Thursday, November 5, 2009

Jargon of the Week - Mainstream

This week I'll look at indie v. mainstream from the mainstream side.

According to, mainstream is:
main⋅stream [meyn-streem]
1. the principal or dominant course, tendency, or trend: the mainstream of American culture.
2. a river having tributaries.

3. belonging to or characteristic of a principal, dominant, or widely accepted group, movement, style, etc.: mainstream Republicans; a mainstream artist.
4. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of jazz falling historically between Dixieland and modern jazz; specifically, swing music. Compare traditional (def. 4).

–verb (used with object)
5. to send into the mainstream; cause to join the main force, group, etc.: to mainstream young people into the labor force.
6. to place (handicapped students) in regular school classes.

–verb (used without object)
7. to join or be placed in the mainstream.

1660–70; main 1 + stream

Specifically in the creative world, mainstream is the contrast to indie. (Indie was last week's Jargon of the Week. Check there for an indepth analysis of indie.) It is using something where another person has made all the design decisions. The creator of the specific item makes an almost identical copy of whatever the initial project was.

Example: Mainstream in the quilting world is buying a kit put together by someone else to make a quilt identical to the one they have already created.

Exception: In my opinion, using a pattern to create a project doesn't make you a mainstream crafter. If you substitue different fabric for a dress or create a different arrangement on an appliqued quilt, you've put yourself into the indie crafter category.

My interpretation of mainstream is that a mainstream crafter is someone who relies on another person to create a project. They surrender all design aspects of the project to the initial creator and rely solely on themselves for the construction.

Note: There isn't anything wrong with being a mainstream crafter. Mainstream projects can be just as enjoyable as creating something solely from one's imagination. Mainstream crafting is a great way to learn new techniques or methods. I do it all the time.

Want a better understanding on the term indie? Check the blog post from October 29, 2009.

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