Can you imagine being the last industrial/graphic/fashion/interior designer, not just in your town, but in your country? Imagine that design is not being taught anymore and you are literally the last person to possess the skills within your specialty. What would you do? Continue to work on your projects until you're no longer able? Take on an apprentice to pass the skills on?
West-Yorkshire-based Jeremy Atkinson has chosen both options. The designer and fabricator has the distinction of being England's last clog maker, and provides this sobering quote: "People are going 'Oh, you're the expert,' and I'm saying 'No, I'm the only one.'" Thankfully he's got two apprentices—or one-and-a-half, as he jokingly puts it—to pass the skills along to:
It's heartbreaking to hear that he knows his hand is going, and that he's got mere years left to work his trade. But at least he's got those apprentices (the one shown in the video is JoJo Wood, a craftsperson and wooden spoon carver) and an international client base.
Speaking of which, you're probably wondering how Atkinson manages to fit his custom shoes to clients in remote locations. He has clients from afar simply trace their foot on paper, and send it in to him with their shoe size. He then rough-cuts the soles, and ships it back to the client with "simple and easy to follow" fitting instructions. Then the soles are shipped back to Atkinson—the postage is on him—where he brings them to completion with the fitting data.
You can check out Atkinson's offerings here.
The video above was shot by filmmaker Duncan Parker. It's actually the first episode of an ongoing series he's launching called "Tales of Forgotten Crafts." We can't wait to see the rest!