I’ve never been comfortable calling myself an Artist. Artists have obsessions and passions. Art historians analyze the meaning behind an Artist’s work.
Art is also such a big word. There’s currently debate about whether or not virtual reality or video games count as Art, but the same was true when photography and film began to catch the world’s attention.
Then I consider the Craftsman. A potter doesn’t strive to impart meaning in a pot. A potter makes pots. Centuries from now, art historians may bestow historical importance to a pot, but the Craftsman isn’t worried about why he’s making the pot. He’s not trying to change someone’s point-of-view, whereas Art sometimes has such expectations. Jiro dreams of sushi, but he doesn’t analyze his dreams for any subconscious messages.
My simplified idea of a Craftsman aligns more with how I view my work. I used to do a lot of film and visual art. Recently, I haven’t done as much because of school and shifting priorities, but I’ve turned to podcasting and these blog posts (and sometimes coding), so historical data suggests I just like to make things. I try to use a medium that suits the message I’m trying to get across. That’s where my life currently diverges from the Craftsman’s: I don’t have a focus.
At a more fundamental level, result and process differentiate the two. When I view art, my mind immediately races to figure out how it was made and how I would go about achieving the same effect. I’m interested in the Artist’s Craft, their process. I find joy and meaning in the process of making and learning. I don’t really care who sees the final product.
Perhaps I’m still an Apprentice, searching for my one Craft. Or perhaps I’ll always hop from one thing to the next, an eclectic Artist whose only message is to encourage you to create as well.
Craftsmanship has also been fetishized recently, upheld as the pinnacle of how work should be done. Cal Newport has been writing about it for years and published a book about it last year. I’ve also come across arguments that computer science should be practiced as craft. The arguments are pretty strong for why you should consider the Craftsman way to develop your skills, but I’m also wary of people attempting to make boring things sound sexy and glamorous. ↩
Unless it helps you in some way! ↩