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Relationship Between Art and Craft

Art and Craft

How Many Times Do You Come Across This Question?
Are they different or same?
Are they related or co-dependent in any way?

What is the difference between Art and Craft? Articles of pottery, pieces of beautifully stained glass or an intricately woven stole; all are examples of, well art or craft? Hang around a little longer, for you are about to get your answer. Most of us are in awe of crafts and the objects that it produces and a lot many of us often enjoy them more than anything that is a product of art. What we miss out on is a clear conception of what tells them apart from each other.

art and craft of kids

Craft is Derived from Kraft Which is German for Power or Ability

It is basically any kind of skilled work that involves application of a technique. Craft is more about the application of human touch and intelligence than a mechanical technology. A craftsman does have tools at his command but independent of human guidance these cannot accomplish any task. An interesting angle to crafts is that this concept is historically associated with creation of beautiful and useful objects. You would argue that a craftsman’s teapot or vase should be able to hold tea or flowers and you are probably right. An object of craft tends to be useful for various purposes and it may also be pretty and pleasing in any number of ways.

art and craft for kids

The Fine Line Between Art & Craft

On the other hand, an artist’s work is, well, it doesn’t really have a utility to offer, except maybe imparting a pleasant experience to your senses and a quick escape from reality to a world of bliss. Having said that, let’s try to understand art as well with subtle comparisons. With crafts often involving some kind of handwork and commonly resulting in the production of a useful object is not enough to distinguish it from art.

art and craft items

The reason being that works of art — paintings, music pieces and its performance, poetry, and more require skill and constant practice. Moreover, these account for numerous great works that preserve culture, signify talent and creativity, offer solace and peace. These might not be tangible utilities but we still highly appreciated them as among them are works of architecture that hold enormous practical value.

art and craft paintings

British Philosopher R.G. Collingwood Says...

We can understand the criteria which distinguish art from craft. A very important and interesting point of distinction between art and craft rests in their planning and execution. The craftsman is usually sure of the result that he wants to obtain. He has a strong preconceived notion or thought towards which his work is targeted. The foreknowledge of knowing what he seeks in his creation is never vague, and this is what is “indispensable” to craft.

art and craft by kidsDefiniteness of Craft

A furniture maker is a typical craftsman. He sets out to make a chair or a table by writing down the specific measurements of the pieces of timber required to make it. He would not go about it vaguely in his mind. What don’t make for a craft are a few informed guesses and a trial and error approach. There is a dependability about it which comes from the application of a learned technique. A craftsperson knows what the final product will look like and this aspect essentially differentiates it from art. Though overlapping in practice and intimately involved with each other; there is an innate predictability in crafts that is backed by application of a learned and teachable skill. This skill is aimed at a preconceived result. Art, on the other hand, is an expression of human emotion, talent, and intellect. It may hold different meanings to different individuals.

magic art and crafts

Uncertainty of Art

In case of art, there is this inherent uncertainty that is evident in every stroke of a paint brush that a painter makes on a canvas. It is quite identical in every syllable that an actor utters on stage provided he is into improvising as well. Nobody knows what the eventual piece is going to look like until the last bit of detail is put in. No critic can appraise the performance until the act is complete and a response is aroused from the audience. A magician too is a performer and he is the archetypical craftsman. He conjures things up and performs magic tricks to amaze his audience and unlike an actor or a painter he has complete control over his craft. He knows the tricks of his trade and he knows exactly what to do to get the desired response from his audience.

art and craft in movies

In many respects, film-making is a craft too as it requires the work of countless numbers of highly trained, intelligent, and skillful people. Be it scripting, casting, lighting, directing, cinematography, special effects, acting or promotion. The whole key to this activity is what will sell? Although the reaction of the audience is unpredictable but the final piece is more or less pre-conceived and quite tangible. But then there are filmmakers that focus on coming up with plots that are intrinsically fabricated to depict deep rooted emotions. Deep human feelings and desires that may be more related to the arts than to crafts are displayed via these projects and so the line grows thin here.

Relation Between Art & Craft

art and craft skills

But by now it seems that the demarcation between art and craft might just be our imagination. It is so because almost all traditionally acknowledged arts indeed require craft, which is to say that they all require application of a technique. Also, training for any artistic discipline requires for the practitioner to attain a certain level of expertise in techniques. Though this too differs for different arts such as writing, singing, playing an instrument or painting; for all of them require different degrees of effort and conditioning.

Elements of Art in Many Creations of Crafts

The love of materials, the leap of imagination and the ability to delight and jar the audience with something distinct. All this sheds enough light on the fact that there are certain symptoms of craft that are common to art as well. Both require a technique, a proficient routine, and manipulation of audiences. In fact, the line grows even thinner when we consider producing art for a particular market. Be it art or craft, external or social needs usually govern the final output. So yes, art and craft overlap and assist in defining each other. They co-exist and depend on each other and yet in many instances rebel against each other if put in the same accord.


  • Is an expression of emotions
  • Is unstructured & open ended
  • Cannot be easily quantified
  • Cannot be duplicated
  • It moves people on an emotional level
  • Originates from the heart and soul
  • Is a result of a person’s innate talents
  • Lets emotions play



  • Results in a tangible output
  • Is innately structured
  • Can be easily quantified
  • Can be easily duplicated
  • It attracts people on a physical level
  • Originates from the mind
  • Is a result of acquired skill & experience
  • Makes room for practical thought

In conclusion, most of us do not consider them different and rightly so because attempting to define one exclusive of the other is impossible. That implies that Art is not a separate “world” from Craft. These two things are not entities themselves rather specific aspects of all creative work.

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