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Monday, September 15, 2008

Artist vs. Crafter

I did a local craft show a week or so back, and ended up running into a situation that I had never thought I'd have to deal with.

My craft buddy and I had just finished setting up our tent in the drizzling rain, so I made my way over to the welcome tent where they were having free coffee and muffins. As I poured myself a warm, wonderful cup of coffee, I heard the woman next to me complaining loudly to the art fair organizers.

"I didn't know there would be jewelry makers here. You just didn't make that clear in any of the literature you sent me. If I had known there would be jewelry makers here, we probably never would have done this show. I don't think it's fair that my husband's $4,000 paintings should have to be next to a booth selling $14 dollar earrings!"

Trying not to choke on my coffee, I calmly looked at the woman and said:

"Excuse me, I actually happen to be a jewelry artist with a booth here. I just wanted to say that I am an artist, and some of my smallest pieces take hours to complete. It took me years to develop my techniques, just like your husband, I'm sure. And, obviously I managed to find the jewelry category on the registration form, so if you couldn't find it, you must not have been looking very hard."

The Artsy Farsty Lady huffed a bit and left the tent. I quickly apologized to the registration ladies if I had seemed out of line. I told them that I just couldn't keep quiet. They assured me that I was in the right, and I scurried back to my booth with my hot coffee.

Later that morning, I realized Artsy Fartsy Lady and her husband had there booth only one over form ours. I couldn't help but watch Artsy Fartsy Lady throughout the day as she tried to hawk her husband's overpriced paintings in her filthy, cut-off, denim shorts and grungy tank top. I couldn't help thinking that she could really benefit from a $14 pair of earrings....

So, my question to my fellow jewelry makers is, do you consider yourself to be artists? I know I do, but I see a lot of people labeling jewelry design as strictly craft. What do you think?

15 comments:

Hot Rocks said...

Good for you for speaking out! Jewelry designers ARE artists!! We are creative individuals who devote alot of time, energy and money as well as piece of ourselves, designing "wearable art"!! I think that woman, and anyone who thinks like her, is totally out of touch with todays artists and artisans, and needs to be educated before she flaps her mouth!

Kim said...

I regard Jewellery Makers as very creative...mostly talented...hardworking artists ...
what an absolute snob....she obviously needs to lighten up ...

Thyme2dream said...

Sounds like that woman's karma caught up with her!

The Arts Center where I take classes has a very delightful view of what we jewelry makers and other craft artisans do...when they have a show that includes jewelry and other things that arent just paintings, etc they label it as "fine craft".

Melissa said...

When I first started I would say no. I was just a hobbyist, but as I have learned more and more, and advanced my technique and knowledge, yes I would consider myself an artist. Good for you for speaking up, you were much nicer than I would have been. I have to say though, her attitude, is not one I haven't heard before, right from Etsy sellers. Not exactly the same wording, but the same concept. There are members, that have said they want people who are willing to sell their jewelry for as high, as other members price theirs. So I think it is a common concept, depending on who you speak to. Something affordable, without huge mark ups, is not cheap, it is called a good deal.

Three Fates said...

Jewelry artists are artists. As said before, we make art you can wear. Just because I don't paint, doesn't mean I'm not an artist. That woman needs to get her head out of, well you know where. The last show I was at, there was a painter like that. He had some work marked $5,000+, and it looked like any of the crap you could find in the mall. I'm not saying he wasn't an artists, I'm just pointing out that just because you can paint a landscape, doesn't mean your better then everyone else. Okay I have to stop, I could go on forever.

Designing Hilary said...

High Five!! Thank you for standing up for yourself and all the rest of us jewelry artists!

Craftsmen are artists. My goodness, look at all the lovely architecture and furniture of any era and tell me the designers aren't artists.

The pendant you posted on the bottom of your post ... an interpretation of a unicorn, that is art.

Janice said...

I think there are both out there. There are people making crap with cheap pre-fab components, there are people designing lovely jewelry with high quality pre-fab components, and there are people fabricating jewelry (both good and bad) from "scratch". "art" is in the eye of the beholder. :-) IMO
~Janice
(by the way - your wirework is lovely! )

Jenn Thorson said...

This happens at our local arts festival every year-- to the point that eventually the festival broke into two groups, ironically selling at the exact same weekend a few streets away from each other. :)

I understand your pain. I think the level of "art" exemplified tends to depend very much on the skill and thought of the jewelry artist as WELL as the painter. :)

I can see where you would have gotten riled up, certainly.

Ragtree said...

I'm not a jewelry artist but I absolutely agree that it is art! Anything that is imaginative and created with passion is art in my book.

I have seen attacks on Flickr from one artist to another (unprovoked, just to be mean.) I don't think anyone who REALLY understands art and where it comes from in the soul could ever attack someone else. It is ridiculous.

Renee :)

Dashery Jewelry said...

Thank you for standing up for all of us! Of course jewelry is art.

Magdalen Islands said...

I think that if a person can come with original designs, then a person should be considered an artist. However, if person is following a pattern then they become a craftsperson. I don't know if this if right, but it is the way I look at art vs crafts. Me? I'm a crafts person but I do artistic pieces. I consider myself fitting into either category and price my pieces accordingly.

Lenox Knits said...

You are clearly an artist. I don't necessarily think that everyone who makes jewelry is an artist but they are definitely exploring their artistic side. Just like everyone who knits is not a fiber artist, which is the term I've started using for myself as I apply to art shows.

SolSisters said...

Designing is an act of creation, no matter the medium.

If you are executing other people's patterns, you are a crafter.

If you are creating your own patterns,designs,images etc. you are an artisan.

Your work is is art in just the same way his is as you create your own designs.

Kirstie says..... said...

Very well said!

palleikodesigns said...

You were definitely in the right! On another note...

I am a jewelry designer/metalsmith. I majored in contemporary craft at a strictly all art university. I studied fine art as well as all the fields in contemporary craft. I consider myself an artist. One doesn't

Personally I feel that there is a huge difference between what I consider ART and what I consider crafting/DIY types of things out "there". Everyone has their own definition about what art is and what it isn't.