The Difference Between Craft and Art

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist”. – Picasso

Picasso

Art is about making an emotional connection with people. Craft, like Picasso said, is about being a pro. Its about meeting a need. 

Anyone can make art. Not everyone is a craftsman. 

I remember when I was growing up and studying music composition a lot of the elitists would decry film composer John Williams as not being a true artist in the same vein as composers like Stravinsky or Schoenberg. 

Later, I read something in which Williams himself stated that he didn’t see himself as an artist when it came to his film work. The artist is the director and his role as a film composer is a craftsman who’s services are utilized by the director to help achieve his vision. In his mind, the film composer is no different from the visual effects team or model makers or green screen technicians. A film brings together all of the best craftsman they can to help the artist (director) achieve their vision. Each craftsman sets aside their own artistic ambition, if needed, to serve the film. 

Developing mastery of a craft takes years of dedicated work to achieve. The reason anyone can make art is that its possible to not have very good skill and still provoke or make an emotional connection with people. 

Now, when you combine a high level of craft, and the ability to connect with people emotionally, that’s when you create a Picasso. That’s when you become a master. That’s when you leave a legacy. 

The clockmaker who toils away for years honing and refining his craft doesn’t often worry about whether her work is making an emotional connection with people. What she creates might, but usually the goal is to create something of high quality that serves a function, telling time. 

Whereas the artist, may not have the mastery of clockmaking skills that the craftsman does, but he has a way of building that clock so interestingly that it provokes or challenges people when they see it.   

Picasso was famous for mastering traditional art methods when he was younger and then began looking for other ways to express himself. When he began inventing new styles and methods for his art was when he really pushed the boundaries of what was expected.  He became Picasso not because he painted naked women in weird shapes but because he was a master painter who saw the world in a new way. 

Art is about purpose. Craft is about skill. When you can combine the two at their highest level that’s when you make history. 

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