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My name is Ryan Demaree and I am an Abstract-Surrealist painter, Science/Astronomy enthusiast and gamer from Columbus, Ohio born October 28th 1991. This blog is a collection of my thoughts regarding events in my life, art, science and anything that generally crosses my mind and urges me to talk about it.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Craft / Decoration vs. Fine Art

Craft-Art V.S. Fine-Art

Recently I have been thinking about what the difference between Craft / Decoration art and Fine art is and what are some good examples of each.

I just had an art show/ event this past weekend [my first public setup as a vendor] for the "Avant Garde- Arts and Crafts art show- Columbus, Ohio" and I noticed fairly quickly that amongst all of the vendors at the show that I was one of the only painters/ traditional artists at the show, genre aside, and that I was kinda sticking out like a sore thumb a little bit as my booth had actually been placed in the middle section of the room that the event was being held in. On both sides of me were women selling hand-made jewelry and the likes, as were just about everyone in the row that I was in. Across the room from me was someone who did a litle bit of painting as well as made t-shirts and I believe there was one other painter on the other side of the room as well.

This all got me to thinking about what the differences were between what I was doing and what they were doing and what role each person played.

The demographics of this show seemed to be mostly women ages 30-50 who made jewelery and the likes, which I guess was to be expected seeing as I was recruited for this show through Etsy.com . There was only really 3 painters essentially and amongst them I was the only "Outsider artist" in the sense that I painted things out of my head, rather than things in front of me.

All of this got me to thinking about what my goal is as an artist and what my target audience is, how I relate to everyone in the room and what is the difference between "Craft Art" and "Fine Art". This is a fairly heated topic in the art world and tends to stir emotions and turn heads. Some people LOATHE their work beng called "Craft Art" and some people accept it and outright accept it whole-heartedly as their professions. Either way, I can understand and appreciate the arguements that can be made.

My opinion on the matter is mine and mine alone, but im sure many of you reading this will agree with certain points or at least understand certain points and why they are made.

Well, lets jump right on into this shall we?

First, lets address the topic at hand. What is the difference between Craft-Art and Fine-Art? To me, the differences can be anything from subtle to very obvious and common sense.

For example-

^^^^^ This is a handmade basket

^^^^^ This is a hand-painted painting of a basket

This is a more subtle case between Craft-Art and Fine-Art.

One is an actual basket that is hand-made and functionable [it carries things] and the other is purely made for decoration and for viewing pleasure.

The differences may be obvious, but the seperation between the two is subtle. The painting of the basket is still highly decorative in nature, being that it is a highly realistic rendering of a still-life seen within nature purely for the decorative aspect. So at first glance these two things may seem fairly indistinguishable but the very fact that the actual basket was made with the intention to carry things and has a function beyond aesthetic beauty makes it Craft-Art whereas the painting of the basket serves no other purpose beyond decoration of the home and visual pleasure to the viewer.

The fact that theyre both "basket-oriented" objects makes them seem highly similar, and in that regard, they are, but the fact that the very nature and intention of both of these objects are fairly different seperates them into the two different categories.

This is a simpler comparison/ contrast between Craft-Art and Fine-Art.

A more intricate example-

^^^^^ This is art that doesnt really have a function, but at the same time its sole purpose isnt strictly just viewing pleasure. This is art that can be worn for decoration as well as be appreciated for aesthetic beauty.

^^^^^ This is art that essentially has no purpose beyond viewer admiration. It wasnt designed to be worn, it doesnt carry anything, it serves no physical or mechanichal purpose, it simply sits there and pleases the eye.

This is a more gray tone in between the polar black and white between Craft-Art and Fine-Art

While the necklace may have a semi-function and is able to be viewed for its beauty at the same time it still leans towards the Craft side since its essential purpose is a physical one [to dangle from someones neck as a physical decoration of beauty] whereas a painting and a sculpture serves essentially no physical purpose beyond physical beauty and in some cases thought provocation.

Essentially what im getting at here with these two comparisons of necklaces and baskets with paintings and sculptors is that two of these things represent Craft-Art and two of these things represent Fine-Art. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with either side or that any of these four examples are "lesser" arts. I am merely trying to discern and distinguish the differences between the two, how they relate and explore examples of each as well as all of the gray tones in between.

Craft-Art tends to have a physical purpose of some sort as well as being aesthetically appealing.

Fine-Art tends to not serve a physical purpose and is essentially purely for viewing pleasure and from time to time thought provocation.

There are gray tones in between these polar sides, but thats the gist of it.

Now that we have covered the basics, lets discuss the role of each type of art and the aspect of "decoration"each type entails.


Craft-Art has been around since the dawn of creative use of resources, or "Art", in the form of necklaces, bracelets, ceramics and various hunting tools and body ornaments.

