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#1
Old 08-22-2011, 09:03 AM
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What is the difference between an Artisan and a Craftsman?

Friends will tell me that I'm an artist. This is because they are my friends and are perhaps slightly biased. I always counter that with no, I'm a craftsman. Then I jokingly tell them it's because I didn't go to art school. Still, I feel uncomfortable calling myself an artist and I'm not sure why. If I had a clearly defined definition of the difference. . ..

What, to you, is the difference between an artisan and a craftsman?
#2
Old 08-22-2011, 09:24 AM
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I'll take a shot at it. If a person takes a some wood, tools and set of instructions and creates a beautiful chair, that person is a craftsperson. The person who creates the instructions (and design of the chair) is an artist.
#3
Old 08-22-2011, 09:33 AM
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To me the difference between a craftsman and an artist is whether they make things (craftsman) or create things (artist). I see making things as looking at something or plans for something and being able to produce a fairly good facsimilie of that item. I see creating things as being able to come up with that item from scratch or looking at an item and changing it in such a way that it becomes something more than it was before.

I consider myself a craftsman but I know people who do the same kinds of things I do that I consider artists.
#4
Old 08-22-2011, 09:42 AM
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300% markup.
#5
Old 08-22-2011, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
300% markup.
Then I must surely learn how to be an artisan!
#6
Old 08-22-2011, 09:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Biggirl View Post
Then I must surely learn how to be an artisan!
An artisan is a crafstman--at least as I've ever heard the word being used. You're asking about the difference between an artist and a craftsman.
#7
Old 08-22-2011, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
An artisan is a crafstman--at least as I've ever heard the word being used. You're asking about the difference between an artist and a craftsman.
So, what is the difference between an artist and a craftsman?
#8
Old 08-22-2011, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggirl View Post
So, what is the difference between an artist and a craftsman?
If they were trained in Italy (or by and Italian) or somewhere else?

I think it's just a label some people give themselves.

Last edited by Joey P; 08-22-2011 at 09:59 AM.
#9
Old 08-22-2011, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
An artisan is a crafstman--at least as I've ever heard the word being used. You're asking about the difference between an artist and a craftsman.
No way to argue with this post.

So the question is:

are you an artist or are your friends lying (but loyal) bastards.

Show us the evidence.
#10
Old 08-22-2011, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Biggirl View Post
So, what is the difference between an artist and a craftsman?
Here's the first definition for artist that I found:
One, such as a painter, sculptor, or writer, who is able by virtue of imagination and talent or skill to create works of aesthetic value, especially in the fine arts.

and here's a definition for craftsman:
A man who practices a craft with great skill.

So from a strictly definitional point of view I think they're pretty similar with the caveat that the craftsman definition requires skill but not imagination. (Although some could argue that in order to be skilled at most crafts, you must be imaginative so, eye of the beholder and all that.)

Me, I'd use craftsman to refer to people who make beautiful functional pieces like a beautiful chair or rug or clay pot while an artist makes beautiful things that don't necessarily have a purpose beyond hanging on the wall or decorating an end table. But I don't see them as exclusive and a craftsman can certainly be an artist and vice versa.
#11
Old 08-22-2011, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by don't ask View Post
No way to argue with this post.

So the question is:

are you an artist or are your friends lying (but loyal) bastards.

Show us the evidence.
I have linked to my Etsy in the Marketplace. I'm not absolutely sure that it isn't against the rules to link to it in Cafe Society, since it's a site that sells things. Would a link to the Marketplace thread be against the rules? Hmmmm.
#12
Old 08-22-2011, 11:10 AM
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An old saying goes:

A laborer is one who works with his hands.
A craftsman is one who works with his hands and his mind.
An artist is one who works with his hands, mind and soul.

Of course, another old belief is that artists were all homosexuals who created art out of frustration at their inabilites to give birth, and women's hormones made them incapable of anything better than second-rate imitations of men's accomplishments.

