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We said craft and design are applied art. We’ve talked about the ambiguity boundary of art and design. The title “designer” is even harder to define, for we start to use and define it rather recently. Since design covers a range so wide, the word “designer” can include a lot of fields. However, craftsman is a more historical concept. Now, here’s the question. What is craft? How is it different from art?

Functional and ornamental

The debate still surrounded the purpose and its creator. In the past, art was made for Gods, for Kings and for the nobles. Paintings and sculptures were made not for art's sake, but for the eternity that given by art, to honor and remember the greats and those once existed. The emotions and creative performance of the artisan doesn’t matter. Here, art is just a form, as a manifestation and decoration.

At the time, makers of statues and portraits were not considered as artists but artisans who mastered the skill of making the creations, which we considered as arts today. The skills they mastered are required to create art, but their works are not as creative as a work of art, for the works are lack of the creativity of the maker themselves. People appreciate their sculpturing or painting techniques, not their artistic talent. Or say, people expected no unique techniques from the creators whatsoever but only its resemblance and whether it’s pleasing to the eye.

To product? Or to create?

Before the mechanical and industrial era, when the clear line of the so-called artist has not yet been established, professionals engaged in manufacturing were called craftsmen. These craftsmen are managed by the workshop owners or the guilds. Craftsmen who did mass production and function-oriented products also needed professional techniques and skills, but there were not much "Art" elements in their works. Just like tanning and tailoring, spinning and embroidering. They are not art, but the craftsmanship and the need for aesthetics also distinguished craftsmen. Crafts with higher creative needs are regarded closer to art.

Whether it is functional or ornamental, the craftsmanship should not be divided into high and low. However, its value is still influenced by the value of art. Creativity is not limited by the level of skills and art. The engraver's creativity is honed from lines and patterns while the blacksmith's creativities are forged from materials and producing methods.

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