Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What is the Difference Between Art and Craft?

Thoughtful Question: What is the difference between Art and Craft?
I invite you to share your thoughts using Comments at the bottom of this post.

If you need some prompting, watch this brief YouTube Video the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN) shared via on Twitter (@walkerartcenter).

What IS the difference between Art and Craft ...?


  1. ART is original and innovative; it is a way of "seeing" - sometimes controversial and thought provoking but always the vision of the maker...true ART is a signature. It is a statement of the maker, the time, and the place on the planet where the ART has been conceived.

    CRAFT as it applies to fine craftsmanship (such as in the making of furniture, baskets, pottery or sculpture as well as film, dance, music or theatre) is also ART if the mark of the maker is apparent and the work is original, thought provoking and innovative.

    However, the ARTS AND CRAFTS of the people, practiced by everyone in all walks of life, seem to be the contemporary way to expose ourselves to creativity. Whether through classes offered by art centers, craft stores or public schools, these encounters with the "what if" aspect of doing things is a good introduction to self expression. The individuals partaking in these don't have to be innovative or original to get in touch with their creative side and come away feeling fulfilled. Afterall, not everyone is a Michelangelo or Picasso!
    But the results of these encounters is just not fine ART or CRAFT; these classes may stimulate young participants enough to want to become fine artists, craftsmen or creative thinking computer programmers and that's dandy. AND when it comes to older folks, ARTS and CRAFTS make them feel young again. Making stuff with their own two hands allows digging in the dirt (by doing clay projects) or playing dress-up (by making jewelry to wear) all of which leads to a pride they thought they were no longer entitled to feel. WOW....
    Barbara Hanselman

  2. I like your definition that "true ART is a signature." And, I think you are saying that true CRAFT is also a signature, with the "mark of the maker apparent." Which sets CRAFT apart from the arts & crafts made by following a formula of how-to-do-it directions.
    Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi differentiates between big-C creativity and little-c creativity. I think we can say there is also big-C CRAFT and little-c craft. Little-c craft is still creative and powerful in its own right.
    As a little-c crafter who has moved into big-C CRAFT, I've had a lot of difficulty verbalizing what I do--which is not ART, but also is not arts & crafts. Thanks, Barbara, for your thoughtful reflection on this.


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Thanks! Mary Catherine Dabrowski