Is wood working art?

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Forum topic by doyoulikegumwood posted 11-06-2010 08:03 PM 2286 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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384 posts in 4015 days

11-06-2010 08:03 PM

so here’s why i ask soon sadly a 4 year battle with my mortgage company is coming to a close. and am looking for the the next step in my life. A new place to live and work so my thought, living in the art filled area of the Twin cities was an art loft.

So far i have come to the conclusion that building a fine wood project isn’t art according to those who paint, dance, and sing.

but also here’s my other question what are the down falls with living and working all in one space similar to this one so far this co-op has been the most responsive to my plan.

any thought would be great


-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

28 replies so far

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 2879 days

#1 posted 11-06-2010 08:26 PM

I’m with Dixie.
If your trying to call your work art for the sake of getting into an arty condo? I would think again.
I see you have a bandsaw. The noise will not be allowed. If your doing one of originals with only un-powered hand tools you may have a case.
I’ve had customers call what I do as art.
They have said that I’m an artist with wood. That’s fine for them to say.
I know that I’m an artisan.


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3006 days

#2 posted 11-06-2010 09:09 PM

I guess thats why they call it Arts and Crafts. I’m not about to say who is an artist or not, anymore would I say someone was a woodworker or not. It would depend on what kind of fine woodworking you would consider to be art. I would image if you were going to lets say just do inlay work, which can be done very artfully, the art loft might work. If your going to be using a lot of woodworking equipment I don’t think it would be wise to habituate in the same space, given the nature of the medium being used. I admit we all have our creature comforts in the shop, but I wouldn’t want to live in my shop. As a woodworker I would describe myself as a Utilitarian Craftsman.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View shipwright's profile


7992 posts in 2820 days

#3 posted 11-07-2010 06:01 AM

I have an acquaintance who is the art editor for the local daily newspaper. When I finished my Oops! project I asked him if he thought it could be deemed “art” and what it might be worth. As I’ve seen this kind of question asked in one way or another several times here, I’ll attach his answer. It is an interesting view from the art community’s side.

I had a look at the cabinet with the veneer spilled on it. Obviously, a “beyond the call of duty” bit of woodworking, with lots of skill and plenty of imagination. I have no idea how much such a thing should cost. Anywhere from the price of a sidetable at Sager’s to the price of a sculpture by Henry Moore, I suppose.

That aside, the question – is it art, or just nice furniture? Somewhere between the two. In the modern world of “what is art”, you find the answer generally includes photo+text, installation, video, and performance. Furniture, no matter what clever idea informs it, is unlikely to escape from the (dreaded) category of craft. If it is part of a much larger body of work and can be seen as an expression of some larger philosophy of yours, it may become art in the modern definition (which is all about ideas, more than objects, it seems). As a one-off, it is a brilliant and clever thing and depends on someone falling in love with it, and not a gallery, or Gallery, getting on board to promote you as some sort of intellectual.

All that, of course, is neither here nor there in Cowichan Bay, and I hope it won’t affect your creative endeavours, which deserve to be encouraged, and WILL be encouraged by people who freely admit they know nothing about ART.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3746 days

#4 posted 11-08-2010 03:00 AM

I have seen too many pieces of wood in art galleries around the world for wood working to not be considered art.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3810 days

#5 posted 11-08-2010 04:03 AM

Depends on your definition of “art”. Webster defines art as creativity, and also as doing a skill to a superior level. Todays world has many proclaiming things as “art” that only has a basis in the “skill” of disgusting people.

As for as if you will be happy living there, it depends on how well you feel you can exist among the other inhabitants in that locale. If it strikes your muse, do it, and maybe their muse will inspire yours.

Bottom line: Can you afford it? Can you tolerate the community? Will living there contribute to your dream of being considered an artist?

If the answer to the first or second question is “no”, find another place. If yes, than its up to you to figure out how to take your skill at woodworking and turn it into something those you respect call art.

Realize that many of those today called noted “artists” lived and died in poverty and had miserably lives. Their talent was never recognized while they could enjoy it. Also realized that a lot more of their companions lived and died in poverty, had miserably lives and were never recognized as artists.

All the woodworkers on this site may admire your skill, but they aren’t the ones who will pay you for it, because they will endeavor to do the same themselves. The ones that may pay are the ones who will call you an artist, but they will only do so if someone else of stature deems your work art. Those of stature that deem your work art will not pay you for it, but will instead expect some form of gratitude from you for being recognized as one by their lofty selves.



