Sooo… this is something I have trouble with but am really interested in. I know I could get into really in-depth research about the difference between art design or craft… but I need to dissect it myself by just writing some notes and hoping it forms something coherent.

The difference

The first very blanket statements that come to mind:

ART – Value driven piece of work that doesn’t need a use

DESIGN – A piece of work which is created for a purpose

CRAFT – A piece of work created using process as a main value, created for a specific use

Ok, I call myself an artist (just) why? Because I don’t want to be pegged down by having to make something that fits a purpose or a use and although I use craft – for me a craft-person holds different values and integrity for the work.

The Value

This is where it gets interesting for me.

In terms of traditional ‘value’ they follow that order: ART > DESIGN > CRAFT, at least in the West. My impression, although it is only from an outsider view is that the Eastern cultures, Japan in particular, they value craft and the skill of a craftsperson more than we do, or traditionally did.

Someone who can use their hands to create a beautiful & useful object, who takes the tradition of making and material and pushes it into the contemporary – is an incredible skill which should be valued very highly (and rewarded fairly ££)


Andy Mangold: “Design is much more than my job.”

I just took a little reading break and this article said:

“With rare exceptions, art makes little money. Craft makes some money. Design makes a lot of money.”

Huh. I guess they are right. Designers for sure make lots of money – graphic / interior / fashion etc. Craft people can have a steady income stream by selling their wares but most artists are doomed. Fuck.

But I still stick to the value system of ART>DESIGN>CRAFT. Not consciously or maybe not intentionally I should say, but it is my unquestioned belief.

Ok so if I’m going to question my held beliefs it might as well be publicly – I’ve never really gone into it, I don’t know why, but here goes.

My personal beliefs and first encounters:

ART: My father was an artist with a capital A back in the day, he used to run the ICA in London and used art and poetry to question society at the time.

John Sharkey and Yoko Ono at the Destruction In The Art Sy… | Flickr
Here he is (John Sharkey) with Yoko Ono in the
Destruction in Art Symposium that they were a part of in 1966

I worshipped my dad. He took me to exhibitions, museums, events and strange concerts – once a concert which imagined neanderthal music (mostly howling and tapping) – but more than that he showed me that an ever curious mind isn’t stopped by external appreciation or validation, it just is and needs to be ever curious. Actually, maybe I’m just starting to realise now much he didn’t care about who was watching just went on and pursued his own agenda, kept making until the end.

Ok that’s for sure why I value art more highly. I see it as a need. a person’s need to see the world through their own lens.

DESIGN: This is someone else’s brief, mostly, or a brief to better the life of someone else – obvs a good thing. I think for me it has two sides.

I really, really appreciate how designers are able to pull together different references and refine it to create something new to create truly good design. Also, the amazing, innovative designs for sustainable solutions that we will need to adopt and implement. Design for good and social change. Great.

I guess my bugbear with this (is that the word?), comes from my background in textile and fashion design. I just saw so much regurgitated crap in the name of design. But I guess you get that in every field. Maybe when you see something too closely you see the really good but the middle-ground gets bigger.

CRAFT: I first got really immersed in craft in university, specialising in knitwear, I also went on a month exchange to Slovakia learning their traditional handcrafts. I really enjoy working with my hands. I get lost in it and like the repetitive process. I tried to combine the crafts with design, to some (very minor) success, then I worked with designer Phoebe English who did it beautifully and showed me how to really develop craft textiles with design.

Phoebe English: Through the Archives | AnOther
Phoebe English archive from AnOther Magazine

But my desire to combine craft with design has waned. Or is at least has shifted. But it’s later and I think that is something for another day.