the crafting of art

I’ve been musing lately on the nature of art and craft.

The lines drawn between art and craft are arbitrary, rooted in systemic racism and misogyny, and ignore the root of both words.

They ignore the fact that there are items of great beauty, expression and emotion that are labelled as craft, and they ignore the skill and understanding required to create great art.

Like most arbitrary lines and binaries, I have exactly zero time for that nonsense.

If you really want to view some of the fuckery that exists along these lines, Key Differences and Difference Between both demonstrate an outstanding lack of understanding of both art and craft – not to mention language. But you don’t have to do that to yourself – I’ve summaries the former below.

  • Art is an unstructured and boundless form of work, that expresses emotions, feelings and vision.
  • Craft is an activity, which involves creation of tangible objects with the use of hands and brain.
  • Art is based on creative merit.
  • Crafts is based on learned skills and technique.
  • Art serves an aesthetic aesthetic purpose.
  • Craft serves a decorative or functional purpose.
  • Art emphasises ideas, feelings and visual qualities.
  • Craft emphasises the right use of tools and materials.
  • Art is difficult.
  • Craft is simple.
  • Art is immediate and intangible – it cannot be recreated.
  • Craft is continuing – it can be recreated as often as required.
  • Art emerges from the heart and soul.
  • Craft emerges from the mind.
  • Art is the result of innate talent.
  • Craft is the result of skill and experience.

Working, for a moment, within the use of art and craft as nouns, I’d argue that art (certainly the things I do that one might call art) meets every criterion in this list. A lot of the characteristics attributed to craft are the mechanics by which we build the art. A lot of the characteristics attributed to either are nonsense.

(If you’d like the full presentation in which I refute each of the delineations and the nonsense therein, I’m happy to provide my schedule of fees.)

But here’s the thing. Craft is a verb. A transitive verb. We craft things. The crafting is the action by which we make the art that you see. We craft a character, a scene, a story. We bring it all together and craft a show. Then you come along and see magic.

I can understand why the myths of innate artistic talent, artists as limitless fonts of creative output who work for passion and not for pay, and art as purely aesthetic are so pervasive. (But can we stop with them now?)

There’s an actor and acting coach out of LA called Marilyn McIntyre who will tell you, among other things, that acting is a verb and an audition is a noun. I reckon the same of true of art and craft.

So yeah, we craft things. One of those things is art.

Fight me.