(Note: I’m going to refer to ‘craftsman’ as a ‘her.’ Take that, gender roles. I don’t even know what standard I’m bucking right now.)
I think it is safe to say that every artist who is actively pursuing their potential career has wished to be taken seriously by others on the field. There is some nerve in an artist’s brain that constantly reacts to the work of others, for better or (usually) for worse. We compare ourselves to the best of the best, and feel that we’ve fallen dismally short when we fail.
Some of the things we compare are pretty obvious: technical skill, rendering ability, color theory, page views… but I submit there is something more important than these aesthetic aspects: craftsmanship.
I recently came across a definition of “craftsmanship” that I really like: “Craftsmanship is doing what you love and doing it right.” This is from an article by Dave Gamache, and I love it. I think that this is the secret difference between an amateur artist and a “real” artist: an amateur artist makes art because she loves it. A “real” artist loves art, and wants to do it right. A real artist is a craftsman. Even if they aren’t ‘good’ yet.
A craftsman isn’t someone who is excellent at their work; that’s an excellent craftsman. A craftsman isn’t a paid position; that’s a paid craftsman. Without any qualifiers, a craftsman is simply an individual pursuing a craft– that thing you love and want to do right. A craftsman wants to refine her skill-set, enhance her abilities, and share her experience with others, with her audience.
But when a craftsman shares her craft with her audience, she wants to share the best she has to offer, and she always wants her best to be better than it was. This leads to the drive for ‘perfection’… a concept that never really exists for the artist OR craftsman. But it’s not the expectation of ever really achieving perfection that drives the craftsman, it’s the journey, the process, the sheer experience.
An artist who is also a craftsman lives and breathes their passion, and there is no getting around it. Because you love doing it. And you love it so much that you want to do it well.
But how do you pursue craftsmanship? What does it look like when you’re crafting something? How does it look different from pursuing something gits and shiggles? (Yes, I just used that.)
How do you practice craftsmanship?