TERMINOLOGY & DEFINITIONS

While these terms have different formally-denotated definitions, they overlap considerably in terms of their connotations, that is, the emotions or meanings the terms imply...


"ART"

An activity or product done by people with a communicative or aesthetic purpose—something that expresses an idea, an emotion or, more generally, a world view.

  • "Artist"

A person engaged in an activity related to creating art, practicing the arts, or demonstrating an art.

  • "Artisan"

A person skilled in making a product by hand; a skilled worker or craftsman; a worker in a skilled trade; a skilled manual worker who uses tools and machinery in a particular craft; a person who displays great dexterity.

  • "Fine Art"

A visual art considered to have been created primarily for aesthetic and intellectual purposes, often by formally- trained makers, and judged for its beauty and meaningfulness; specifically, painting, sculpture, drawing, watercolor, graphics, and architecture.

Visual art made in the context of folk culture. Sometimes this is termed "naïve art," meaning visual art created by a person who lacks the formal education and training of professional or studio artists. Another common term is "outsider art," indicating its creation by self-taught or naïve art makers. Typically, those labeled as outsider artists have little or no contact with the mainstream art world or art institutions. Definitions of "folk art" vary, but often the objects have practical utility of some kind, rather than being exclusively decorative.


"Folk Art" is very much a
catchall term, often simplistically equated to "folk crafts," particularly when aesthetics are emphasized by the creator or viewer. Taking the broadest possible view: the Museum of International Folk Art claims that this term encompasses art that "may be decorative or utilitarian, may be used every day or reserved for high ceremonies, is handmade, may include handmade elements, as well as new, synthetic, or recycled components, may be made for use within a community of practice or may be produced for sale as a form of income and empowerment, may be learned formally or informally or be self-taught, may include intangible forms of expressive culture like dance, song, poetry, and foodways, is traditional, reflects shared cultural aesthetics and social issues, and is of, by, and for the people; all people, inclusive of class, status, culture, community, ethnicity, gender, and religion. Moreover, since traditions are dynamic, traditional folk art may change over time and may include innovations in tradition."


See also the extended discussion "Concepts in Folk Art" in Wikipedia for a wide-ranging historical overview oriented mainly towards these terms and concepts in the United States.


"CRAFT"

A pastime or profession that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. Producers of "craft" may term their products as "art." BUT: the term "craft" is often MISUSED in advertising as a marketing term for mass produced items.

  • "Contemporary Crafts"

The diverse and eclectic artistic crafts of today, produced or conceived in the second half of the 20th century or in the 21st century. Contemporary artists work in a globally influenced, culturally diverse, and technologically advancing world. Their art is a dynamic combination of materials, methods, concepts, and subjects that continue the challenging of boundaries that was already well underway in the 20th century.

This is not a usual term in the world of crafts or arts, but it is meant to designate formally-learned craft practices (also known as "studio crafts" or sometimes as "contemporary crafts"). This level of practice revolves around selectivity (i.e., juried and judged selection for exhibition) and formal training.

Sometimes equated with "traditional crafts," or with "visual arts," since the products of craft production are viewable.

  • "Handicrafts"

Artisanal handicrafts or "handmades," are any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by one's hand (hence the term handicraft) or by using only simple tools like scissors, carving implements, or hooks. Some crafters refer to this category as "handmade arts and crafts." Synonyms for "handmade" may include: "handcrafted," "handwrought," "hand-crafted," "handicraft," "homemade," "homespun," "homebrew," "homegrown," "self-made," or "do-it-yourself" — though each of these carries a different an unique connotation.

Practices which employ manual dexterity and skill, and an understanding of traditional materials, designs and techniques to make or repair useful things.

See: Towards a Definition of Heritage Crafts by Hillary Jennings

Traditional craft tends to generate craft objects out of necessity or for ceremonial use, often with reference to an expressive tradition based in a folk group, locale, or community.

  • "Studio Crafts"

"Studio craft" is the practice of craft methodology in an artist's studio or atelier. Studio craft produces craft objects at the whim of the maker or intended owner. These objects are at most only desirable for use and often lack any utility.

  • "Rural Crafts"
    "Rural crafts" are the products of traditional crafts production that is carried on, simply for everyday practical use, in the agricultural countryside. Once widespread and commonplace, the survival of some rural crafts is threatened. Rural crafts are not typically considered part of arts and crafts, as they are produced for a practical means, and not for leisure.