The Maker, the Buyer, and the User

As a creator (in my case, of designs, artwork, furniture and writing primarily), it is necessary to understand to whom one is accountable.

The maker doesn’t want it, the buyer doesn’t use it, and the user doesn’t know they’re using it. What is the object?

This classic riddle illustrates the difference between three types of people: makers, buyers, and users.

If you are a professional, the number one person you must satisfy is the buyer. It is their needs that you are responsible for fulfilling. Whether they have hired you, your company or your boss’ company is irrelevant. If you are unable to provide a product or service that is of value to them, you will likely find yourself out of work rather quickly.

If you create for yourself, you are the maker, the buyer and the user. You are accountable to yourself. What you do and what you make needs to satisfy your own needs before anybody else’s.

This means that you don’t have to, and should not, do things in a way that is not aligned with your way of working. This doesn’t mean that you should not try new things or listen to other people, rather you should not do things just because somebody thinks you ought to – especially if they are not invested in your work.

When you free yourself from the expectations of the world, I trust that you will find the creative process easier, more enjoyable, and more rewarding.

Be bold. Challenge yourself. Learn.

2 thoughts on “The Maker, the Buyer, and the User

  1. Very interesting subject.
    I think that if you make things like YOU think it should be made, and you can hold up a high standard, there is a greater chance of creating something truly beautiful compared to if someone else asks you to make something.
    Because you will put so much more of your “soul” into the creation it will almost inevitably pay off in better showing the essence of the creator.

    For instance, I think that one of the reasons why George Nakashimas works are considered pieces of art today is because he made them like he felt they should be made. If someone were interested in buying them later on was probably just a bonus to him. I doubt that he would have made a masterpiece if someone had asked him to make a Shaker inspired rocker. Surely it would have been a nice chair, but not as daring and spectacular as what he luckily ended up making.


    1. Hi Jonas,

      I generally agree with your comment as long as the maker in question has a a design sense that is better than the buyer. I don’t think that’s always the case.

      On the other hand, I don’t think that somebody other than the maker can put “soul” into a piece if they are given strict guidelines. If you take away the creativity and intuitive freedom, you lose all soul.

      That said, I will also share two ideas that run counter to this.

      1. In The Unknown Craftsman, the author talks about bowls made in a production environment at a skill level so high, they are beautiful without even trying to make them beautiful. Yet, when talented and capable people try to replicate a bowl, they cannot capture the spirit of the bowl simply because they are trying to replicate it. I suppose that a similar comparison could be made by original paintings and high quality prints.

      2. I saw an article a couple of months ago about a robot that painted artwork, and rather than being programmed to put this colour here and this colour there, it continuously analysed the canvas and made decisions based on the current state of the painting.


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