Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Art vs. Craft

I've been thinking about this lately- what defines Art and what defines Craft? And why the difference? In the past I've often thought of a craft project as something "useful" a pair of mittens or a scarf to wear. Or something "decorative" a card or a wreath. 
Art was something...well...else.

As a kid I was always drawing and painting. I wanted to be an animator when I grew up. I was always the "artist" in the family. My grandmother was "crafty" she knit, she sewed, she did watercolor lampshades, made ornaments, and baked amazing wedding cakes- why was she a crafter and not an an artist?

When I did similar projects with her (or on my own) people said I was "crafting" not making art. Why the difference?

I went on to college (Art School) and I was an "artist"- painting, printing, sculpting, and photographing my way through the world. Then I discovered (and fell in love with) graphic design. Somehow in the eyes of fellow students I wasn't an "artist" anymore I was in "commercial art". No fellow students ever came right out and said design wasn't art (O.K. maybe a few) but everyone "knew it". Sure I was still in the art school but not really making art I was using a computer. (although photography, and Illustration counted as art- not sure why? I think they are commercial arts if design is.)

It was at this point I stopped being an "artist" probably as much in my eyes as everyone else's. It's been a few years shy of a decade since I graduated, but since then I've always been a designer not an artist. Now I suppose as far as a job goes I'm further from making things than ever. I'm a creative director- so I don't even design  anymore I just direct the look that other designers create. Maybe this is why I've felt such a strong need to craft more lately?

Everything I spend my time doing is "commercial"- not art or it's crafting. My family stopped using "artist" as an adjective to describe me, and substituted "crafty" or "creative". I don't mind these words at all (I'm not complaining), I just wonder why the divide between arts and crafts. 

I've done it too- stopped really thinking of myself as an artist, but as crafter. I don't want to sound like I think art is more important than crafts-I don't think that at all. I love being a crafter, and I know it takes artistic talent, creativity, and an interesting way of looking at the world to be an artist or a crafter. I just wonder what makes Art and what makes Craft and why I think of myself as one versus the other.

What do you think- Art vs. craft why the divide? 
Do you think of yourself as an artist or a crafter, or both?

I'm really curious about this- so if you feel like it please pass this on, I'd love to know what other people think.

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