The regional governments in Spain are responsible for laws and programmes applying to artisans or craftspeople. They offer something called a “Carta de artesano” which you get if you register with them and prove that you are paying taxes. I have avoided participating in this system because it is gravely flawed and it rewards those who spend their days filling out applications, chasing after grants and chatting up the civil servants instead of making instruments or (heaven forbid) working for the guitar community. Also, there is a superior category of artisan (master artisan) and they have refused to honour the most important makers in Granada with that title. How can I aspire to this title if they refuse to give it to Antonio Marín or Manuel Bellido? However, after numerous visits by the guitar-makers association to the relevant offices, they convinced us that we have no power to change this system unless we are registered (as artisans) both as individuals and as an association. So, against my better judgement, I am now registered officially as an artisan. I don’t know yet if they will offer to make me a master artisan just because I have been paying my taxes for 15 years which is the only real requisite. I’m not really bothered as it is meaningless but if it gives us some voice in the laws that govern our activity I will play along.
The funny thing is that all of the older guitar-makers had their carta de artesano at one time or another but those models were deemed inappropriate and no one thought to let them know or automatically send them the new model. Here are three of the old models.