Monday 7 June 2010

Artist? Designer? Or just crafty....?

I've been in a thoughtful mood today. For some of it at any rate. I've been wondering about these words in the title of this post. How would you describe yourself? When do you earn the right to call yourself an artist; is it something that can be/should be earned? I know many people have blogged about this subject before but it is one which is very pertinent to me as it's something I often think about in my other line of work. I never know how to describe my work here in the blog. So many other people blog about their real lives/proper jobs often in quite negative terms, wanting to give it up etc., which
I totally understand. I have a 'day job' part of singing - school peripatetic singing teaching - sure, but I love singing. I wish I could earn all my money from singing all day, every day. It is my passion; it is where my heart lies and when I feel most alive and fulfilled. I love beading and don't think I could ever or would ever stop but it's not the same as music to me. But I have a real problem calling myself a singer. Musician, absolutely fine but comes out grudgingly. I try to make myself do it but it does often feel uncomfortable, because although I do make money from singing and my main wage from teaching singing, I am not at all where I want to be with it yet. important
word here! I am most likely starting a Vocal Studies Masters in
September which I am hoping will bring me closer to being comfortable with this word SINGER.

Anyway, I deviate.... slightly. Because I think this personal dilemma I have relates very much to this artist/crafter/creator quiestion. I have to say, I would personally feel a bit odd calling myself an artist. I love creating - always have and like I said earlier, I know that I always will -
but there is a big leap between CRAFTER and ARTIST... and yet the two things are of course so close together. The closest I get to feeling like I am creating art (still not 'artist' you see!) is when I am doing bead embroidery which is why I have included these photos. This medium is so freeing, I do feel I can go beyond what I can do with beads/wire/thread. But am I really creating art? Even the fact that I choose to make jewellery - something functional, even it is just functioning as a bodily adornment. I have always made things that have a 'function' - even thinking of the Advent calendars and Christmas cards I used to love making as a child. The act of creation has always been more important to me that the end result. I can't imagine sitting down and just making something to hang up on a wall somewhere. Shouldn't art say something beyond looking pretty? Should it have some kind of
'subtext'? I certainly feel that there is truth and meaning as well as beauty when I look at a piece of Gaudi, or da Vinci, or Klimt, or Botticelli or Picasso...any of these artists, I feel there is more happening beneath the surface. The act of LOOKING is changing and meaningful in itself. I mean, just look at my work next to the Picasso and Klimt I've included here! Which would you call art? I know it's not necessarily an either/or situation but I feel a little silly even putting these on the same page! Does that need to be the case before you can call something art? Is the process of creation as important to a piece of art as the appreciation of the viewer?

I don't know the answers to these questions, I'm just throwing them out there. I think the reason I don't worry too much about this word when it comes to myself is that I don't feel I NEED to be an artist whereas I do feel this with singing.

I need to sing. I need to create...but do I need to create art? I don't need it to go beyond looking pretty at the moment. What do you all think? I am so interested to hear your thoughts on this. How do you define yourselves? Do you feel the need to?


WayfaringJamie said...

There is always the old answer that 'everything is art'. I guess what defines so-called 'good' art from so-called 'bad' art is how people connect to it; if people connect to it.

I suppose that even in museums Decorative Arts are distinguished from Fine Arts, so I would say there's a difference there in that somehow there the level or mechanisms for the design and execution of art such as furniture and jewellery is different from that of sculpture or painting.

Maybe? I don't know - I coming from a completely ignorant perspective.

As for the singing... as reluctantly as I am to say there is a difference between a musician and a singer - there's a different mindset I think, and this goes even further as you seperate the worlds of art song and Oratorio from the world of opera.

Or something...

Where are you 'most probably' doing your Masters?

Rebecca said...

RNCM. Surprise, surprise, I can't quite leave Manchester!! Helen's just been diagnosed with MS (shit, obviously) and I am keen to her to have continuity of care at the moment. I know I'm going to a great teacher however and that is the main thing after all. Now, if only I could stop getting colds...How are your travels going???

Las Creaciones de Boricua said...

It's beautiful!!!!!!

Unknown said...

I was in a class recently with Anne Mitchell and she said of herself "I'm not an artist, I'm a technician" and I fully understood what she meant. The term technician applies very well to me, I'm very good at tweaking and refining. I believe part of this debate could be eliminated if we took the disparagement that is sometimes placed on "craft" verus "art". Being called a crafter can make a person defensive and we're told to aspired to be artists. However, both create great value and both take skill. The labels themselves are subjected and don't always stand the test of time. For example "folk art" is highly prized after it has had the opportunity to age. Art / craft doesn't matter as long as you are creating what you love to the best of your ability and always strive to improve. The best advice anyone had given me (and I need to follow it more) is never disparage your work.

Anja said...

Dear Rebecca, sometimes people make jeweleries but's no art. Art needs an other person, who is affected in a way which really touches the spirit of that person. You see or hear it and it is beyond using something, it's a very special feeling. Perhaps you understand what I mean. An artist is someone who has touched an other person deeply, with a talent he uses and brings to surface. So when walking through your blog, I can imagine that you are an artist. But when only you are the person who is overwhelmed by it, are you than still an artist. I thing yes.

Anonymous said...

I read your post with interest as it's one of those massive questions- what is art?! I mean, it's unanswerable really. One issue which I feel is quite pertinent to the whole craft vs. art debate is the issue of gender- the 'high art' world was -and arguably still is- dominated by men. Even your rollcall of amazing artists, Gaudi, Klimt etc are all of the bearded sort!

Whereas craft, and crafting, has so often belonged to a more female world. Basket weaving, textile weaving, quilting, spinning, knitting, sewing and so on all evolved in order to mesh function with beauty. Men could galavant off to Tahiti to paint the underage locals, but the women remained at the heart of a more functional beauty. Gender values and the division of labour in our own culture still uphold these ideas- there aren't very many male quilters out there.

Perhaps we feel unsure of the term 'artist' partly because of such entrenched gender divisions, ideals, and senses of worthiness. A bracelet only looks pretty. A quilt is only there to keep you warm. Yet a painting is only oily goop on canvas. And it physically 'does' nothing! But paintings, quilts and necklaces can of course do more than just be pretty or warming.

And I really do put them in the same bracket. The painstaking measurements, cutting, mathematical calculations, care, precision and execution behind a life's best quilt, which can take many years to complete, is indeed comparable to a great fresco or Lalique's dragonfly brooch.

The meanings and values we attribute to art (and 'the arts' like singing!) are in my opinion utterly gendered.

Just my own meanderings to add to the mix...


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