Thursday, February 14, 2013


(Inside my studio: My 'years of collecting' yarn stash, Painting in progress, feather collection...
Well part of it anyway, it is pretty extensive!)

I once had a artist friend of mine (ie: went to and taught at prestigious art schools) tell me that I am not an artist, I should not call myself an artist, rather I should call myself a crafter. And she said it as if my work was not worthy of being considered art. She said an artist is someone who dedicates to one medium and explores that medium until it is exhausted and then explores it some more...

I have thought long and hard about it, about what those two words mean (to me anyway). I think of an artist being like a scientist, someone who is exploring and experimenting to get to the next stage in the hypothesis. Trying different mediums and avenues to find the final conclusion. And I don't believe they have to dedicate to one medium alone. And I believe that a crafter is someone who makes things, usually functional things or things with a specific purpose (other than just being beautiful, which I believe is a purpose all on its own) developing a special skillset. Crafting, to me, is largely based on functionality and skill.

So what if I do both? It seems to me that there is a fine line dividing these two titles, but does there have to be? I feel as though I am both. On one hand I like the slight disconnect from reality that I associate with being an artist, but on the other hand I like the practicality, functionality and ability to create something of use that I associate with being a crafter.

I didn't go to art school. I learn better by doing things myself, figuring them out in my own way and on my own time. That's not to say that I have never had guidance (nor am I in any way against going to art school), but I didn't have a so-called structured educations when it comes to my creative endeavors. And I am happy with that. I (continue to) choose this path and am proud of it. I have many outlets and mediums that I work with creatively. Some are extremely tangible, some are more interpretive, some are functional, some are for the sheer beauty of it or to make one think... And who knows, maybe one day I will find the right school offering the right classes in a new medium or a new idea about a medium that I already work with and I will feel compelled to attend. Either way, I have decided that I am both an artist and a crafter. And anyway, they are just words, they are titles, and titles aren't always necessary, or beneficial. In fact, sometimes that very title can be the block in the road and you just need to let it go in order to continue on your path...

A wonderful quote by St. Francis of Assisi:

"He who works with his hands is a laboror.
 He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
 He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."

Art doesn't go in only one direction... And neither does crafting.
Both have endless possibilities, endless directions they could go.
It is all open to interpretation.
It is all based upon the individuals inspiration and intention.
I choose to focus on that.

Tell me, what do you think the difference is between an Artist and a Crafter?


  1. Brittan, I think that the difference in a crafter and an artist is in the type of things you create. If you create you on design then you’re an artist if you follow someone else patterns, you’re a crafter. I consider myself a seamstress and a fiber artist. As with you I craft too, and I can never work with my hands enough. Keep your wonder post coming.


  2. Brit- this subject fascinates me. I don't know why the term "crafter" has such a negative connotation, but it seems to. And yet "craftsman" has more dignity. I've been debating this very thing in my mind for ages and I know that because of the way I see life and all my surroundings I am indeed an artist. Although I took fine art classes, ceramics, painting, drawing and have read about the masters I am not traditionally educated in art, no fine arts degree or anything like that. I have always taken as many "art" classes in school and life as I could. I have taught fiber arts, wire and bead jewelry and other things. And I do include making clothes and quilts, embroidery, knitting and spinning and felting and dyeing in fiber arts.
    I love and relate to what you said about having a slight disconnect from reality as an artist. We do see things in a different way from those who are left brain humans. I am so glad that I am good at almost everything I try to do- I see things as an artist and then make stuff with the skills I have developed as a craftsman.
    I never want to be pigeon-holed. I am offended to hear someone exclaim for instance that they thought so and so was a musician, how could he write a book? (Jimmy Buffet comes to mind...)
    How frustrated I might be if I had to limit my endeavors in any way. I love trying new things! I go to art shows, museums, craft fairs because INSPIRATION IS FREE!!
    I am sorry to say that the person who told you that you shouldn't call yourself an artist is a misguided snob.
    Surfing around just now I found this quote from someone's blog and I think it sums it up pretty well.

    "I would like to reclaim the word “craft” which I think contains the idea of a special body of knowledge and skill passed on from generation to generation. My art is what I make; my craft is the skills I have learned in order to make it well.”

    Namaste, Jules xo

  3. Heavens!!! To exhaust yourself with one medium and dwell on it??
    If you did that, we would probably never see your beads and crochet covered gems, the antler bangles, cards of watercolors, knitted sweaters, mittens and scarves, and THAT OWL you've started!!
    Titles and words...and rules. Who cares?! You and I fall into the same category. We are CRARTISTS!!!
    I took an art class once and the instructor told me I break all the rules. I can't help it. And I wouldn't have it any other way!
    Love to you, Brit!

  4. @Anonymous: I agree, design in an important part of what type of work you do and depending on what it is, guides the creative process either towards being an artist or crafter.

    @Nighowl: I TOTALLY agree about reclaiming the work "craft", I think it has become misunderstood and I also agree that a craft tended to be a skill passed on through generations. It is about holding true to a unique design or skill...

    @Prariegirl: You are so very right, I can't think of anything more boring and for me, restricting, than to stick to one medium! I LOVE that you were told you break all the rules, it says so many wonderful things (to me) about your wonderful work and personality. Keep breaking those rules, girl!!! p.s. I love your term: CRARTISTS! perfect.

  5. Ugh, a friend? A pretentious git sounds to me...
    It seems to me that she was being derogatory in her assignment of "crafter"...?

    You are absolutely right...You are a Creator, of art, of craft...
    Francis had it right...Wonderful quote.