What is Craftsy?
Craftsy is an online platform that delivers crafts based education, focusing on subjects like baking, quilting, knitting, paper craft, etc. Courses generally range from $20 – $50 and are taken via an in-browser interface that allows users to access course materials and ask questions of the instructor. Users are also provided with community project forums and special deals on craft supplies.
What does it offer?
I came across Craftsy by accident. I don’t remember exactly how I found the site, but my initial impression was that it held no appeal for me. I never liked ‘arts and crafts’ in school; the smell of paste still gives me a sick feeling in my stomach, as if I just remembered an assignment that’s due tomorrow and I haven’t started working on it.
It wouldn’t surprise me if there are others who have the same reaction when they come across Craftsy. The site has a very Martha Stewart-esque feel about it which almost turned me away. That’s unfortunate, because if you peruse the catalog you’ll find some excellent drawing and painting courses.
Here are some examples:
There are several other courses that are worth purchasing but the instructors from the list above have a couple of things in common: 1) they are all professional working artists and 2) they all teach at smalls art schools (ateliers/studios) with curriculums centered around the fundamentals of drawing and painting. Kerry Dunn teaches at Studio Incamminati, Bennett Vadnais teaches at the Teaching Studios of Art and the Zoll Studio of Fine Art, Roberto Osti teaches at the New York Academy of Art and has written a an anatomy book, and both Edward Minoff and Tony Curanaj teach at the Grand Central Atelier (and host the Suggested Donation podcast).
Before you invest your time, energy and money into any course, book, or school, it’s important to investigate who will be teaching you and what they are capable of. Would you take lessons from the woman who painted this? Of course not. The people at Craftsy seem to understand that and have selected a very skilled and diverse group of instructors. There are definitely courses that I don’t find useful, but that’s not an issue since Craftsy is pay-per-course and not subscription based.
The videos are well produced and the course presentation is excellent. Craftsy has one of the best in-browser video players I’ve seen for this kind of thing. In the player there are tabs for course notes and materials, as well as links to the course projects page where you can post your own work for critique. You can post questions and get a response from the instructor and other students. All of this is accessible on one screen and it is a very fluid experience.
I recommend purchasing Craftsy courses as a supplement to whatever your core curriculum is. They’re more like workshops that cover specific approaches, materials, techniques, or subject matter rather than comprehensive methods for learning fundamentals. If you’re interested, be sure to sign up for their mailing list. They’re constantly having sales, and you’ll be notified when a course you’re interested in taking drops in price.