Okay so between my artistic ignorance and my excitement at trying new creative tasks, I realize I’ve been using the word “art” and “craft” interchangeably.
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking ‘so what?’ But if you have more experience with art or craft, you’re probably thinking ‘DUH’. Apparently it’s something that’s been debated between artists and craftspeople for years. And yes, craftspeople is an actual word.
A quick Google search of “difference between art and craft” will give you over 4 million hits of people giving their two cents about the difference. Four million hits. Four million hits about two words that, up until two days ago, I assumed were the same thing.
From my understanding, the main difference between art and craft is that art is more ambiguous and emotionally expressive, while craft is tangible and involves putting materials together for a specific outcome. Art includes paintings and drawings, and craft includes jewellery and pottery.
Bernard Katz is an American glass designer and sculptor who has a particular interest in the difference between art and craft. As an experienced craftsperson, Katz says that craft is about the mastering of a skill.
In his blog, Katz says that craft is about the execution of a technique to produce a perfect product, while art is more focused on a concept rather than the product. Katz says that fine art sometimes produces a poor product because of the focus on concept and disregard for executional technique, while craft always produces a perfect result due to the perfected technique.
Here is a link to Katz’s three-part blog post about craft vs. art for anyone who’s interested: http://bernardkatz.com/when-craft-becomes-art/
Margot Lanoue, an American art consultant, argues that although craft is functional, at the end of the day, it is simply a perfect product. Craft doesn’t illicit an emotional response and there is no underlying meaning in the final product. According to Lanoue, craft is simply an object, whereas art has a deeper value beyond its function. When it comes to art, the importance isn’t in the final product itself, but in the reaction and meaning behind the product.
Here is a link to Lanoue’s full attempt at answering the difference between art vs. craft: https://www.quora.com/Fine-art-versus-craft-is-there-a-difference
These are only two opinions out of the 4 million Google hits, but I think they’re both reasonable opinions. I think they both have a point, and I can understand where they’re both coming from. I think the main thing to get out of this debate is what do YOU want from your creative task? Do you want to express something and elicit emotion in others? Or do you want to master a skill and produce the most perfect product possible?
I think for me, the best part about this is that you can do both. Maybe in one task my goal will be to elicit an emotional response, and maybe in the next it’ll be to have a perfect product. I don’t think I’m anywhere close to doing either of these in my creative tasks, but it does put things into perspective in terms of goals and outcomes.
Last night my best friend and I made sock puppets in an attempt to produce craft over art in the most mature way possible. I’m not sure these would be considered either seeing as we haven’t mastered the sock puppet making skill (although it’s been added to the to-do list now), and they don’t elicit any emotional response, but we had fun. And so did our puppets. They had a snack, took a shower, had a quick power nap, and then settled down to watch the Jets beat the Leafs 4-2.
Yes, my best friend and I are both adults.