Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Art v Craft - Bruce DeBoer

Bruce DeBoer is a photographer.
The following article was originally posted to his blog:
Permission to Suck: The Pursuit of Fearless Creativity
What’s the difference between art and craft? Oh … about $1000. How about: Craft comes with instructions and art doesn’t? Or how about: Crafts take skill and art doesn’t need any? Nah - too confrontational.
A good simple definition of art is the manifestation of human emotion through medium. Notice I’m not saying good or great art, just art. Art is a starting point for expression. If you reveal art you are an artist. A child who explores finger paints is an artist – maybe even the purest type.
We all know artists; the most random of thinkers. They are driven to emote. It’s in there and it must come out, no practice required. To practice is to do.
Craft is guided by an external force. Craft’s starting point is void of internal emotional expression. Practice a craft and your skills grow. They are measurable. Honed over a lifetime your mastery can reach great heights. It’s easy to recognize fine craftsmanship because it took great skill to produce.
Art schools teach skills or the craft of communicating emotion. The schools of craftsmanship teach high skill but will also move students toward self expression. It’s as though they are teaching the same thing from opposite ends of a spectrum.
In the middle of the art craft spectrum you’ll find fine art and beautiful craft sitting side by side; indistinguishable over time like paintings of the Dutch masters. Great artists become skilled at communicating their emotions and fine crafts people become emotional expressionists through their medium. It’s the same thing but approached from different directions. Neither is easy. Neither is superior.
To view his work, visit Bruce's website:
To read other articles and essays:


Sonji Hunt said...

Wow. I like the statement of art being driven by something internal and craft being externally driven.

Susie Monday said...

This is one of the better discussions of this issue -- generally I agree that to the market it's irrelevant, but obviously there are legal ramifications that I was not aware of. Thanks for publishing this on your blog.

Gwen Magee (Gwendolyn) said...

Sonji and Susie, I find it so interesting that ours is not the only medium struggling for recognition. Two other excellent articles on this topic have recently been posted - they are written by Charles Lewton-Brain (a master goldsmith) and Mary Sullivan Holdgrafer (a Canadian textile artist).