Wednesday, May 7, 2008

vocab vent

I wanted to vent/knitpick about terminology. I *loathe* when people refer to what I do as *crafts*. I knit and design for a living. This is my job. If you can't see it as art, then at least say that I'm *creative*. Not crafty. That's all I'm saying.

Whenever I hear the word 'craft' or the term 'crafty', the only thing that comes to mind is what young gradeschool children make from pipecleaners and construction paper during art class. But for something that's decorative, functional, or requires some sort of skill, that goes above and beyond 'crafty'. Even if it's not the most beautiful thing or even your style, it's at the very least a good labour of love and creative, if not art.

I suppose we view 'art' as, typically, a painting or sculpture, a photograph, or maybe a very epic movie or theatre piece or music. We can even appreciate musicians, actors, directors, photographers and so forth as artists. But what about other things, to which creativity is a must, do we see those things as art?

When a chef, for example, creates a dish, it's not just a bunch of random ingredients slopped together and thrown into a plate. A lot of work goes into a recipe. Colours, spices, food textures, among other things are all considered when putting a dish together. Even what audience it's going to be served to, what it'll be served with, and which bottle of wine will go perfect with that meal. And even expanding on this idea: do we appreciate the layout of the table that this meal is served on? Do we just view a table setting as just a table setting? Do we appreciate the details of the napkins, cutlery, napkin rings, serving dishes, and centerpieces? Isn't all that a creative artform unto itself?

We probably don't as much as we should. It's not a form of snobbery, but appreciating the planning into putting these seemingly every day items together. It takes planning, if you consider the time it takes to create, plan ahead, shop, cook and display each meal.

I think if we all took just a simple minute - a mere sixty seconds - out of our day to appreciate the art and creativity that surrounds us, we'd love the world we live in that much more.

Everything is art. Anything that requires a fiber of designing effort, is art. Buildings, bridges, roads, cars, meals, interior decorating, clothes (from designing through to picking outfits), hair styles, jewelry, books, websites, everything - it's all art.

Would the world be a better place if we took that single minute a day to appreciate the creativity that surrounds us? Would we complain less, fight less, criticise less, or even pollute less? Would we become less materialistic if we spent a few minutes appreciating the work that went into each thing we own, or that we receive?

Do we prefer store bought gifts or homemade ones, for example? How many of us felt disappointment at a handmade gift? Do we view them as 'cheap' because they weren't bought in a store? I've often (more often than I'd like to admit) invested hours into making gifts, to have them be received and fill the backs of closets for years before they're thrown away, never to be used for their intented purpose in the meantime.

I suppose, growing up without the latest gaming equipment or name-brand-anything, that I tend to value some of the smaller things in life. Even at my wedding, as far as gifts were concerned, what stood out more is the wedding gifts that were made for us like the bonbonieres (among other things) more so than the store-bought gifts. Five years later, I could barely remember who bought us what, but I remember who made us what. I still can't imagine the hours it took to put 100+ pieces together for bonbonieres, or the hours it took to make all the other gifts.

Appreciate the creative world around you, is all I'm trying to say. Just going to the store and buying something - as thoughtful as it may be - requires a lot less energy than it takes someone to actually make something. Please don't think that $200 or more for a handknit sweater is too expensive, rather consider their labour and not just their cost of materials.

If I consider all my hours of research, design, failure, redesign, and success, it's not surprising that it sometimes takes me a week to design a mere hat or gloves. I'm not even going to fathom the energy I'm currently investing in designing an original throw.

Revise how you see art. Remember the hours, sweat and tears it takes to create. And whatever you do, please don't call me crafty. :)

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