Folk art is made up of artistic products created predominantly in a rural environment, based on an old and traditional set of patterns and aesthetic criteria. It is kept alive through local traditions.
A foundational characteristic of this form of art is the simplicity of both the materials and form, the recurrence of which results from traditions and patterns that are recognised in the local environment. The artists themselves are not educated in the arts—they create to satisfy emotional and religious needs. That is also the nature of foundational patterns in Polish folk art, which are tied closely to religion and surviving in the world. Therefore, art is also tied to the ritual calendar, feast days, and nature.
Crafts, like pottery, weaving, creating Christmas costumes, lacemaking, and creating fabrics, tapestries, and rugs, are often also considered art, due to their rich ornamentation and aesthetic dimension. Blacksmithing, too, contains many decorative elements, and today it has equally aesthetic and functional roles. Additionally, wooden products bear the hallmarks of art—consider decorated furniture, as well as houses themselves, not to mention utility items like spoons, cradles, and toys.
The relationship between art and the religious ritual year is important; this is demonstrated in items like Christmas tree decorations, ritual bread, house decorations, decorated Easter eggs, St. John’s wreaths, and harvest wreaths.
Today, the status of a folk artist has changed from that of an outcast—an odd or strange individual in the local community—to the position of an important person, earning money in their own way. A folk artist, once underestimated, has become an important and appreciated person. The function of folk art has changed—it has become an artistic and aesthetic element in all environments, and collecting folk art pieces has become fashionable and contributed to the duration and even development of rural artistic production. It is present in Polish homes as an element of decoration, and less commonly as a form of cultural identification. Folk design is an element of a new style in the design of fashion, utility items, and architecture.