What is the difference between art and craft?


“Rings of Fire: At the Circus”

I subscribe to the American Craft magazine. I always find the work and the articles in the magazine very interesting and inspiring. This past months issue asked a question which traveled throughout the entire issue which I have always wondered about. What is craft? I have wondered about it but this magazine makes the fine line between art and craft even finer.

Craft for me has always been about technique and for lack of a better work craftsman ship. Craft and it’s techniques and concepts are something that are passed on through the ages from family member to family member, from master craftsmen to master craftsmen.

Most of you know that I define art as something unique, original, one of a kind and very personal. Most of the work featured in the magazine is all just that. So what really is the difference between art and craft. I know my work would not be classified as craft? Why? Perhaps because it is flat??? Most of the work in the magazine is 3 dimensional. Or perhaps it is because the concept of craft is more playful? My work is certainly playful.

Some of the answers the magazine got to their question; what is craft? It’s universal, it’s applied creativity, it’s a skill, is is the way a cook handles ingredients, especially vegetables – like working with clay or wood or metal or paper, craft is broad and slippery.

My favorite and the one that makes the line drawn between craft and art is: “ In our 21st century, craft has taken on a new life as a counter virtual ideology, a counterweight to the insipidness of lives spent looking at screen and tapping on keyboards. Once again, people are turning to the demanding work of bringing new things into the world with imagination and skill as a way to forge better lives, only this time, the category of craft has expanded to indicate the presence of individual agency in the creation of anything, regardless of material or technique.” Oh the line is so thin between the two – perhaps we are experiencing the blending between art and craft or perhaps we are experiencing the importance and resurgence of uniqueness, originality and the one of a works with individual agency in work. Yea I say.






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