What is art: the chronically low confidence of a crafter

July 31, 2022 |
A person in flannel works on their craft in front of a brick wall.

For quite some time, crafters have been fed this idea that homemade is somehow inferior to more traditional art mediums. That accessible art wasn’t truly art. That something functional couldn’t also be artistic. And I believe it has created a plague of low self esteem and a prevalent sensation of Imposter Syndrome for many artists and crafters today. 

Pie art by Inspired to Taste featuring the Mona Lisa on a real pie
This artwork by Inspired to Taste is not only dazzling–it’s delicious. Mona Lisa Pie Photo credit: Inspired to Taste

Growing up in a creative world

Even growing up in a household where creativity was encouraged and celebrated, the world gave me a distinct impression that art was something decorative, something expensive, something that was unobtainable for most of the population. That is what made it special. That is what made it art. 

I will be honest with you, there were many times when I wondered if it was just me.  Was I letting my own doubt and low self esteem cloud the way I viewed my artistic endeavors? Was it all in my head, this feeling that the artwork I created wasn’t “real art.” That I was just a little kid making a big mess of things while The Real Artists were changing the world.

Knit hat by Alabaster Purl on a person who is working in their shop
Alabaster Purl pours their heart into every single stitch of their knitted art. Photo credit: Alabaster Purl

You are not alone.

The unfortunate reality is: this feeling of being “less than” is a sensation of judgement that plagues many artists and crafters throughout their entire artistic journey.  And, honestly, it doesn’t isn’t just afflict new artists, folks who are still trying to learn their techniques and discover their place in the art world. It affects everyone. I know many extremely talented, experienced artists that still question their own art, self value, and place within the artistic community. What is this narrative that we have been fed, that accessible art, art made to be experienced and enjoyed by the masses, isn’t actually art?

“In art, what we want is the certainty that one spark of original genius shall not be extinguished.”

– Mary Cassatt
Workspace shows string art in progress with lots of tools surrounding
String art in progress by Lil Bits of Mona. Monica’s work untangles the traditional expectations for art. Photo credit: Lil Bits of Mona

So what is art?

We have been told that not everyone can create art, when in reality, the very nature of art is that anyone can create it, and anyone can find it beautiful. Art is subjective and transformative.  Art is everything (and nothing). If art can be a red rectangle painted on a yellow background, why then can it not be a beautifully poured, cut and handcrafted bar of soap? Why can it not be an adorable cookie decorated in the perfect likeness of a beautiful bouquet?  Why can it not be a crocheted hat that someone carefully crafted for hours, counting out each and every stitch? Why can it not be any piece of handiwork that someone has delicately poured their soul into? 

leather bag created by Rugged Handcrafted Leather
Rugged Handcrafted Leather Goods creates art on a medium that is meant to be enjoyed and used daily. Photo credit: Rugged Handcrafted Leather Goods

The voices of doubt

It took me years of creating art before I even managed to call myself an artist in the quiet depths of my own mind, and still, the word catches in my throat even now.  I have watched incredibly talented artists blossom into their work, and still, they confess to struggling with the validity of their own contributions. Why is that?

Perhaps it is the collective voices, both of our past and the extremely vocal online community, that have built an entire culture of skilled artists suffering from an internal monologue convincing them that their work will never, ever be good enough. I am throwing my voice into the vast unknown in hopes of creating a contrasting narrative to this constant chorus of self doubt. No one, not even JBobPop71 gets to determine whether your work is “real art.” And just because BobPop thinks a “kindergartener could have made that” doesn’t mean… anything. It actually means nothing at all.

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

– Andy Warhol
Tiered Decor with spring themed signs and cut outs by Doodle Moon Creations
Doodle Moon Creations likes to take their art to the next level with tiered decor that stands out. Photo credit: Doodle Moon Creations

It begins and ends with you

When you find yourself struggling against the words to describe yourself or your work, I hope you will remember this post and that some random lady on the internet already believes wholeheartedly in you and your art. Because the truth is: if you create products by hand, born from your own heart and soul and creative mind, you are an artist. I understand that might be hard to hear, hard to fully absorb until you untangle years of being told otherwise. But maybe that emotional work can begin today.

script text reads "happy crafting"
A person in flannel works on their craft in front of a brick wall.  The text around them reads "what is art? The chronic low confidence of a crafter"
Originally posted on April 11, 2022.


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