects a week, the site continues to grow and gain new readers every day. Today Lia Griffith Media employs a team of 12 unique and talented individuals who together are passionate about sharing our knowledge and inspiration for a handcrafted lifestyle. Its daily blog posts and social media engagement focuses on nurturing a loyal community of makers and crafters. As the Lia Griffith brand grows and expands, the personal mission that Lia embarked on this journey with remains as strong as ever – to teach, inspire and reignite creativity. Because everyone can be creative!

Interpreting Our Industry Research – It’s Not As Scary As You Think!

By Keri Cunningham, Sr. Director of Marketing and Research, AFCI

Replacement pictures for page 24 - DIY cover image

Results from the Creative Products Size of the Industry Study Update are now available for Association For Creative Industries (AFCI) members. We often hear, “I don’t have time to decipher all of the key findings” or “I’m a creative person, not a numbers person”. Well, I’m here to tell you you can do it! If you set aside some time to review the report, you’ll see it as one of your most important member benefits.

Other members have used it to provide an in-depth perspective on our industry and support various initiatives such as: buying and selling; developing business plans; tracking trends; and planning, forecasting, and marketing company products.

I know it is intimidating, but don’t ignore it. This infographic highlights some key stats and ways the data can work for you.


Putting the Data to Work
What does all of this mean for you? Crafters are busy and cost-conscience so it is important for retailers and suppliers to deliver product and inspiration through an omni-channel strategy that integrates satisfactory in-store, online and print shopping experiences.

Since crafters are participating in multiple crafts, retailers can encourage unplanned purchases with tactical store layouts that place crafts with high-crossover tendency in close proximity. Retailers should show how products work together or how they are used for different applications. Display finished craft projects and keep the products needed to complete the project within easy reach. Online retailers can build impact and shopping basket size by suggesting complementary products.

Stores should emphasize the personalized nature of crafts for gifting and make the shopping experience more experiential. Think creatively and transform your space into a place where people can come to have fun with interactive activities, personalization and technology.

AFCI Members can download the full report for free by clicking here or choosing the Research link under the Membership tab at You’ll need the email associated with your membership account and password to gain access. Non-members interested in purchasing the report may contact me at or 201-835-1229.

The full version of this article is featured in the Spring issue of Gradient. AFCI Members can view the digital edition online at

Tapping into Attitudes, Emotions, and Values for Craft and Hobby Marketing


This article provided courtesy of Stitchcraft Marketing, a niche agency specializing in craft-centric small businesses. If you’d like more information about anything contained in this article, feel free to contact the owner of Stitchcraft Marketing, Leanne Pressly at for more information.

Annual sales of $36 billion. It describes the amount of money spent annually in the US on the major categories of crafts and hobbies, according to the 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Report Update created by MaritzCX for the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI). Among American households, 62% participated in some kind of craft activity in the preceding twelve months and almost a third participated in one to three different activities within that year. It’s a big market whose consumers have discretionary income to spend on the materials and tools associated with their preferred crafts and hobbies. Successful marketing will incorporate appeals to the attitudes, emotions, and values they associate with their crafting. Here, we share some insights from the MaritzCX study to help you find the best approach to market to your customers.

The study defined eleven broad categories of crafts:

  • Paper crafts
  • Beads and jewelry
  • Floral crafting
  • Edible arts
  • Wood crafts and home decor
  • Knitting and crochet
  • Needle arts
  • Sewing and fabric
  • Painting and drawing
  • Kids’ crafts
  • Other

Survey participants rated their emotions, values, and affinities about craft participation on a size-point scale from lowest to highest association over a range of keywords, which are highlighted in bold italics*. (Associated marketing concepts are also highlighted.) What emerged was a clear picture of positive associations that manufacturers and retailers can employ to market their products effectively to their intended audience. There’s enough consensus across the craft categories to make some general recommendations, but we will break out specific crafts when the differences are significant.


There’s no doubt crafting makes people feel good, but they give the highest associations to feeling relaxed and proud as they engage in their crafts. That means that crafting is an antidote to the other stresses in their lives, and they are willing to spend both time and money to access that sense of relaxation. In current terms, crafting is a form of self-care, not unlike a pedicure, a massage, or a new set of high thread-count sheets. Product marketing that appeals to a desire for accessible luxury also taps into the high association with relaxation.

The pride crafters feel in their work and the projects they produce suggests that they value the skills they have learned and the appearance and/or utility of their projects. The craft segment mostly highly associated with pride was painting and drawing; the sewing and fabric segment and the knitting and crochet segment gave it the second highest association assignment. Being proud to wear something a crafter has made puts fashion, style, and skill into the mix of positive associations for these craft categories.

We note, too, that the craft category of Edible Arts is an outlier in the survey of emotional associations. Participants in this craft associated it most highly with feeling joyful and excited. Coupling those emotions with food brings celebration to mind as a concept around which to appeal to crafters in this category.


Closely associated with the emotion of pride is the value of accomplishment, which received the highest or second-highest rating across 9 out of 11 craft categories. It’s clear that crafters value the end product of their efforts as well as the process of creating them. Crafting is not merely a pastime such as playing games or assembling jigsaw puzzles – rather, it’s an investment of mental and physical energy around an envisioned result. Crafters are makers, and making is a part of their self-identity. Whether they keep the things they make or give them to others, the association with accomplishment means that they intend their work to have a life beyond its completion. Heritage, memory, and legacy could be ways in which crafters think of their work in relationship to the rest of their lives.

