Arts and Crafts

If you want to make your process seem “magical” or “other-directed” describe it as art, right? The “Art” of the Deal, a bullshit “artist”, The Art of War, The Art of Living. But that implies that “art” (a mystical convergence of talent and inspiration) is somehow separate from “craft” (a common integration of technique and practice), and is in fact not really a matter of technique and practice, that it is elevated above everyday workmanship to a semi-Divine state of production.

I call bullshit.

As an artist myself – a poet and musician, principally – I COULD say that what I can do and produce is NOT the direct product of endless repetitious hours of practice, physical endurance enforcing physical memory, and learning how to interpret the work of artists in a different way from the way that “non-artists” do (in my case, listening for different specific things in a musical performance or composition that correspond to techniques and practices I have studied and personally used). But no matter how I present it, it is still more science than magic. As far as I’m concerned, art IS a craft; and by that same token, if we consider Buckminster Fuller’s assertion that while he didn’t consider the beauty of a thing while it was being built or constructed, if it was not beautiful when it was completed, he knew it was wrong, any MASTERY of a craft is in fact art.

We consider the “arts” as “arty” as a way to imagine that we lack something necessary to likewise produce beautiful or eternal art, music, dance, sculpture, architecture – or to negotiate the perfect deal, turn the greatest profit, know which battles are key to winning a war, most effectively (and seemingly effortlessly) complete the most complex and convoluted projects on time, in scope and under budget. But the truth is what we lack, with the exception of perhaps imagination, is the propensity and willingness for hard work. Because ask any dancer: you must be willing to sacrifice a LOT of physical comfort to become a prima ballerina. You have to put in extra hours, behind the scenes, to make “art” seem effortless. Otherwise, what you portray is an “artless” incomplete mastery of craft.

Some would be offended by suggesting there is an “art” of medicine, of law, as opposed to a solid, craftsman-like “practice”. Because although practice IS a critical component of any artist’s training and maintenance, we imply a different kind of “practice” when we practice medicine or law. Or do we? Of course, calling these “arts” makes them seem too arbitrary, too subjective – because as the saying goes, we may not know what good art is, but “we know it when we see it”. And we know medicine, or the law? Again, I call bullshit.

An artist, then, must be considered among other things, a Master Craftsman; in the same way, a Master Craftsman is an artist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*