With the commoditisation of paintings, sculptures and other wall furniture that one can buy on Etsy, a question pops up: Are we artists or artisans?
I think our main concern as creatives should be to first have a nice little talk with ourselves over some coffee and maybe a bagel if you don’t care about your carb intake and figure out the basics of what our craft is all about:
Because there is a large difference between the two and genuinely and sincerely choosing one or the other does not make us better or worse in the eyes of the immaculate sublime creative essence that dictates art must never be commoditised. In fact, art is already a commodity and as such there really is no fear of loosing ones integrity because of being content with wanting to be a great craftsperson, but not an artist.
The main point here is to think about what kind of relationship we have with our work and how we view it inside the enormous field that is our world. Are we making things because we enjoy the process and like painting trees without caring much for the message of our work? Or are we only painting because the medium itself allows us to produce the best iteration of our message to the world and to ourselves?
If it’s the former, we are artisans. We are craftspeople who value the pleasures of a job well done and as such should price our products accordingly; depending on our skill, on the quality of the finished product, the time we spent working on it and factor in our experiences, education and most importantly our ability to deliver the same quality every time and how much of it we can actually produce over the span of a year.
But if we are concerned with our message to the world, if we strive only to propagate our views and change the status quo that we have deemed either broken or unfair, and if we can deliver on our ability to convey such messages with vigour, incredible understanding of the world itself and in a humble, respectful manner — regardless of the medium, motif or other physical traits of how our messages are manifested into the world — then we are artists.
The kicker in my opinion: We are artists only and exclusively if our work can actually communicate our intentions and our ability to produce mind-altering, life-enhancing, spirit-uplifting works of art is not just a random event, but backed by an intricate understanding of the human spirit, and we are able to deliver such products on a regular basis.
In reality only such products are the luxury, high-ticket items in the art world. And to finish the series on galleries, only such products are actually adept at having the ability to become the new Fountains, Sunflowers and Last Suppers of the art world.
Only such products can succeed in the long run in attracting galleries, agents and other professional sellers and marketeers of art, because everything else was just made by somebody being really good at using a certain kind of tool.
Tools change though, but on the other hand core human values like equality, beauty, righteousness … they never do. If your work truly embodies those, you really are an artist.