Arts vs. Crafts

This post was migrated from my Lifeblog.

I’m an avid crafter, and I’ve heard that there’s a lot of disdain in the art community for crafters. I admit that I have to laugh a little. See, I could be an artist but I don’t really want to. Why? There’s something in me that balks at creating something whose sole purpose is to be admired from afar. To me, something is so much more beautiful if it has a practical use. Let me explain a little.

First of all, it’s a fine line between the two. Certainly, when imbued with creative energy, crafting becomes an art. Similarly, every art can sink into routine mediocrity, making it a craft (Thomas Kinkade comes to mind, lol). However, there’s one one thing that distinguishes traditional crafts from arts: Crafts have been made into an exact science. So long as you follow the directions, you’ll come out with something acceptable, if not very unique. This lack of originality is what makes artists scoff at crafters. To them, art is something bigger, something containing a piece of the human spirit that created it. I absolutely respect this view — I love art and I think that on the whole it enhances human civilization (though some individual works really make you wonder).

But at heart, I’m a crafter and I think the case for crafting is rather more compelling. See, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that there’s a reason why some ancient pursuits were made into a science and others weren’t: They were useful. What does a painting or a steel-and-glass sculpture do for the basic human needs of food, shelter, and clothing? Not nearly as much as an afghan or sweater.

In other words, the crafts of today are the arts that our ancestors considered so important to their well-being, they formalized them for posterity. From that viewpoint, I think crafting is the more meritorious of the two, don’t you? :)