-- Go

View bent's profile


311 posts in 3692 days

#6 posted 11-08-2010 04:07 AM

i think art is more about skill, creativity and expression than the medium itself. most people can sing, dance, paint, take photographs or even woodwork to some degree. but not everyone that does these things is an artist. it’s how it’s done that dictates whether it’s art or not. so is woodworking art? if it’s a creative and skillfully built piece, i feel like it’s just as much a work of art as any other medium. to be so exclusive as to say that no woodworking qualifies as art is as foolish as saying that all painting, dancing, photography, music, etc. is art.

that being said, the studio co-op looks like a cool idea. good luck with it!

View dbhost's profile


5723 posts in 3255 days

#7 posted 11-08-2010 04:20 AM

I have no clue where you get the impression that woodworking isn’t an art. Woodwork, including furniture design, and the actual production of such pieces are every bit as much of an art as painting, or playing a musical instrument.

I do all three…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3550 days

#8 posted 11-08-2010 04:27 AM

If you need convincing that wood projects can be art, well, then you have not been paying attention.

Look up, marco, milo, andy, jonker, triumph, pounders, jordan and those are just off the top of my head.

Real question is maybe, is your woodworking art? In the eye of the beholder.

Art does not necessarily mean good or accepted by others. You are, therefore, you art…...........

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

View Dark_Lightning's profile


3165 posts in 3131 days

#9 posted 11-08-2010 04:35 AM

mtnwild has named off more artists than I was going to name off! I had andy, triumph, jordan and trifern in mind, right off the bat. No one can tell me what they do isn’t art. I’ll have to go and check out those others.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 3591 days

#10 posted 11-08-2010 04:36 AM

One word: Sawdust.

Unless you’re going to old school/hand tool route, you’re living/working area is going to be full of it.

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View JuniorJoiner's profile


487 posts in 3463 days

#11 posted 11-08-2010 04:41 AM

Art does not necessarily have function, the only requirement of art is to inspire us to think.
thus woodworking can be art, as most of us aspire to. the main goal of woodworking is usually function first, but, as the main goal of this site, good work to inspire others.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3097 days

#12 posted 11-08-2010 04:42 AM

It’s been said that “art is in the eye of the beholder”. The implication is that art is some divine achievement and it’s quite prestigious for one’s work to be considered art. WRONG. When a kindergartner draws a picture of a flower using crayons he/she is engaged in art. Art is nothing more than creating something that is aesthetically pleasing to someone else.

Without art, every table, chair or other piece of furniture would be designed for maximum functionality with no regard for appearance.

We woodworkers have it easy. We work with wood which, by its nature is very pretty to look at. To make art all we have to do is reveal the beauty that is in the wood while making something functional (or not).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View bent's profile


311 posts in 3692 days

#13 posted 11-08-2010 04:49 AM

“Without art, every table, chair or other piece of furniture would be designed for maximum functionality with no regard for appearance.”

it’s interesting how shaker furniture fits into that context.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3698 days

#14 posted 11-08-2010 05:41 AM

With some of the stuff our county gov’t has paid good money for that is called art, I do not see how any nice piece of wood couldn’t be. We have an earth sculpture that looks like an abandon gravel pit or to maybe a copper mine :-)) I saw a standing, rusting steel “C” in Tacoma the other day that has what looks to be some white stone lined up across it. Art?? I guess whose to say anything is or isn’t? Seems to be very wide discretionary definition available to all who care to use the word.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Andrew's profile


709 posts in 3221 days

#15 posted 11-10-2010 07:13 PM

I think anytime you add your own personal touch to a peice, whether it is furniture, or a turning, or even a peice of wood it is art. If you are following the plans to the letter, you might be just building, but if you adjust and add, or subtract from someoneelses plans, you have put your stamp on a peice of art. I have never considered myself to be an artist, but my wife and daughter do, they argued with me one day, until I agreed. It made me feel good about what I like to do.
Good Question, I waited a week or so, cause I wanted to find out what everyone else had to say on the subject.
Good luck to you. I am located in Chanhassen, so if you need some help, or whatever, contact me.

-- Even a broken clock is right twice a day, unless, it moves at half speed like ....-As the Saw Turns

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