Oxford English Dictionary, Noun; Artisan “A worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand “.
Words as we know follow fashions and trends like all else in life and the two that I constantly hear bandied about at the moment are ‘Top, Top’ and ‘Artisan’ – technically that’s three words I know – but, as a football and a Liverpool fan ‘Top, Top’ shot into my conscious when Sir Alex Ferguson described Steven Gerrard, in his 2013 Autobiography, as ‘not a top, top player’, which made me bristle a fair bit, as with a maximum of only 198 players on the pitch at any one time in the premier league I would say that anyone securing a regular position in the starting line-up most definitely is a ‘Top, Top’ player, especially when considering the amount of people trying to do exactly that. Having once had a trial at West Ham or Tottenham Hot Spur definitely doesn’t count – did they just have a policy of letting everyone have a go in the ‘80’s?
However, the term ‘Top, Top’ has since become an easy way for pundits, both professional and pub based, to segment the merits of different players and so my question is- will we see the same sort of segmentation for all things labelled ‘Artisan’?
The word’s roots are French from the mid 16th Century and based on the Latin artire, ‘to instruct in the arts’, but in English usage was “often taken as typifying a social class intermediate between property owners and wage labourers’ (OED).
So to be artisanal was an aspiration for the majority of the poor beleaguered work force, as to be employed in a profession that required you to be able to manufacture with a great deal of learning and care in a skilled trade was to really improve your lot in life. No wonder then that in recent years it has become such a popular label in the food industry in order to connote on a product that it is something hand crafted, created with more care and skill than the mass produced, industrial process driven ‘fayre’ that is most commonly retailed. And it really is an industrial process, see Charlie’s article ‘After all a pig is not square’ to understand how they do it.
Labelling a product ‘Artisan’ is now so popular that a quick Google search has revealed that it’s been applied to Domino’s Pizza (who then confusingly say they are not Artisans, but then that actually they might be), Starbucks ‘Breakfast Sandwich’ and Mcdonald’s ‘Artisan Roll’, as well as Gel Nail Polish, Investment Management Services & Injection Moulded Plastics – I kid you not!
And after plastic bankers I doubt there’s a lot left for the term to be applied to, but real Artisans – ‘Top, Top Artisans’ will always be worth searching out as price is what we all pay, value is what we get.