Art vs. craft, one more time (I promise!).

One of the toughest things about “working” from home is that I just don’t have the same opportunities for random discussions about random things as I once did: such as art vs craft. So I deeply appreciate comments, and I thank everyone who has ever commented on this blog. Every comment means a lot to me.

The comments on art vs. craft have been especially good, because just as a great conversation does, the comments have educated me and changed my thinking.

I started out proclaiming that art is the intentional creation of a new form whereas craft is the honing of existing forms. I no longer think this (thank you, Sam). I now believe that craft can be done to a level where it becomes art (thank you, Sara and Dave).

Dave made a key comment on “intent” though that reframes the idea for me and, as a result, has re-wedded me to it: namely, an artist has to be trying to express something.

Oh, and Bret’s notion that art is not inherently more valuable than craft is also something I believe.

One last point: throughout these posts and comments, I think I’ve been trying to define art in a way that would appeal to everyone, probably an impossible task.

So, where am I netting out after all this? For me personally, the best art begins with great craft. As Dave says about Picasso, you have to know the rules before you can break them and craft is all about rules. When I see a piece of art like Jackson Pollock’s, I like it in the way I might like the way rain water looks rolling down a window in certain light. But both are the result of chance, happy accidents, and I’m too much a product of a culture that rewards real work to consider an accident art. I know Pollock tried for years to paint something people would buy, so, yes, he worked hard. But was he really trying to express something, maybe his frustration? I dunno. What is for certain is that he is famous for one kind of painting (I would argue one painting) and nothing else. Whereas Picasso, after mastering perspective and color, went on the participate in and create whole art movements. The difference: Picasso was a master of his craft and therefore had an arsenal of tools that was up to the abilities of his imagination. He had Craft. And he used it to create Art. And for me, this is the path down which an artist-to-be must travel: craft to art.