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Artist or Artisan… How Do You See Yourself?


  • I love this post, Mark.
  • Yep. It really helped me when I found someone who was further up the rung on the ladder. It inspired me to ask. How dis he do that? I want to do that too.

  • Excellent post - I think that with the exception of a very few virtuosos, the path to becoming an artist is through mastery of the craft & technique, i.e., artisanship. The artistry comes through the intangibles - subject matter, composition, viewpoint, etc.
  • edited May 2014
    Fascinating insight, Mark. Something for us all to stew over for a while.
  • I plucked this from a famous artist's blog, just so you know I don't take undeserved credit for finding or recalling this: Here is a passage from Joshua Reynolds ( head or the British Royal Academy 1796), written just before the American Revolution and delivered as one of a series of speeches in London.

    The first endeavours of a young Painter, as I have remarked in a former discourse, must be employed in the attainment of mechanical dexterity, and confined to the mere imitation of the object before him. Those who have advanced beyond the rudiments, may, perhaps, find advantage in reflecting on the advice which I have likewise given them, when I recommended the diligent study of the works of our great predecessors ; but I at the same time endeavoured to guard them against an implicit submission to the authority of any one master however excellent: or by a strict imitation of his manner, precluding themselves from the abundance and variety of Nature. I will now add, that Nature herself is not to be too closely copied. There are excellences in the Art of painting beyond what is commonly called the imitation of Nature; and these excellences I wish to point out. The Students who, having passed through the initiatory exercises, are more advanced in the Art, and who, sure of their hand, have leisure to exert their understanding, must now be told, that a mere copier of Nature can never produce anything great; can never raise and enlarge the conceptions or warm the heart of the spectator.
    He is saying that to be an expert craftsman is the minimum requirement to become an artist. It is a given. CraftsmanshIp is the framework on which artistry hangs. Once the artist is easily able to render the scene accurately from nature, he/she must improve on nature: change elements or leave them out for better composition and better effect, make decisions about edge representation, brushwork or lack thereof, colour manipulation etc. The artistry comes from going beyond the craftsmanship and through knowledge and the thought. Without craftsmanship, there may be "charm" but not artistry. ( eg: Grandma Moses)
  • "CraftsmanshIp is the framework on which artistry hangs." Well put!
  • I can sense a hangout coming...
  • edited May 2014
    @Kingston I am using artisan and craftsman interchangeably. I cannot agree with you Kingston, for a whole host of reasons, but I do not care to argue the point. We will have to agree to disagree.

  • Mark_CarderMark_Carder admin
    If you make art, you are an artist. I am an artist I know, for me it is a matter of perspective, how you feel when you step into your studio... what will you do today? I like a lot of what Reynolds said, it is a deep subject and as Kingston said it is a contrast. :)
  • I would venture to say, @Kingston, that is exactly where the artist takes over from the craftsman. A great artist can still be a poor craftsman while being a great craftsman doesn't always make a person a great artist.
    [Deleted User]
  • A great artist can still be a poor craftsman […]

    I wonder if @Mark_Carder‌ would consider this to be the case with Edward Hopper?
  • How do we even know if we are either or? Is it something determined by society, our family and friends, fellow artists, us or maybe money?

    At the end of the day, does it matter? I've seen many individuals who are neither great artists nor great craftsmen yet they are very popular and make tons of cash, while there are some that are both but can't even get one "LIKE" on their facebook page from their spouse. L-)
  • edited May 2014
    Actually, there is an international guild of realist artists. They have "standards" for joining. Maybe they decide?: (Note: Tongue in cheek)

  • edited May 2014
    I think that the point of the original post was to ask how you see yourself, and to suggest that, for some people, seeing yourself as an artisan can help you to improve as a painter.
  • Mark_CarderMark_Carder admin
    @Dinah posted this in Google Plus, I love this!
    "I am an artist..It's self-evident that what that word implies is looking for something all the time without ever finding it in full. It is the opposite of saying, "I know all about it. I've already found it." As far as I'm concerned, the word means, "I am hunting for it, I am deeply involved. " - Vincent Van Gogh
  • I'm always Intrigued by the question what do you do. I've had a lot of jobs from buss boy to instrument technician, but my first answer since I can remember has always been an artist followed by craftsman/ artisan then tinkerer. There will always be those who are defined by their jobs and those that define their jobs. In every task I seek perfection while realizing that I cannot achieve it. So I am an artist and craftsman and great in neither but someday I may be.
  • When I first heard Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, I didn't get it. It sounded like noise to me and I assumed they were just goofing around playing anything. I thought anybody could just make random noise, what's the point? Then I heard a version Pachuko Cadaver live and realized it wasn't random noise at all, it was advanced musicianship. They were doing it all on purpose, intentionally. That's when it hit me. That stuff is high art, because it is made with intent.

    I've been a musician for over 30 years and I still can't play well enough to be in a Captain Beefheart cover band. But if I want to create art with my music, it needs to be made with intent, which means I had better learn how to play.

    How is painting any different? If I want to create art with my painting, hadn't I better learn how to do it with intent? Don't I need to learn the craft?
    Mark_Carder[Deleted User]valentin
  • I`m an artist that tries to create artistic creations.
  • edited July 2014
    I think it takes a bit of both to be either one. I've known artists and artisans who were great at their chosen craft. I've also known people who were truly gifted. Those for example who could pick up a pencil and draw anything effortlessly on the first attempt (we've all seen someone do it and it's amazing). Or sit at a piano and play a song by ear with little or no music lessons. Most of us have to learn the techniques and learn to see, hear and do things the way that gifted individual just seems to have the built in knack for. I think, everyone pursues what they have a natural talent for simply because its easier for them. Some people are great at drawing, but can't boil an egg... others are fantastic cooks but can't paint a bathroom wall, but anyone can learn to draw or cook, it's just a matter of how much time and effort we're willing to put into it. The person with the knack for it... weeks or months. Folks like me... months or years. Perseverance and effort will always pay off and anyone can be a master if they want it bad enough. As proof, I'm a gifted artist with boiled eggs... but it's taken me 40 years ;)
  • Fabulous question and debate! I think I will come down on the side of being an artisan - someone who has seriously studied and thus acquired a certain level of skill. For me, the artist transcends that level, intentionally or not. I will always strive to reach that level but don't feel that I have yet. Few do....
  • Bill - you already posted earlier that you considered yourself an artist. Now you are posting work that looks like a request for validation. Why? Do you not have an opinion on this subject? No one can tell you what to think so why would you ask instead of expressing an honest view?
  • My point is: Artist : 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.
    He who works with his hands is a laborer.
    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.
    St Francis of Assisi" ?
    What I`m trying to say is " there is no difference"
    But then again, What do I know, I`m just a poor old country boy.
  • martenvisser; Right on, well said, I couldn't agree more,
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • I don't really like labels. I feel that they have a tendency to limit you. Be whatever it is that you must be artist or artisan and try to do your best at it.
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