Craftsmanship is the skilled manipulation of materials in object making. The best craftsmen, artisans and artists have the ability to ‘transfigure matter,’ transforming it through hard work to reveal beauty and occasional magnificence. Throughout history humans have made things to help meet their physical, emotional, spiritual, and intellectual needs. Craftsmanship is only one aspect of art but usually involves the hard work of making art well. You can have craftsmanship without art, but seldom art without some level of craftsmanship.” Mary McCleary

Craftsmanship is becoming lost. We are living in a world where everything is about speed, from fast food to speed dating. Quality results are expected from microwave speeds. With modern technology things have become easier and faster.

As a designer, there are clients I have encountered that have a small understanding of design. Because of lack of knowledge, there can be misunderstandings about how long things take to create. One of my favorite sites to visit is Client From Hell. It is amusing to see what other designers and artists may encounter when clients lack understanding in their trade. Here is an example of an unreasonable deadline:

CLIENT: (noon) Hey, what’s your day like today? I need a 20-minute video produced for our next presentation.

ME: That’s a long video. Do you have all the materials for me?

CLIENT: Yes. We will just need to zoom in and out on parts of pictures and screen shots to be timed with the audio.

ME: And you said it’s going to be 20 minutes long?

CLIENT: Well 20 or 25. Thirty at the most.

ME: When is the due date for this project?

CLIENT: We need it finished by 5:00 this afternoon. I’ll be over there after I finish recording all the audio. We can start working on the video about 3:30.

With the creation of applications such as Instagram and Bitstrips, much conversation has been sparked on the true artistry of each. I am an Instagram user myself. I enjoy the ability to capture a moment and share a glimpse of my life with others. It is a form of expression and a place where moments become lasting memories.

Having taken a course on film photography, I have a basic understanding of the work that developing an image requires. There happens to be argument of Instagram being a cheat to photography, producing cheap and sterile images. I could understand the frustration, yet it is important to keep an open perspective. My current frustration is more toward Bitstrips. Both Instagram and Bitstrips lack the human touch and time that comes with true craftsmanship. Bitstrip is a new application that produces animated versions of the user along with a status. It worries me, as an artist, that such programs give the false idea that art is something that can be done with the push of a button. In reality an animation takes hours of research, conceptual preparation, and digitalization.

“Craftsmanship requires time, whether time spent acquiring skills or the actual time needed to make an object. But time costs money, and most of us, as either makers or consumers, want things cheap, instantly and without effort” (127).

This is where I believe that craftsmanship and the understanding of craftsmanship is becoming lost. On the other hand, Bitstrips and Instagram provide those who lack the understanding of how to create an animation and use a camera, with an outlet to their inner desire to create. Below is a video about a photographer’s reflection on Instagram. Photographer Richard Koci Hernandez shares the same belief as famous photographer Ansel Adams:

“I trust that the creative eye will continue to function, whatever technological innovations will develop.”

Photographers, embrace Instagram –

Feel free to follow me on Instagram: janerz4


2 thoughts on “Craftsmanship

  1. You have a lot of good thoughts in here Janet, and I like that you brought in a very contemporary conversation about how “instant” things are, specifically photography. I was also unfamiliar with Bitstrips- interesting, I’d be curious to see an example. Very thoughtful and I like that you brought in a variety of resources for your post as well. With all the “instant” advances, it does make one wonder what is next.

  2. I really like and resonate with your idea about how technology (Bitstrips) is portraying art to be a “push of a button” because I believe the key to great art is concept. And it does take a lot of effort and time to create an animation! Especially in Bob’s Maya class! 😛 I also agree that those kind of programs are good for people who ‘lack the understanding of how to create an animation or use a camera’, but hopefully the quality and craftsmanship can separate itself from the quicker created pieces. Go Blazos!!

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