Better World Arts: About the Makers

Cross Cultural Collaboration

Better World Arts facilitates cross cultural art projects between Aboriginal artists in Australia, and artisans in Kashmir and other parts of Asia. The Aboriginal artists are paid royalties for their designs, and the artisans from remote communities overseas work in conditions that encompass the 10 Principles of Fair Trade, including receiving a fair wage, working in safe conditions, and ensuring there is no child labour or forced labour.

"By developing new and innovative projects, we can continue to distribute generous royalties to artists and support economic sustainability for communities in developing regions."

- Better World Arts

The Process

It Starts with an Artwork

[Image: Artist, Steven Jupurrurla Nelson paints a colourful artwork]

It all begins with a painting by an Aboriginal artist which is chosen because of its design, colour and the ability of the image to translate into a different medium. Some artworks will translate into chainstitch rugs, others look brilliant printed onto fine bone china, and some suit clutches and bags perfectly.

The Art of Chainstitch

[Image: artisans hand-embroidering chainstitch rugs in Kashmir]

Chainstitch is a traditional Kashmiri handicraft and important to the local economy. This work is produced in remote villages in Kashmir and provides important supplementary income between harvests and other rural work. The process of making chainstitch rugs and clutches includes spinning and hand-dying the wool, drawing the design onto the base cloth, embroidering the design by hand and then sewing the final product together after washing the finished embroidered cloth in the nearby stream. The embroidory is done by hand using an 'aari', a sharp hooked tool similar to a crochet hook.

Understanding Royalties

[Image: Artist, Cedric Varcoe paints a brightly coloured blue and black artwork]

Royalties are calculated as a percentage of the total sales for each artist's design. Better World Arts cannot publish the actual figure paid to artists because they have confidential license contracts with the artists, as is the norm with all contracts between any two parties. However the royalties paid are above average for the industry.

Artists receive the royalty payments monthly. On the alternate fortnight of each month the artists receive payment for paintings. The alternation of royalty and painting payments gives the artists a fortnightly income.

Closing the Gap through Artist Royalties

  • It is common for artists to receive more income from their royalties than for the sale of their original artworks
  • Artists are able to nominate family members to receive their royalties after they pass away, enabling their family to have an ongoing income
  • Artists are able to receive an advance on royalties for travelling to visit family, buying a car, food and other necessities. The advance is repaid in small, steady amounts from incoming royalty payments


Better World Arts are members of the Indigenous Art Code.

The purpose of this Code is to establish standards for art dealings between Dealers and Artists to ensure:

(a) fair and ethical trade in Artwork;

(b) transparency in the process of promotion and sale of Artwork; and

(c) that disputes arising under the Code are dealt with efficiently and fairly.

Learn more about the Indigenous Art Code here.

Fair Trade

[Image: artisans hand-embroidering chainstitch rugs in Kashmir]

Better World Arts are members of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, and are endorsed by the Fair Traders of Australia. The latter organisation has audited and assessed the business operations of Better World Arts and deems them to be in line with the 10 Principles of Fair Trade, an internationally recognised standard of Fair Trade.

Better World Arts overseas suppliers are either certified as Fair Traders in their own right, have SEDEX certification or have passed a private audit. In addition to these external certifications, many of the workers involved in the manufacture of Better World Arts products are unionised and use their unions effectively to leverage their rights and conditions as workers.

Shop Better World Arts rugs, clutches, fine bone china products and more here.