Art or craft?

Some Christian artists believe that anything done for God is acceptable, even if it’s artistically flawed, if it quotes enough scripture or something. And others confuse spirit and soul, and believe that as long as it stirs your aesthetic sensibilities, it’s acceptable as Christian art. One approach is to think of ourselves as craftsmen instead of artists. Our job is to make well what needs making. Our job isn’t to fit some stereotype of an artist, or to expose our inmost expressions (express our fascinating self) to the world.

Often artists are taught that they’re supposed to be self-centered, that nothing must stop the creative flow. Before the 19th century, all art was a craft, a trade, a job. You served as an apprentice under another artist, just as a blacksmith served under an older blacksmith. You made paintings or wrote chorales for specific uses, not for self-expression.

I don’t believe that art is just decoration or Muzak, but I think it’s healthy for an artist to seek excellence in their craft, looking outside themselves instead of looking within.

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