Craft can be a noun, a trade that you practice, an art that you make, or a special skill you acquire. But, more romantically, it is a verb, to produce, to make, to craft with skill and a careful attention to detail. To craft is to do, to fight inertia, to say the world is not yet done, that this thing that we make is not yet good enough. The notion of craft is about putting things in motion, and similarly action is what defines all of those involved with Crafty.
As the media and corporations talk about the work-life balance, the craftsperson sees the two as inseparable. The line between the two blurs into one as they merge so homogeneously as to not allow a split. The life informs the work, the work informs the life; the craftsperson lives their life through their hands and their experiences.
In a world that is driven by technology, the role of craft has never been more critical. Although machines have in many ways made life easier, they have also removed the one-to-one correlation between humans and the things we make. A pen meeting paper to form a line or a word, the accidental variation in a line that makes your heart sing. Imagination meeting good old-fashioned blood, sweat, and tears. Soul. The missing ingredient of craft.
But craftsmanship doesn't pertain just to the handmade. Instead, craftsmanship is a basic human impulse; the desire to do a job well for its own sake. A craftsman is engaged in their work. Time melts away as the mind and hand become occupied in a search for closure; a closure that can only come when we arrive at a sense of completeness in a piece of work. The moment when, as Milton Glaser said, "Just enough is more."
Craft is all around us, giving us pleasure as well as serving a function. It is as inspirational as it is functional. In between the bustle of our daily lives exist the remnants of a bygone era. The faded, hand painted logos on the side of a building, the thick sheet metal of an old car, the carved masonry of a courthouse downtown. All these things hearken back to an age when taking your time equaled quality. In both a physical and intellectual sense, we built things to last. Faster didn't mean better&and taking your time didn't mean being lazy. More often, it meant quality.
In our rush to do things better, faster, and cheaper we've lost our way. Typically, the more time you put into something, the better it becomes. And the better it becomes, the more you can charge for it. But as speed and efficiency become the primary criteria for the judgment of productivity, it becomes more and more difficult for many to justify craftsmanship. C. Wright Mills, an influential and radical social theorist and critic of twentieth century America noted, "As tool becomes machine, man is estranged from the intellectual potentialities and aspects of work; and each individual is routinized in the name of increased and cheaper per unit productivity."
In many ways, in our constant search for the elusive notion of 'free time' we've declared a war on work. We are always trying to speed up things. Our computers, our internet connections, our lives. Shortcuts are revered. And somehow through all of our advancements in technology we've lost something crucial to our existence. There is something about the act of pressing a button that is dissociative and perhaps in the process of so much button pressing, many of us have forgotten about the importance of the relationship between the hand and the head.
Crafty urges us all to reconnect ourselves with our work and to become wholly involved in what we do. There is a quiet satisfaction in things that are well considered, well composed. Engage yourself in your work in and let the satisfactions of making things be their own reward. Then, and only then, can you produce work that can delight, amuse, inspire&and maybe even change the world.
Designer / Writer