Art Vs Crafts – A Debate With a New Twist

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Many say that “craft” is a technique, static, possibly a repeated pattern of steps to achieve an outcome. Let’s pick apart some examples and see what you think.

A leather worker takes repeated, learned, step to build and complete a saddle. During this process he must apply his craft of leather tooling skills to imprint the saddle. In his mind he’s created a design using most likely a predetermined style method for his tooling. Once done, he’s completed a saddle which has been “crafted” by hand.

What about the leather tooling separate from the saddle base? It was designed, drawn and implemented by this craftsman using his imagination and acquired skills. Ultimately he has created a piece of “ art “. Is he a craftsman or an artist? Could he be both?

If some describe crafts as a technique which has been in application for centuries then by all rights the leatherworker should be classified as a craftsman correct? But if “ art ” is a personal creative expression, what classification do we give his leather tooling? It can’t be both could it?

Let’s throw in a monkey wrench for fun. Suppose this saddle was the most beautiful, magnificent saddle anyone has seen. It’s put into a gallery for sale and purchased by someone knowing nothing about horses, or saddles nor wants to. Assumedly it was purchased as “ art ” to be displayed amongst his collection. The following week the owner of the saddle invites his friends over for cocktails and show off his new purchase. As friends view the saddle one says “…wow, you really have to appreciate that craft.” Another says ” Now that’s what I call a real piece of  art “. Yet another says “…what the heck are you going to do with that?”

The ability of repairing jewelry is a craft. If a jeweler starts designing jewelry and applies techniques centuries old to his crafts to achieve an outstanding and notable design or style, is it still a craft or has the jeweler become an artist because the jeweler brought thought, expression and emotion to the piece while creating it?

A monkey splashes various paint colors onto a canvas. The monkey has a great sales person who takes this work to a gallery. It sells for thousands of dollars because it’s been presented as “ art “. Come on, is this considered intent, emotion or expression or is this the greatest sales person you met? Please… don’t get me started on the monkey and his possible emotions.

If someone is able to sell what they produce or “crafted” does it make them an artist? Maybe.

The word “ art ” does hold a bit more credibility than “craft”. We’ve all seen it while attending “craft shows” vs. “ art ” shows. Seems the “ art ” shows serve wine and cheese and demand higher end priced items. Craft shows are where granny sells her crocheted toilet paper roll covers, you know the one with the half Barbie doll on top of it? Or, where you see all those wooden country craft signs that say something cute and corny on them. Won’t find any of those at a “ Art ” show.

So where does the word “Artisan” come into this equation? According to the

Merriam Webster dictionary an “Artisan” is defined as:

1: a worker who practices a trade or handicraft: craftsperson

2 : one that produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods

Ah oh, wine and cheese? Sounds like this belongs in the “ art ” category.

According to Wikipedia;

An artisan, also called a craftsman, is a skilled manual worker who uses tools and machinery in a particular craft.

I’m presuming assembly line workers can be called “artisans”? Let’s not forget “artisan” bread. Is baking bread a craft or an  art ? As much as I love it I’d say baking bread is an “ art “.

Millicentrogers describes an Artisan as; “a person skilled in an  art  or craft.” This one I like, no bias shown here.

What’s my objective of this article? It’s done with the hopes that people start thinking differently. A craft maybe an expression of  art . Being an artist, is a craft. You must have the ability to craft something to be an artist. The old cliché “ Art  is in the eye of the beholder” stands true. Whether you’re into crafting or you’re an artist, you are here to communicate your skills and hopefully someone will appreciate your creations.


Source by Julie Teeples

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