is it real? or is it memorex?

May 07, 2014


Remember that commercial?
Those are the words that came to mind while pondering Veronica's "Art vs Craft" post today. A bit of back story ... I cyber-met Veronica during my transformational web course, You On Purpose, last February and have been following her art and words ever since ...  so it was with a bit of trepidation that I clicked on the link to see what she might have to say about this oh! so! tender subject. [and if you don't believe me google "art vs craft" and choke on the 74,000,000+ results]

Because you see, if you happen to be involved in the Art World in any way, shape or form, eventually you WILL be asked if what you do is art or craft. And coming from the mixed media background ...and let's not even talk about assemblage... your materials are very close to what so-called crafters or makers use. And not only will you be questioned on Art vs Craft, you will be grilled on where you stand ... can craft be art? What's the difference between art and craft? Is there a difference between art and craft? Until you simply want to strangle someone. And preferably, the person doing the asking.

You would think, given my fairly opinionated nature, that I would have a well-developed answer for any or all of those questions. But you'd be wrong. I used to think the differentiater was based on usage ... if you used the object? Craft! Purely decorative? Art! Ahhhh! Life was so easy back then. Until someone pointed out that if that "craft" goblet was put on a pedestal and simply viewed was it still craft? Or had it become art?! ARGH!! Back to the drawing board. But not before clocking said person in the head with that crafty art cup!

I contemplated the idea that repetitive creation might result in craft not art. Then again, I see many artists reproducing similar themes over and over and their product remains firmly in the art not craft sector. And certainly I'd be hard pressed to call giclee prints "art" even though I'd piss off many artists by even hinting at the idea that these reproductions might come closer to craft than art. Hooboy. Did I just say that out loud?!?


I know there is a commonly held belief that "All art is craft but not all craft is art" relying on intent rather than final product to make the distinction. But one can just as easily make a cup with loaded intention as one can paint a canvas for no more reason than to make a pretty picture.  And frankly? I'm not sure there is anything to gain by trying to separate the two. To what end? [Insert giant wail, "Why can't we all just get alonggggggggg?!?!?" here!]  All we do by trying to lessen one vs the other ... and let's face it craft usually gets the short end of the stick here ... is put up road blocks to the very act of creating. And really, isn't that what it's all about anyway? To honour someone or something. To work out a problem or deal with a situation or emotion by making something tangible and concrete?

So. Stop worrying about whether what you do is Art or Craft.
And get busy making your popsicle stick masterpiece.
Because the pundits are gonna be arguing whether it's Art or it's Craft until the cows come home.
And WE have stuff to create!

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7 comments

  1. always such a loaded question. Great post Jen. It seems to me that there are a lot of artists out there who would do well if they learned their craft. You know what I mean? A lot of fundamentals seem to be missing. And there's so much craft out there that I have a ton of respect for. And there's ton of craft and a ton of art that makes me go "meh". But I've been feeling jaded lately, so I may not be in the right frame of mind for this discussion. ha!

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    1. I totally get what you mean Bri! I also get how feeling jaded can colour *all* our experiences. And it ain't fun. Personally I've been pondering on fabric and natural dyeing and how that can be incorporated into my own work. I know that once you're feeling better you'll bounce back. Trust in the process. xo

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  2. Yes, super great post!
    (I loved that commercial btw)
    Let's just create. Which I need to do - haven't been to the pottery room in weeks. Arghh! Hopefully this weekend.

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    1. Thanks Carol. I'd totally forgotten about that specific one. Gotta love google images for jogging the ol' memory. And don't stay away from creating too long. You know what they say, "All work and no play makes Carol a cranky girl!" ;)

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    2. Carol was a bit cranky, but the husband scrubbing stuff made her uncranky for a bit! ;)

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  3. I think giclees are reproductions of art. Neither craft or art per se. They are a better quality of print usually used by artists, especially fine artists, rather than crafters. :) I don't think there is an objective distinction that can clearly be made between art and craft because much of art is subjective. That said, I think craft is the ashtray you made in the third grade for your grandmother, unless you are a finecrafter and then it becomes a different world, one that resembles fine art or is an art in and unto itself or even crosses that line that distinguishes them from each other, or it can even obliterate the distinction. I think it becomes are art when it speaks to my soul as well as interests or delights my eye. Often people base the distinction of what is art and what is craft on quality and that is a mistake. I have seen art that lacked all quality and was neither art nor craft but a mess and a waste of the materials used to create it (did I just say that outloud?). You can't look to the materials. They are often the same. i.e. There are quilts and then there are art quilts. Most of know the difference just by looking by why one is art and one is craft varies so much in the particulars that I think it defies a clear, concise, definition that fits all works at all times. I think one should look to the intent of the person doing the creating. Do they consider their work "art" or "craft". Then, if the quality isn't there you can just put into a third category, which I call "creative attempt". I think all creativity should be encouraged and no one should put down another person's creativity. I think cooking is an art, for example, and many a fine cook has looked at one of my creations and said they wished they were an artist and I think they already are. My husband would agree with that.



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    1. haha ... by no means was I trying to call giclees craft only that *if* one defined Craft as repetitive works (vs one off ) then any reproduction by that logic could be "craft". I have a whole other bone to pick with giclees since it is the digital operator that becomes the artist (or crafts person) in that scenario. But I'll let that lie. ;)

      I hear what you are saying re: knowing when you see it ... only I'm finding the older I get, the more difficult it is for me to say, "yes!" this is art or more frequently, "no. this is not art" ... and frankly, craft is just left out in the cold. I know many traditional artists look at my work and say, "that is not art" and truly, who am I to argue? it isn't craft either. so maybe it's just junk. lol

      I like your definition of something becoming art when it speaks to your soul as well as delighting your eye. and keeps the argument in the realm of personal taste.

      thanks for weighing in Lisa!

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