Let's define what it is to be a craftsman to begin with.
The artisan is the one who makes handicrafts, that is to say that craftsmanship works.
Crafts comprise, basically, works done manually and / or with little intervention of machinery, usually the result of their work are products that have a utility as an element that is used in the life of those who buy it beyond contemplation esthetic.
Etymologically, in Spanish, the word "artisan" comes from the Italian "artigiano", meaning that it exerts a mechanical art, which in turn comes from the Latin ars, artis.
You can see that the concept of art and craftsmanship are historically closely linked, we can even say that until the Renaissance, there is no clear differentiation from where the artisan ends and the artist begins.
And this differentiation begins to occur because some members of trades such as painters, sculptors, architects, etc., begin to sign their works, which they consider the fruit of their personal ingenuity.
Artist is a word that has its origin in Latin, where 'artis' is the Latin word for art and 'ist' is the suffix that refers to the professional who practices this activity.
In every work of art stands out an idea, an expression of feelings and concepts that the artist wants to express, that is its key, its essence, its intention is to bring out that idea, concept or feeling in a unique work.
This is what differentiates it from an artisanal work that besides being beautiful, is required a functional objective, it must fulfill a service, be useful for the person who acquires it.
What, then, is an artisan?
For the Dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language:
Craftsman - (2) m. and f. Person who exercises an art or craft merely mechanical, although modernly refers to who makes on their own objects with aesthetic and / or utilitarian qualities, printing them a personal seal, unlike what happens with the factory worker.
As we can see, the artisan is very much linked to the manual work he does away with the world of industrial production and serial work.
His works are done by hand or using hand tools.
An artisan is actually the opposite of an industrial worker who carries out his activity in a chain, very subject to what the machinery demands of him and which obtains predetermined results, generally subject to a predefined standard that he can not and should never abandon.
The craftsman does his work by hand or with hand tools, so you have to have some skill and ability to do your job.
The results of the work are not millimetrically the same as it usually happens in industrial production, but each piece of artisan has slight differences and even small defects with the others made by the craftsman.
This fact, far from being a problem, is usually seen as a very positive element of craftsmanship that allows us to escape from the uniformity of the mass produced.
Carrying handicrafts supposes the mastery of work techniques, many of them ancestral, that have been transmitted from generation to generation since time immemorial.
Therefore, the craftsman keeps in his know-how the essence of the trade that has been transmitted for generations until reaching the present.
The work of the artisan can be done alone, or collaborating with other people who are usually learning the trade and who can serve as assistants or apprentices.
A craftsman is often deeply rooted in their community, usually they use materials from the area where they live as raw materials and they are usually inspired by what the inhabitants of their area or region have traditionally needed.
We do not know how a world as globalized as ours will affect an activity so rooted in the traditions of the area where it was born.
And I say this inspired by the traditions and folklore of the area where they come from, because each craftsman contributes his way of seeing his craft and the world that surrounds it and is transforming and enriching it with his way of making the pieces of craftsmanship in which He works and with his own experience.
And undoubtedly the world that surrounds the artisan is increasingly wider, because the media, travel, tools such as Internet or Social Networks are elements that undoubtedly influence the artisan as much as any of us.
Each craftsman usually has his preferred materials, which in many cases print a special style, unique and particular to his creations and gives free rein to his creativity in the pieces in which he works.
The artisan usually sell directly to the public, in this aspect the presence of the Internet, has been a speaker for his work.
At the same time it has allowed him to leave his nearest environment to sell, without having to move from his work zone.
The new technologies have put the artisan very close to anyone who may be interested in his product.
This does not mean that the problems for the artisan and for the craftsmanship are over.
The competition made by products from low-cost industrial processes, with a similar appearance to artisan products, but with lower prices and generally of much lower quality, has been doing damage to crafts for decades.
Another added difficulty for artisans is the way they market their products, since it is a characteristic of craftsmanship, which is carried out in individual workshops or with few people, with low production and little capacity to reach a large market.
In this regard the emergence of the Internet has given new tools to try to gain a foothold in the market with your product.
Sometimes it happens that handicrafts are made by order to deliver a product to suit the client, such as a jewel designed to measure for someone in particular, of a certain color and with certain measures.
But generally the work of the artisan is very autonomous in his way of making the products, which are usually to his liking and in the way he has to understand his work.
The work of artisans has always been related to quality, to work well done, and even to exclusivity.
Many companies in the luxury sector in recent years have had this worker profile to get finished or unique and exclusive pieces with which to enrich their collections and brands.
But it is equally true that artisan purposes are often more artistic than personal gain.
It is the love for work and its way of doing things following a tradition and taking care of quality, which make them move forward.
What is it really to be a craftsman?
- We have those who affirm that the artisan is a professional who stands at a midpoint between design and art.
- For others it is the person who is in charge of giving continuity to the traditional trades, in which the aesthetic has a prominent role but the practical sense of the elaborated object is also important.
The goldsmith, carpenter, ceramist, basketmaker, cabinetmaker would be, among many others, representative of this idea of craftsman as a continuation of a long tradition.
Both, in my opinion, are right because a good artisan is both; someone who, starting from tradition and with artisanal techniques, is capable of achieving beautiful products that are not exempt from design and artistic qualities.
Problems in the future of the craftsman.
The competition made by products from low-cost industrial processes, with a similar appearance to handmade products, but with lower prices and always with much lower quality, have been putting this sector in trouble for years.
But there is always hope and being a sector in full transformation, the decisive thing will be that it conserves that balance between the manual and the traditional, without stopping taking a step towards the design and the modernity that the society seems that it demands to him.
And how do you see the world of the craftsman? Is it or not in transformation? What interests you in your work?
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