Again, within the survey of values associations, the Edible Arts category stands out. According to participants, they strongly associate Edible Arts with warm relationships, as well as being fun and enjoyable. These are not surprising results, as they track closely with the emotional associations mentioned above. While crafters may engage in any of the craft categories on their own behalf, food, by both quantity and effort, is more likely to be shared or gifted and thus have an impact on relationships in a way the other craft categories do not. As for the fun and enjoyment aspect, eating the end result of a craft project might be more fun than wearing it or looking at it! So although Edible Arts as a craft category is directed toward appearance and presentation, deliciousness, flavor, and taste also matter to these crafters.


As we said earlier, crafting is a segment of the maker culture, and in this way creates a sense of cultural identity for its participants. By realizing that crafters, especially the millennials, see themselves as having as much in common with artisanal food producers (like beer or kombucha brewers) , the Maker Hacks community (such as those who share 3-D printers in their maker spaces), as well as traditional domestic arts, you can reach them by appealing to their affinity associations.

Across craft categories, survey respondents assigned the highest or second highest association rating to the idea that their craft makes them feel special. It is something they do that sets them apart from the general population and shows that they are people who are willing to value time and effort over convenience. Crafting is a way they express their individuality and creativity. It is also something that they strongly associate with missing if it were no longer a part of their lives. That missing has such a high association across craft categories suggest that an opportunity exists to reach out to crafters who used to (engage in a particular craft), reminding them of the enjoyment, fun, and relaxation crafting once brought to their lives. Remembering the pleasure of accomplishment and pride that one craft creates can provide a bridge to expanding a crafter’s repertoire.

Using the positive emotional, value, and affinity associations that crafters cite aligns your brand with the reasons they engage in crafts and need your products and materials. By incorporating these associations into your marketing campaigns such as blog posts, social media posts and e-newsletters you are more likely to reach those emotional touchpoints that are as strong as their practical needs.

*bolded words are directly from the survey or suggested marketing concepts to use in your marketing.

For more information about the 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Report Update and to obtain a copy, visit

Trends in Woodworking: Interview with Mindy Kinsey, Editor of Woodcarving Illustrated magazine and Scrollsaw Woodworking & Crafts magazine


According to the Association For Creative Industries’ (AFCI) 2016 Creative Products Size of the Industry Study, over 28 million United States households participated in wood crafts and home décor. AFCI interviewed Mindy Kinsey, Editor of Woodcarving Illustrated magazine and Scrollsaw Woodworking & Crafts magazine, both published by Fox Chapel Publishing, to discuss the growing consumer interest in woodworking.

AFCI: “The AFCI research has shown that there is growth in participation within the wood crafts/home décor category. Are you seeing this same trend? While participation is growing, the perception is that this category is growing less popular. Do you have any theories on why this may be?”

Kinsey: “We are seeing scroll sawing grow in popularity, especially for making holiday decorations. Carving simple items like spoons and bowls seems to be growing, along with interest in general woodworking for making kitchen utensils and simple home décor. Holiday decorations and ornaments are always popular.”

AFCI: “Fox Chapel Publishing has several publications centered around creative activities using wood. Can you explain the demographic of the readership – gender and age? In addition, would you be able to elaborate on their skill level? Are you seeing more beginners reading your publications?”

Kinsey: “Although our magazines are generally read by intermediate woodworkers, we consider it part of our mission to reach out to beginners. We plan fun, quick, easy projects with detailed step instructions for every issue, so anyone can pick up one of our publications and try woodworking. We hope that those beginners will also be inspired by the more challenging projects and work through the steps to build their skills until they, too, can achieve their crafting goals.

Our readers tend to be older men, but our online audience is fairly evenly split between men and women, and tend to be somewhat younger.”

AFCI: “What trends/innovation are you seeing in this category? Any trends that cross-over in other craft categories like paper crafting, kids, floral, needle arts, paint, etc.?”

Kinsey: “We don’t see much crossover with other crafting categories, with the exception of paint. Many carvers are very skilled painters, while others strive to learn the art of blending paint washes to create lifelike hues. They generally like to let the wood texture and grain show through while adding color and excitement to the piece with artist or craft acrylics, oils, or airbrushed paint, depending on the project and the carver. Scroll saw crafters are split between those who like to let the natural wood shine and those who enjoy adding decorative painting to make their project unique.”

AFCI: “According to our research, people participating in wood crafts/home décor have a high association with feeling proud and a sense of accomplishment. Do you agree?”

Kinsey: “Very much so. Whether we are meeting woodworkers at events or interacting with them via social media, they are delighted to share their projects. Competitions are a big part of woodworking shows, and the carvers, scrollers, turners, and other woodworkers display their ribbons with pride. We have even seen facilities for veterans and senior citizens introduce woodworking classes as a way of giving their attendees meaningful activities.”

AFCI offers its members a wide range of free research studies to gain insight into factors that could affect their business and success! Not a member? Visit to learn more and request information about our current research.