Craft vs. Art

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by morydd, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. morydd

    morydd TPF Noob!

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    The "Is there a point..." thread has got me thinking (again) about "Craft" vs. "Art"; something I've thought about a lot over the years. Here's my take:

    I consider myself a craftsman, not an artist. I am, by training, by job title, and by both vocation and avocation, a theatrical lighting technician. In short, I take other people's ideas and bring them to life. Most of what I do for "fun" (web design, and to some extent my photography) is the same way. I'm not creating anything terribly original, but I'm doing something (I feel is) interesting with what's already there. At times the things I'm making do cross the line to become art, but it's rare, and I'm okay with that.

    To me, the artist is the one who has a vision of something that is new in the universe, and the craftsman is the one who makes that vision real. Sometimes, it can be the same person. A painter, sculptor or photographer may be an artist who executes the craft as well. Other times the artist must give their vision to craftmen to make it real. While an artist my compose a symphony, all of the musicians who play the music and make it real for the audience are the craftsmen. Of course, not everyone who writes a symphony is an artist, but I won't get into that distinction, because defining art is more work than I'm willing to put into this post. And many people who make their livings as craftsmen, are artists in their spare time.

    In every art, there is craft. In photography, I think this is more apparent than in many other art forms that are done essentially "solo". In order to create your art, you must know your craft. Having a vision in your head, doesn't make it to film (or CCD) unless you're very lucky, or you know your craft (and sometimes it takes both). I think that's why I love photography. I can work on the craft endlessly and, for me, the art is secondary. Other people who have a different temprament, may find the craft aspect a "neccessary evil" in the creation of their art. And that's what makes photography such a great thing in my mind. We all start from the same raw materials (the real world) and turn it into something that no one has seen, or will see the same way.

    Dang, I'm all philisophical and stuff this morning.
     
  2. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I think maybe craft is a discription of how you make the picture.

    I think the art is in knowing what to shoot and the effect that is achieved. I have shot mostly hack photographs all my life, but as you said, now and then one just might accidentally slip into the realm of art. It's more than making a window lite portrait, hell any craftsman can do that. Something that has a soul of it's own is how I see it. The image that is really worth those thousand words.
     
  3. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If you are designing the lighting and setting it up, that part of it can be considered 'craft'. The actual lighting, as it unfolds with time during a performance of the play, is part and parcel of the performance art that is the whole stage presentation.

    Similarly, setting up a camera and aiming it are 'craft'. The print, if it has something to say, can be art.
     
  4. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    Here here mr T,

    Unfortunately too many of us cant tell the difference between a well crafted shot and art.... I admit i shoot very very little if anything I would consider art...
     
  5. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Art IS tough to define. The audience caused a near riot at the first performance of Le Sacre. Van Gogh couldn't peddle a canvas for beans. Even the art critics, who should have the inside track in knowing gelt from shmutz, blow it big time every so often. Examples abound.

    So how are we, Joe Everyman and Jane Everywoman, to make such decisions? Art mavens we're not. All we can really do is let time run its course and do the judging for us. To paraphrase Spock [Mr., not Dr.], 'Live long and, arm in arm with time, learn to appreciate.'
     
  6. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    ah but van gogh knew of course he too was certifiable. The problem is so did edgar taft who nobody ever heard of.
     
  7. Kent Frost

    Kent Frost TPF Noob!

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    I don't know if you want to call what I do a craft, an art, or a chore...but I don't care because those are merely words that we use to try and describe the world. Hate to say it, but the world is NOT words, the world just IS. Call it what you want, but always remember that whatever you call it amounts to nothing more than little mouth noises. What you do is what you do, and there's no point in arguing over definitions of little mouth noises.
     
  8. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    As my very first art instructor said, "The work always speaks for itself."

    The problem isnt with the work or even the words, it's in how we see what we create. The hack can think he is making art but its still hack work.... The artist can be just trying to pay the rent while believing he is creating commercial trash. Or he can send his lady friend an ear, its still rock and roll to me.

    We can stop listening and trying to make our work better because hey man its my style. If you learn the craft, you stand a better chance to make art. But do remember whose opinion that is...see below
     
  9. fightheheathens

    fightheheathens TPF Noob!

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    So this might be off topic...
    but yesterday, I went to the San Francisco MOMA where next to Piscao you can see a piece titles Fountian by R. Mutt.
    This is a Urinal Signed by DuChamp (for those who dont know)
    anywho, art is what ever i want it to be.
     
  10. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    I think craft vs art is the wrong approach. They go hand in hand. Your craft should be second nature. That will allow you to create art without getting caught up in the technical side.

    Commercial work is slightly different. I used to feel like a pawn in the game. Just setting up lights and shooting. I changed my attitude and the work has become easier. I believe that there is art in everything. That includes every step of the process.

    In the case of your theatrical lighting consider that you are working with a partner. Your art is making their scheme happen. Not an easy task.
     
  11. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Those who wish to pursue the question of 'what is art' would do well to take a course in aesthetics.
     
  12. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I always love these art discussions cause nobody can ever be wrong it all win win.
     

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