Friday, March 18, 2011
Craft vs Art
I was asked to be part of a research study recently and the focus group session really made me think about what I do. Now I'm beginning to question my craft and ask myself "Is what I do art?"
Just because it's handmade doesn't make something art. But what does? I think my jewelry is beautiful, and I love the organic energy of my embroidered bags. But I didn't start making them as an artistic outlet, per se. I enjoy the artistic qualities of my work, but when I think of art, I don't think of my stuff. I know that I probably can't afford to create "art". What I would consider art is usually created almost entirely from scratch, and hence, the price reflects that investment of time and creativity. But is my work any less artistic simply because I buy my beads and findings? With my denim things, I use something that already exists in one form and re-create it into another, which I think is closer to being pure art, but the functionality of the piece brings it down for that artistic pedistal and forces it into the human realm.
We also discussed the various selling formats for our artistic endeavors, and, again, there's a disparity between those of us who make hand-crafted items and true "art". I can have a pair of earrings listed on Etsy & in a retail location because I can make them again. But a work of art is one of a kind and cannot be reproduced exactly. My bags in this instance are much closer to "art" because each one is created individually and no two will ever be exactly alike. But I still don't think they're art.
But does my work need to be art to be of value? I don't think so. But that just means that I need to find the right venue to showcase my work. I'm not in a position to create a million of each piece so that I can sell them wholesale, and I wouldn't want to even if I could. There is a difference between hand-crafted and home-made. Home-made makes me think of those terrible crocheted vests everyone wore in the 70's. Hand-crafted elevates the process to a near-art form, but still allows for the functionality of the work.
I guess, in my mind, the difference between art and craft is the functionality. Art is beautiful just for the sake of beauty while I would like my things to be loved and used. If I had unlimited resources would I rather be creating works of art? I'm not sure. I do know that I'd make a whole heck of a lot more money selling my things at the Guggenheim than on Etsy :)