Outsider Craft is the new podcast from the Leathersellers Company and Heritage Crafts member Yusuf Osman, which seeks to rediscover the purpose and meaning of craft, as we navigate our internal world as individuals and the complex issues that we are facing as a society today.
I left behind a legal career in search of a more fulfilling life. A chance weekend workshop introduced me to the world of traditional British leather craftsmanship. Now almost eight years later, I am an established leatherworker at a crossroads. Did I leave behind a conventional career only to follow another conventional path? Is this fulfilling and the life I wanted?
Inspired by the concept of outsider art, I approach the subject with the lens of being from the outside. In different ways and at various points in our lives we can all feel like outsiders. Ironically, feeling different is what unites us all.
What started as a quest for perfecting the art of leathercraft has become a journey where the craft process becomes a means of understanding what it means to be human and, in doing so, uncovering the threads that connect us all. Leather and craft have become vehicles to discuss the nuance of the relationships we have with ourselves, with each other, materials, and the natural world. With the help of my guests, I ask what it means to be a craftsperson in the modern day and how we can use craft to help us define and achieve the lives we want to live.
Anyone can end up feeling like they’re on the outside and my conversations position that as a space where we can grow and find the things that matter to us. I invite guests to join me in this process, those who to some extent feel like they’re approaching craft from the outside. Some of my guests are very established business owners, others are just starting out, but we all share the same philosophy – that craft isn’t something we do, it’s something we are.
The best and most worthwhile conversations are had during moments of adversity; those forks in the road when our emotions and feelings are rawest and authentic. This podcast should feel like you’ve just walked into a very personal and intimate conversation, and I hope it leaves you thinking a little bit deeper about your craft.
Following your passion and turning what you love into work is a constant balancing act. After many years of working alone I realised that craft is not something that exists in a vacuum – it’s the culmination of knowledge passed down making it intrinsically community focused. That’s why it has been fantastic to work with the Leathersellers on this project. It is not something I wanted to work on alone. It’s unusual to share personal parallels with an organisation, particularly their ambition to be open, engaged and responsive to the needs of leather craftspeople and other individuals and communities that they provide grant funding to across the UK.