Not to be confused with the Dwarf Craftguild.
The Empire's reputation for "superior Imperial craftsmanship" is largely borne on the shoulders of the Artisans' Guild. The Artisans’ Guild is an exclusive body of elite artisans who establish and maintain the standards of mastery in a given craft or trade. Long gone are the days of the lone craftsman, toiling over a single job from start to finish. The modern Imperial workshop features a revised distribution of labour, where the crafting process is divided among teams of subordinate tradesmen working under the supervision of a guild artisan.[1a]
Guild artisans see themselves as an elite class rather than mere producers of trade and craft. Guild members gain access to patronage from a higher rank of nobility than unguilded artisans, first rights to the most visible and lucrative contracts, and set important trends that will be followed by many. Surprisingly, admittance to the guild is a rather uncomplicated two-stage affair. However, the application process can be slow without the necessary resources or political connections.[1a]
The prospective artisan must first secure the sponsorship of three active guild members in good standing. Guild members are only permitted to sponsor one applicant per year, so this results in an elaborate courting process in which the prospective artisan is expected to bestow lavish gifts and favours upon his potential sponsors. Of course, most sponsors are well aware of the lucrative benefits of guild membership, and seek to extort the same pay-offs they paid as prospects themselves.[1a]
The second and more difficult requirement for membership is the presentation and judgment of a masterwork representing the artisan's ability. The masterwork is judged by an assembly of artisans who are experts in the applicant's specific craft or trade. If the masterwork is found wanting, the prospective tradesman may only reapply after two years and must completely repeat the sponsorship process. If the assembly accept the masterwork, they present the applicant with his guild ring and welcome him as a new brother.[1a]
It's important to note that the Artisans' Guild is not a trade guild in the traditional sense, and has no financial stake or authority over any other trade or craft guild. The Artisans' Guild is a place where the accomplished masters of craft meet to work, play and debate the important topics of the day. The only commodity traded at the Artisans' Guild is influence.[1a]