Fine Arts Vs. Craft, Is There A Difference?

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The differences between fine arts and crafts can be confusing. The lines between both of these terms have become more blurred over time.

Fine art is a broad term that encompasses many art forms, from the visual to the written word. Dance, music, theatre, painting, writing, poetry, and sculpture are all under the fine art umbrella. Craft is about handmade objects and usually refers to quilting, knitting, pottery, sewing, and woodworking. Today, many artisans are creating unique and exciting items with the creativity required to be considered fine art.

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Fine Art Vs. Craft

Understanding the distinction between fine art and crafts can be somewhat perplexing, as the distinction between these concepts has become less distinct over time.

Fine art is an expansive category that includes various artistic expressions, ranging from visual arts to literary creations. This category encompasses diverse forms such as dance, music, theater, painting, writing, poetry, and sculpture, all of which fall under the umbrella of fine art.

On the other hand, crafts are typically associated with handcrafted objects and are often linked to quilting, knitting, pottery, sewing, and woodworking. These crafts emphasize the skill and artistry of creating functional or decorative items by hand.

When we look at the definitions of fine art and craft, we can see some distinct differences and reasons why they are not the same.

Fine Art Definition

Fine art is an inclusive term that encompasses all kinds of art. It can become confusing as fine art contains so many different art forms.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Fine art as:

“…creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content.
“the convergence of popular culture and fine art.”

Oxford Dictionary

The fine art umbrella includes art such as painting, sculpture, photography, music, dance, theatre, animation, poetry, writing, film, and many other art forms. Fine art is about a creative, aesthetic skill with intellectual content.

Not all fine art is visual, as it can be a written form of art such as writing or poetry.

Today in the digital world, the lines of fine art have become more blurred than in the past as fine art can also encompass arts as graphic arts, visual arts, and other kinds of skills using technology.

A great example of how fine art and the digital merge was when I recently saw the Immersive Van Gogh exhibition. The show was Van Gogh’s art projected on the floors and ceiling of a room and put together with music. Art as Immersive Van Gogh can also be considered fine art as part of the visual arts.

Fine arts usually contain many skills, and someone is trained in their art form. Many Universities have a department of Fine Arts.

To learn more about Fine Arts, read our blog What Is The Difference Between Fine Arts and Visual Arts? by clicking this link.

Craft Definition

The word craft is also an extensive term that is used a lot. A craft can involve a lot of different objects that are made by hand—everything from quilting, crocheting, woodworking, scrapbooking, and sewing, to name a few.

The Oxford Dictionary defines craft as:

“…an activity involving skill in making things by hand.
“the craft of bookbinding”

Oxford Dictionary

A craft is essential to any activity that people do by hand. The Oxford Dictionary’s example is bookbinding, which can be considered a craft when books are bound by hand.

Often, a craft can be made by hand for the home and a decorative purpose. A craft can also be useful like someone has a craft to knit hats or a sweater to be worn on a cold winter day.

Crossover Between Fine Arts and Crafts

It gets confusing that sometimes crafts and fine arts are crossovers. I have been in art competitions where people submitted quilts as their art form and won or placed well.

Even though quilting is usually considered a craft, in this case, the quilter used their creativity and produced a work so fine it was supposed to be a work of art or fine art. Another is in Vietnam; they have the art form of embroidery for art pieces. These embroidered pieces are so finely done that they look like an actual piece of painted canvas.

In cases like this, the craft is a fine art because of the skill and creativity that the artist uses to produce their work, and it becomes a fine art. A fine artist can also use things that were once considered a craft in their art.

An example is decoupage, which is usually considered a craft but has also been used in fine art.

Differences Between Fine Art and Craft

The line between crafts and fine art is blurred. About 30 or 40 years ago, it was more defined in that a craft had a function, and art was considered non-functional.

But then, many artisans became very creative, turning their crafts into art. Also, at the same time, fine artists started to use elements of craft in their art, so the lines between crafts and fine art got even more blurred.

So, one of the best ways to define this today is in skill level. A person can have a craft that will be considered an art form or fine art due to their level of creativity and what they are creating; in other words, their craft turned into a fine art form.

An artist can also use a craft in their fine art.

Fine art requires a high level of skill and creativity. The artist is doing something new with their art form in design, materials, form, shape, or function.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is craft art?

Craft art refers to the creation of handmade objects using traditional skills and techniques, often with a functional or decorative purpose.

What is fine art?

Fine art encompasses artistic creations that are primarily intended for aesthetic and conceptual purposes, often produced by professional artists.

What is the main difference between craft art and fine art?

The main difference lies in the intended purpose and approach towards creating the artwork. Craft art focuses on functionality and craftsmanship, while fine art emphasizes aesthetic and conceptual expression.

Can craft art be considered fine art?

Yes, certain craft art pieces can be considered fine art if they possess exceptional artistic qualities and transcend their functional aspects to evoke deeper aesthetic and conceptual meanings.

What are some examples of craft art?

Examples of craft art include pottery, woodworking, glassblowing, textile arts (such as quilting and weaving), jewelry making, and ceramics.

What are some examples of fine art?

Examples of fine art include painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, photography, installation art, performance art, and video art.

Is there a difference in the level of skill required for craft art and fine art?

Both craft art and fine art require a high level of skill, but the specific skills and techniques employed may differ. Craft art often focuses on mastering traditional craftsmanship techniques, while fine art may involve a broader range of artistic skills and experimentation.

Is there a difference in the materials used in craft art and fine art?

The materials used in craft art and fine art can overlap, but there may be differences depending on the specific medium. Craft art often utilizes materials such as wood, clay, fabric, metal, and glass, while fine art materials can include a wider range such as paint, canvas, bronze, and mixed media.

Can craft art and fine art be combined in artistic practices?

Absolutely! Many artists incorporate elements of craft art and fine art in their work, blurring the boundaries between the two. This interdisciplinary approach allows for unique and innovative expressions that bridge the gap between craft and fine art.

What Is The Difference Between Shape And Form In Art?

The word shape mainly refers to flat, simple 2-D drawings; the shape of a 2-D drawing would have a length and width. A form is more complex and is 3-D, such as a sphere, cube, or cone. The word form has a dual meaning in art, referring to various elements that make up art. The form is essential for Formalism, abstract art, and biomorphic art.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Is The Difference Between Shape And Form In Art?.

What Is The Difference Between Fine Arts and Visual Arts?

Fine art is a broad term used to describe many different types of art; one of the arts under the umbrella of fine art is visual arts. Fine arts can include music, theatre, dance, literature, and other types of art. In contrast, Visual art is about only arts of a visual nature, such as painting, sculpture, or filmmaking.

By clicking this link, you can discover more by reading What Is The Difference Between Fine Arts and Visual Arts?.

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