Gruesome, but now replaced with the Andy Warhol belief, followed by Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, which holds that creativity and craftsmanship is stupid, and art is just a business model to capture the highest level of market share.
#13
Old 08-22-2011, 11:59 AM
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I would say that an artist intends to make something that is beautiful and original, while a craftsman intends to make something useful. This is not to say that something beautiful and original cannot also be useful, or that something useful cannot also be beautiful and original, rather it is the intent that matters. For example, if someone builds a chair thinking, 'This would look incredible in an art-deco foyer, and I suppose people could sit on it.' that person is an artist. If someone builds a chair thinking, 'This is going to be one comfortable chair, and it looks nice, too,' that person is a craftsman.
#14
Old 08-23-2011, 08:13 PM
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When referring to what I produce, I use "art" and "craft" interchangeably. I tend to call myself as a crafter because saying I'm an artist may come across as pretentious to some people. But I acknowledge that I am both. I think people have needlessly imbued special significance to "art". A crafter is an artist. But an artist is not necessarily a crafter.

Not to say it's not complicated when you think about it too hard. If I simply refurbished an old flower pot, fixing the cracks in it and cleaning it so that it looked brand new, then it's kind of hard to say that I'm an artist rather than just a "fixer-upper". However, if I take an old flower pot and turn it into something totally different, while still maintaining its function, then it is more clear that I am an artistic crafter*. If I take an old flower pot and install it on a wall with a dead cactus in it, then I am most certainly an artist. But not a crafter. I would say that the functional aspect of the artwork makes it craftwork. But that's it.

But even still, I think "functional" is defined by the individual. F'instance, I take soup cans and glass jars and beautify (or weirdify) them. You can use them for a number of purposes. Holding pens or loose change. Floral containers or flower pots. Or you can just put them on a coffee table and stare at them until you go crazy. Just because they can be functional does not mean they have to be functional. They are whatever the consumer wants them to be. After all, I can scan a Picasso work to decorate paper napkins with. Does that reduce the quality of the work? Does it make it not art? And I can take a quilt and hang it up on the wall, transforming it into the nebulous category of "folk art". We sometimes make things harder than they have to be, with all these words.

You are an artist, Biggirl. You don't have to have a college degree or be a professional to be an artist.


*A non-artistic crafter would be someone building a model using directions, or someone who simply reproduces something that they themselves did not design or create. An architect is an artist. The contractor who's following his blueprints is not.

Last edited by monstro; 08-23-2011 at 08:14 PM.
#15
Old 08-23-2011, 08:37 PM
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An artist creates a chair that's enjoyable to look at.

A craftsman creates a chair that's enjoyable to sit in.

The two terms are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
#16
Old 08-23-2011, 09:01 PM
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Artists create. Craftsmen perfect.

ETA: The two are not mutually exclusive.

Last edited by kunilou; 08-23-2011 at 09:02 PM.
#17
Old 08-23-2011, 09:16 PM
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One is named by a French word which makes it sound more distinguished, thereby allowing him to charge more for his goods. This because a fair number of people with too much money and a desire to be seen as sophisticated are quite willing to buy overpriced status-raising goods.

"Artisan" is just French for "craftman". The use of distinctly French words, especially when the French pronounciation is somewhat retained, is often an effective marketing technique to give people the impression that something is better than it is. Beware when you hear that.


"Artisan" can also refer to people using old techniques to make a good in smaller quantities than their competitors.
#18
Old 08-23-2011, 09:17 PM
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I'm an artist.

Because I decided to be one.
(Yeah, there was some work involved. But, mostly, it was a conscious decision. Made a huge difference in the way I viewed myself and the standards I held myself to...and how much I could charge to do a logo for a friend of the family).

So... are you an artist?
It's your call.
#19
Old 08-23-2011, 10:43 PM
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I'm going to somewhat repeat what other people have said here, but I'll do it anyway!

An artist creates the form, a crafter creates the function. They are not mutually exclusive.
#20
Old 08-23-2011, 10:50 PM
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I always thought of an artisan as a skilled laborer like a carpenter, machinist or blacksmith.
#21
Old 08-23-2011, 10:54 PM
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One possible definition for me is that an artist makes things for their own sake (no utility, no useful purpose), while a craftsman makes something that has utility and function. Although that may be more the distinction between "fine art" and "decorative art."
#22
Old 08-23-2011, 11:42 PM
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One is a house and the other is a type of bread.

