The Artisan System in Ashes of Creation is not being added in as an afterthought as you find in many MMORPGs. Instead, the Gathering, Processing, and Crafting system is being added in as a full fledged game play style. It is completely possible to play as just an Artisan, and not only be successful but also be able to impact the world.
So, first and foremost, for the people who like to do everything on one character, you are going to be disappointed. We already know that you can be a "Jack of all trades or a Master of One"
You will have to decide which of the professions you are going to want to Master.
First off we have Gathering, which is simply the acquisition of raw materials. Unlike other games there is no artificial system such as the labor system for Archeage to limit how much gathering you can do. What will affect how much gathering you can do is the node availability and location. This isn't going to be like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV where you can just find the nodes on a circuit and run around and around all day gathering up thousands of raw materials. First, as I spoke about in the Caravans section, you are limited to how much raw material you can carry at one time. Yes, Gatherer's bags will allow you to expand that inventory a little more, but you are still going to be limited.
Secondly, the resources points are going to be more akin to Eve Online. There is only a finite amount of material in a node. Once it is gone, it is gone. If it does respawn it will be over a course of time, or you may have to go and locate the replacement spawn point and deplete that one before the first one respawns. In fact, you may have to deplete several nodes before your original one respawns. This will severely limit the amount of resources you can gather.
Now, one thing to keep in mind, that it is confirmed that you will be out running around and then presto, you harvest a hostile monster. Maybe you pull on a flower to harvest it and it turns out to be a Fangler. Maybe you are out fishing and you fish up a hostile monster. Maybe that rock pile you hit is actually a small golem. Gatherers beware, the world is full of dangers.
The gathering professions that are 100% confirmed are Fishing, Herbalism, Lumberjacking, and Mining. There are soundbites and quotes out there stating these will exist. It is also a safe bet that Farming will exist based on contextual quotes, and some sort of gathering from Animals (based on Cooking being a known crafting class).
Gathering is going to require tools, so this is going to be a continual and circular business for the Artisan system. Specific tools will be required to do specific harvesting, case in point you won't be gathering Mithril with a Copper Pickaxe. Something that is unique to Ashes is that the Gathering sub-set of the Artisan system will be making its own tools.
Processing in Ashes of Creation is going to be more than just turning raw materials into a useable good, its also going to be deconstructing finished goods back into useable goods. This is very much in line with Eve Online, where a large amount of resources came from scooping loot and salvaging that loot into materials.
Now, again since there is no labor mechanic in the game, you aren't going to be limited by an artificial stat that prevents you from doing work. Instead, you are going to be limited by the transportation of raw materials to your work stations that are capable of processing raw materials into usable goods.
When it comes to Processing, we only have Animal Husbandry Confirmed as a processing profession, but it is pretty safe to say there will be Lumberyard, Smelting, Weaving, and Leather profession based on the confirmed freehold buildings.
Workstations will be available both in Nodes and on Freeholds if you build a specific building, however, some of the higher level crafting stations are only available in Nodes. We also know that the Processing subset is responsible for constructing building from blueprints.
Crafting is also going to require crafting stations, although we do not know specifically what those are going to look like. We aren't 100% sure that every node will have every crafting ability, this will be something that forces Nodes to become specialized.
The known crafting professions are Alchemy, Armor Smith, Cooking, Jewelry, Ship Building, Siege Weapons and Weapon Smithing. Some other possible crafting professions are Inscription/Writing, Cartography, and the Caravan Parts manufacturing.
Now, for people that have been playing RNG based crafting systems, you will be happy to know that there is no RNG in crafting. Everything is receipt based. You get recipes by Questing, From Mob Drops, from breaking down drops (Reverse Engineering), from building certain buildings, from being part of social organizations, by being a mayor. It is more than just visiting a trainer and learning everything. This may also require you to travel the world depending on where certain recipes get unlocked.
Professions will not affect stats, so this is going to allow any Primary Archetype to work on any class without fear of losing out. Ashes Artisans classes do not provide any character stats like Strength, Intelligence, etc.
We have also been told there will be specific gear for the gathering and crafting classes. We are waiting for more information on that.