Podcast Episode #86: Diane Gilleland

Diane Gilleland on the Crafty Planner podcast

The craft industry can lend itself to an unexpected romanticism. As hobbyists, there is an excitement over new notions, fabric/yarn, patterns, designers and more. Once a part of the industry, there are other realities related to the desire for “free content”, prevailing practices of paying for work with promises of “exposure” and what customers/hobbyists/consumers have now been accustomed/entitled to.

Today’s podcast episode explores these topics through the experience and observations of Diane Gilleland of Crafty Pod. From the outside looking in, Diane has every measure of success. She has written three books, collaborated with crafty companies, taught and demonstrated at trade shows, produced a well written and read blog along with being one of the early craft podcasting pioneers. As we begin to explore her history and the lingering question of why she left the industry, we cover topics like the definition of success, handing the personal connection to your work and saying thank you. This is a raw and emotional episode meant to be thought provoking so a kind response would be appreciated.

Notes from the Show:

Crafty Pod


Garth Johnson

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Comments 18

  1. It’s so awesome to hear from Sister Diane again – I miss CraftyPod, but I know people gotta make a living. I think she’s pretty spot-on in her comments on the State of the Craft Union, as well. Nothing but approval and support over here. I’m glad she’s getting excited about something creative again!

  2. This episode really struck a cord with me. I to moved from hobbiest to quilt store owner and after giving 100% of everything I had (emotionally and financially) for almost 5 years I gave it all up. The struggle is real!! Everything thing Diane mentioned about the reality of being in the industry spoke to me – her story could be my story. It was an eye opening experience, one that I learned SO much from, but also one that I’m glad I mustered the courage to walk away from.

    I now enjoy working a 40 hours a week job, with medical benefits, vacation time and a steady paycheck and I also enjoy sewing again.

    Thanks for talking about the ‘dark-side’ of our industry. Diane you have nothing but my deepest respect- Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. This is my retirement hobby, and it is a privilege. In terms of finances, there was never much riding on it, but there is for a lot of people. I couldn’t do it before I gained the maturity, vision and experience necessary to understand what a privilege it is, and that experience was gained by working! It’s almost like crafting is better as a retirement hobby for the seasoned individual than as a failed attempt at a career by a person who had a lot to learn. That comment wasn’t directed at anyone specifically. I just see a lot of people who could be better prepared if this is really what they want to do. Thank you, as usual, for the great podcast!

  4. Can I just say publicly, that without Diane, I would not be doing the honest writing I’m working on right now? She taught me everything important I know to be a reasonable human being on social media, and has been a pioneer in so many things. Including leaving. I wish we weren’t so concerned with making people mad. I suppose I should introduce myself, because I haven’t here before. My name is Kirsten, and I met Diane through a defunct Etsy sponsored program that I helped found called I Heart Art Portland in 2009. Our mission was to provide classes and events to teach artists to learn the business side of being an artist or craftsperson. Diane was one of our first season of teachers, and friend to us (and especially me) learning how to reach out through social media platforms. See how professional I sound? That’s part of what I learned from Diane (please don’t kill me). We have managed to be friends and have some of those real backroom conversations about what it is really like to be self-employed in this industry, and later about being exhausted and jaded.

    A path is a path, and leading the way means you have no map to follow. I’m super glad to hear about this here in a form I can share, because it seems to me that more people than you think need to hear this. That last part? About people so so sad you are leaving talking about you in the third person? I’ve been there too. And I’ll say the thing that I felt when I’ve been in the exact same place: yes, it feels terrible. Why? Because it feels especially lame coming from people who didn’t actually do anything to support your business. How long are you expected to keep doing a thing that you no longer feel like doing? As an artist, you are evolving, growing, exploring constantly; even when you aren’t producing anything that you might consider art. To most of the public not doing these things, they have a vested interest in you keeping on doing the same thing forever, because that is all they know. It is a leap of faith to trust in the person whose work you love to create a thing you never thought of, and you will probably love that too. Or not. It doesn’t matter. As artists we are compelled to make things whether there is anyone around to appreciate it. Thank you Diane for everything. You are awesome.

  5. It was so nice to hear Sister Diane’s thoughtful take on crafty issues once again. I still think about some of her podcast episodes, particularly her thoughts on copyright. Thank you both!

  6. I’ve been listening to your podcast for a few months. This is the first one that I’ve thought about long afterwards. Kind of different hearing about the dark side of the crafting industry. I enjoyed your conversation with Diane.

