Art and craft

Craft is not the same as art.

Craft is concerned with: technique, details, method, skill, ability, practice, quality, study.

Art is concerned with: risk, audacity, truth, power, vision, honesty, integrity, connection, humanity, defiance, creativity, energy.

Once you see that they’re not the same, you view your own work differently. You see what others do in a new light. You admire this person for this technical ability. You admire another person for that technical ability. Others, you look up to because their work takes your breath away.

It’s not an either-or choice. You do not have to choose. You can have both. You can be both a craftsman and an artist. Often, the best in the world are just that: students of their craft and expressive, powerful artists.

But it does raise some questions. Which comes first? Does technical mastery precede artistic expression? Or is it the reverse? How do you bridge the gap between the two? How do you fold your technical skill into your art? And what stops you from integrating art and craft.


This post originally appeared on Phronetic, Matthew Sweet’s daily blog about mastery, strategy and practical philosophy. If you liked it, check out Disconnected: Ideas and Provocations, Matt’s first book.