#23
Old 08-24-2011, 12:24 AM
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Don't forget the tools!
#24
Old 08-24-2011, 01:54 AM
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Hmm, I seem to differ from a lot of people in that I wouldn't necessarily say that a craftsman makes something of utility. To me, craftsman implies just the act of creation, and doesn't speak to any kind of use of the end result, just that the act of creation requires ability beyond simple labour. An artisan on the other hand necessarily includes that intent behind a creation, as well as being the originator of that intent.
#25
Old 08-24-2011, 07:36 AM
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An artist is a craftsman who crafts art.
#26
Old 08-24-2011, 07:50 AM
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Why do you folks keep talking about artists? Big asked for the difference between an artisan and a craftman, not an artist and a craftman. Artisan=artist?

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 08-24-2011 at 07:50 AM.
#27
Old 08-24-2011, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by MichaelEmouse View Post
Why do you folks keep talking about artists? Big asked for the difference between an artisan and a craftman, not an artist and a craftman. Artisan=artist?
Fair enough, a google search on a couple of dictionary websites indicates that the difference between an artisan and a craftsman is spelling.
#28
Old 08-24-2011, 09:01 AM
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To put it into my own milieu, knitting, a craftsman can make things given a pattern and the yarn and equipment to make that thing. An artist is the person who came up with the pattern, or blended the yarn colorway you used (or lathed and finished the beautiful rosewood knitting needles).
#29
Old 08-24-2011, 09:18 AM
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Artisans make cheese or bread. Craftsmen are sold at Sears.....

Seriously, I think that an artisan is a craftsman that specializes in food-based creations.
#30
Old 08-24-2011, 10:05 PM
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Art is using the mastery of craft to make a statement.
#31
Old 08-24-2011, 10:18 PM
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One place where I worked was heavily unionized, with strictly-defined jobs for the various trades. They referred to people in the building trades....carpenters, house painters, cement finishers, brickmasons, etc. as artisans. People in the mechanical trades....electricians, plumbers, mechanics and so forth were craftsmen.

We didn't have any strictly artistic types working there, but in my mind an artist creates, whereas an artisan replicates and refines creative efforts. An artist is the person who writes a book, an artisan might edit or proofread it. An artist designs furnishings, an artisan builds chairs and cabinets. An artist paints a picture, an artisan makes prints or drafts blueprints. There can be a lot of overlap between the two.
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#32
Old 08-24-2011, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by MichaelEmouse View Post
Why do you folks keep talking about artists? Big asked for the difference between an artisan and a craftman, not an artist and a craftman. Artisan=artist?
See post #7.
#33
Old 08-24-2011, 10:41 PM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
See post #7.
Right you are! Reading threads is one of those good habits I hear about.
#34
Old 08-26-2011, 09:37 AM
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The distinction isn't always clear. One can be an artist or a craftsman or both. What separates the two is the origin of the drive to create, in my opinion. An artist creates something in order to impart ideas to the world, a craftsman creates and in the process achieves beauty.


Consider the following examples here.

Those chairs are revered as a classic example of beauty in form, function and simplicity. The people that made them were craftsmen of the highest order.

Now, look at this chair.

It's a really well constructed and thought out piece considering the materials, very clever. It was made to impart ideas, not to look pretty or to sit on. That makes it art.

Just my opinion, for what it's worth.
#35
Old 08-26-2011, 03:00 PM
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I agree with the general idea that craftmen make functional objects that require skill and artists make things that are aesthetically pleasing and that they are not in any way mutually exclusive. However, unless one just makes purely functional things (like an extremely plain chair using the same process hundreds of times) or purely aesthetic things (like a painting), most people do both but will probably describe themselves as more of one than the other. For instance, I certainly do both sorts of things, and though I sometimes make things that are more about function, I still consider myself an artist first, particularly since my first loves are in purely artistic pursuits (music, poetry, etc.).

So, if I were to hazard a guess, without know what your craft is, I would imagine that perhaps you feel most comfortable with craftman because you value the quality and skill and functionality of whatever it is you make over the aesthetics, and thoughts or feelings it might convey.
#36
Old 08-27-2011, 12:24 AM
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I give my students separate grades for Art and Craft.

Because you need both for a particular piece to "work".
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