Art Vs. Craft
Hear ye, hear ye, court is now in session, the honorable judge You presiding in the case of Art v. Craft…
So, today I thought that I’d start out with an age old debate: the nature of art versus craft. When does craft become art? Can art also be craft? Are art & craft mutually exclusive entities, with no middle ground, no meeting point? This is also a post about the nature of labels & labeling.
Recently I saw a forum post on a site that has added a ‘fine art’ category. Sellers wanted to know exactly what items should be in this category, as many items featured there where not what would normally fit into an art or fine art category & while I won’t go into the answer for the site involved, this sparked a debate on art, craft & labeling an interesting question worth discussing here.
In order to discuss this though, we should first define what we mean by the terms art & craft. For me, a craft seems to be a skill to be mastered & those who have mastered this skill can be termed craftsmen. Art is something that communicates to the world, tells the story the artist envisioned, makes a statement. Craftsmen can be artists, when their craft makes a statement, shares a story with all who see it, whether or not we agree with the statement or want to hear the story. Artists can be craftsmen when their art, their story is told through the use of a skill that has been mastered. I don’t think, as some do, that craft can never be art. If the craft makes the artists statement, then to me, it is art, regardless of the medium used.
This is very similar to the “Is photography art?” argument that pops up, from time to time & place to place. Photography can be art, when it makes the artists statement & it can be documentary in nature, when it documents a time, place, person or event. The document can be art, when it transcends the mere marking of a time, place, person or event, to make a statement, even if the statement is about the beauty of a place, human nature or the nature of an event In other words, photography is a medium & is not inherently art.. Paint is not art, by itself & neither is the act of painting. The artist has to do something with the paint, say something in the act of painting. In this same way, craft (any craft), is not necessarily art but can be a means to art or a medium.
There are no real right or wrong answers here, if there where, this question would have been settled a long time ago, so these are only opinions. What’s your opinion? Is art craft? Can craft be art? Are they completely separate, completely the same or is there a middle ground, where art & craft exist together?
In terms of sites, like Etsy or ArtFire, where labeling is necessary & even a part of the process (think SEO), when should something be labeled art? If a browser is searching for art, what do they expect to see? Is it effective to call something art (or craft), in marketing terms, if it’s not what the end consumer would expect to see when the search results come up, even if the term fits when used in another situation? All interesting questions to think of when listing an item. Regardless of where any of us stand in the “Art v. Craft” debate, it’s best & more effective, to keep the end consumer in mind. If they where looking for your item, what terms do you think they’d use in a search? Would they call it art? Would they say it was green? Or soft? Or vintage? These are the kind of questions to ask, the kind of answers that will help drive customers to your item, keep them looking, maybe even buy, and that’s the best verdict you could hope for! SAM