Craft-Art tends to have a physical purpose of some sort as its primary function/ purpose while still eing able to be appreciated aesthetically. The goal or "meaning" of Craft-Art is to decorate ourselves, our everyday tools, and our homes with things that we can use everyday that say something about us or the world we live in.


^^^^^ These pillows are things that you can use daily to rest against as well as a decoration in your home to say something about you/ your home. In this case the "JOY" message might uplift your spirits and lighten up your home.

The purpose of these pillows main function is to have a cushion to rest against, with aesthetic appreciation as a side-dish.

^^^^^ This is a knitted outfit made for a cat. Sure, its a creative and aesthetically admirable thing but the main function/ urpose of this object is still meant to be worn by this kitten. It might have personal significance to the owner and be "cute" to many beyond the purpose of simply "clothing a cat". But the essential function of this is to be used as a piece of clothing.

In conclusion, Craft-Art is art that is made with a repetitive purpose in mind. In otherwords a necklace is made to be worn as a necklace, a pillow is made to be used as a cushion and a basket is made to be used to carry things. No matter how they are personalized or decorated, their main purpose and intention was sealed at the start of its creation.

Craft-Art is made as a way to take everyday used objects and decorate them in order to enrich and decorate our lives in a creative way.

Craft-Art is all around us, always has been and always will be.


^^^^^Paleolithic bone necklace
^^^^^ Paleolithic bone flute


Fine-Art, like Craft-Art, has been around since the dawn of the creative process and is what helps society grow and shapes a culture.

Fine-Arts main purpose is viewers pleasure. The painting, and the Sculptures main purpose is to please the eye, there may be extra purposes such as thught provocation or reflection on a certain time period or event but the essential purpose is viewers pleasure and there tends to be zero physical use for Fine-Art beyond its visual appeal.

The goal of Fine-Art, like Craft-Art, is to decorate our lives to reflect ourselves and the world we live in, but in a different way. Where Craft-Art focuses on the everyday object and decorating things that we already use daily that have physical purpose beyond viewing pleasure, Fine-Art aims to solely be for viewing pleasure and is often done purely to reflect on a certain topic or a certain culture/ way of life.

Paintings and Sculptors are done with pure reflection of something in mind. There are various styles and techniques that highlight this greatly from the likes of Realism reflecting real-life events in a highly realistic setting, Abstraction reflecting color and composition and texture to stir emotions and speak personally to the viewer and many many many other different styles and techniques in between.

Here are some examples-

^^^^^ This is a realistic/ Classical sculpture done by Michelangelo during the 1600's to highlight the Renaissance period and the beauty of the human body and human mind and what it can achieve. This sculpture has ZERO purpose beyond viewing pleasure. The sole purpose of this sculpture is for aesthetic beauty to stir emotions and make one think.

^^^^^ This is a purely abstract painting done by Jackson Pollock during the 1940's during the Abstract-Expressionist movement. This painting is purely made up of color, composition and texture. Not only does this painting not serve a physical purpose, it doesnt even have a recognizable pattern/ picture to view. This kind of Fine-Art is more about stirring emotions through pure color, texture and composition.

^^^^^ This is a Surrealist painting done by Rene magritte during the early 1900's when Surrealism started to take off. This painting is recognisable, but at the same time is bizzar in the sense that it is a real-life setting warped into something else from the artists imagination. There is absolutely no other purpose for this other than viewer admiration, in fact in surrealism viewers admiration delves into thought provocation most of the time taking everyday things and warping them to reflect an imaginary world or a personal idea or vision.

In conclusion, Fine-Art is art with the intention of not only decoration and viewing pleasure but as a way to reflect, admire and question the world around us. Fine-Art essentially doesnt have a physical purpose outside of being "Art" . In other words a painting and a sculpture of an event in history are made solely for visual pleasure and reflection of that event. They arent made to be worn, carry things, hold items, or be used as a cushion etc. They are made to solely be viewed and admired for what they are. Although you CAN take a pre-existing sculpture or a painting and create a "Craft" out of it via Photo Print-reproduction, but thats another story and essentially shows that a pillow is always made to be a pillow, a painting is always a painting. The main focus of a pillow is to be a cushion, the main focus of a painting varies from painting to painting.

Fine-Art has been around for a very long time and is here to stay.


^^^^^Paleolithic cave paintings

^^^^^ Paleolithic cave sculpture

In Conclusion

In conclusion, Craft-Art and Fine-Art may be fairly different and have different aspects to them but essentially they come together at the end of the day to serve the same purpose of creating and uplifting a society/ culture.

To enrich and decorate our lives in a meaningful and creative way that reflects us and the world around us.

Feel free to chime in and give me your opinions


-Ryan Demaree

I am also an artist


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