  7. This conversation was so excellent & real & about a topic I discussed a bit with Diane when I was a guest on her podcast. We talked about expectations of success & disappointment in the maker world, even after you achieve what you thought was your goal. I took a podcasting class from her & even had my own interview show on local access TV for 2 years after that which I also made available as a podcast. I was very much influenced by Craftypod. I saw my show as an opportunity to shine a light on makers I thought were amazing that I wasn’t sure everyone had heard about yet. When Diane shifted gears away from the craft world I was sad she was leaving but glad she was being true to herself. After watching so many people I know try to make a living in every aspect of maker life, I knew how rare it was to actually earn a living wage without burning out. When my parents started needing more help as they aged, I started cutting back on my craft show schedule, I pulled out of shops. I think though I didn’t plan it that way, I needed the break. I really felt lost, though. Even though I wasn’t making a living before & I don’t have what it takes, the stamina, the drive, to increase my output to make it work. I totally know what Diane meant when she said she let go of something she thought would be a forever part and I cried along with you at your moment 🙂 As I watch my lifelong dream of making things and selling them dial back a notch, I too am reclaiming the joy of making. I spent a few years learning to sew & just making things for myself & for gifts. There’s a part of me that wonders if I can monetize my new skills & a part that wonders if that will ruin sewing for me. Anyway, great podcast. I love you, Diane, thanks for everything, (including teaching me EPP through your excellent book!) and boy do I wish you every happiness.

  8. As someone who makes less than a subsistence living as a freelance musician, this interview really hit home. Diane and Sandi, thank you for your honesty. I’m married to a dude with a steady income and we have two kids to take care of, so I’m lucky my career choice has not made me destitute, but I’m on the brink of changing direction so I can find a job that is less emotionally exhausting (I teach, accompany and work with a lot of adolescents and college students and it is DRAINING), that will pay more than a pittance, and come with health insurance. My whole life I thought that was too much to ask, and now I’m finally starting to rethink it. I’m not ready to let go because, like Diane said, I’m not ready to leave behind what has defined my identity for so long. But I might have to in the interest of self-respect and independence. (Maybe. Jobs are hard to find.)

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  10. Thank you, thank you both for this. Diane, your voice on this issue is of paramount importance, and I thank you for coming forward to share this experience. I came into the craft movement at that same dazzling time, and have been so disillusioned by the constant race to the bottom that so tragically drives the handmade industry. Beyond that, I moved to pdx in 2008 thinking it was a Mecca of handmade, that it would be a place to come together as a movement of valuing each other and our passions, of using our creativity to drive social change… but only discovered that it was more of a place of concentrated compromise, competition for the lowest reward, and real economical struggle. Your interview bolstered my own sense of unwillingness to compromise and my continued stand for the possibility of fulfilling lives for creative hearts.
    I felt so validated by your story, and I wish you unfettered growth, gentle healing, and vigorous energy in delving into what delights you.

  11. Thank you so much for this! Love, love hearing Diane again. As someone that was “around” during the same time she was I relate to so much of what she said. Great interview. And yes I was shaking my head… she deserves many, many kudos for her hard work.

  12. Okay, I just listened to the podcast, and I wept. I wasn’t familiar with Diane’s podcast, but I really appreciated the open and honest conversation. Thanks so much for this!

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  14. This is such a thought provoking and challenging conversation. I’m so glad I listened to it. It makes me question my approach – why do I do what I do? What are my intentions? Why do I want what I want? And what do I actually want? Really and truly… And it makes me realise how I need to value what I do, because if I don’t, no one else will. Thanks for another great podcast. I love my work days even more because I get to listen to these and I feel like they enrich my craft business approach even more 🙂

  15. …What a moving podcast. Wishing Diane all kinds of success. And thank you both for your honesty and courage to show vulnerability. Whilst listening to these wonderful and inspiring podcasts, more than once, I have wondered about the compromises that perhaps many had to make for the sake of their creative careers, visions and basic needs. Other people’s success is always motivating, but the truth behind it is just as valuable, and this podcast spoke to me about it. Living in the UK, and being new to the makers’ world, I didn’t know about Craftypod, so thank you for giving me a chance to explore such a gem. x

  16. This episode was wonderful. I hope that we can come to a place where the hard work of crafters and artists is valued in more meaningful ways.

    I somehow missed out on Diane’s podcasts, but I just picked up a copy of her book All Points Patchwork and was blown away by how comprehensive and wonderfully written it is. Thank you for putting this wonderful episode out there, and thank you Diane, for enriching our craft community.

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