In pre-schools, elementary schools, day camps and stay-over camps alike, ‘arts’ and ‘crafts’ are words that you have likely seen bundled together. With these two terms being packaged and sold as one generalized subject and hobby, many treat the words as interchangeable, so that when we say “art camp”, often “arts and crafts” is actually what it is taken to mean.
However, arts and crafts are not the same thing; they are actually different and distinct forms of creativity.
So if they are different, what is it that distinguishes arts from crafts, from an educational standpoint, and what’s the big fuss about anyway? Why does it really matter (or does it?)?
First Things First: Why It Matters
Education wise, arts and crafts differ in the type of instruction given, the type of skills being learned and practiced, the type of projects chosen, and the type of outcomes strived for and achieved.
Because of this, the difference between the two matters depending on what you hope your child is learning and practicing in an art class and art camp.
Alright, let's jump in.
Summed Up: Arts vs. Crafts
The main difference between the two is the end goal in creation, all other differences stem from this one.
Art is more focused on using tools and materials to express an emotion or idea, while craft is more focused on using tools and materials to create a specific tangible object or product.
With crafts, because there is a specific end goal in mind, like the caterpillar clothes pin project, there have to be specific steps that must be followed in order to reach that end.
For example, say you wanted to make a turtle using a paper plate. You might have green paint for the plate, green paper cut outs of legs and tail and head, and a couple of googly eyes.
Now in order to do this project and actually have it come out looking like the cute little turtle it's supposed to be, there are not too many variations you could make; the structures are rigid. The tail would need to be glued opposite of the head, the legs have to be glued two on each side, and the googly eyes would need to be glued next to each other on the head section.
In terms of creativity, it's possible to be creative with a craft, but the parameters of what you can be creative with are narrow, otherwise you’re making a different project.
Say, if you glued the turtle tail next to the head and put four feet next to each other on one side, and glued the googly eyes to a foot, you would not have anything close to a recognizable turtle, and so would not have actually completed the intended project.
With crafts so focused on the end result of making something that looks cool (aesthetics are part of the goal), there isn’t too much room for in-depth art learning.
Instead, you’re mostly learning how to follow directions and maybe how to re-create the craft again, while practicing fine motor skills.
While crafts are focused on making something that looks good and can be reproduced, art is not focused on either of those things.
First of all, art is not necessarily about aesthetics, as it is informed by emotion, so a work of art can still be art without being traditionally beautiful.
Secondly, art also cannot be reproduced, as artists create many different works, instead of just making the same thing over and over again (as if you were to make many paper plate turtles). As one writer put it, “There is only one true Mona Lisa, all the rest are simply imperfect copies.”
So if you’re practicing direction-following skills with crafts, what are you learning and practicing while creating art?
Great question! Let’s give an example. Let’s say we’re doing a masters study with our students. A master study is where we re-create a master artist’s work.
Waiiit, hold up! you say, Didn’t we just talk about how art can’t be re-created? And doesn’t that sound like you have the end goal in mind, aka craft?
Yes, yes, while we may be having students recreate the work (but remember, there is only one Mona Lisa), the focus in this project is never on the final outcome; it’s on the journey to get there.
Starting the project, our instructors always go in depth about the history of the piece and the artist, discussing topics like: Why is this artwork important? How did it contribute to history? What is our goal for recreating it? (For instance, we might be recreating a van Gogh to learn how to utilize various brush strokes.)
Once we begin the painting, the discussion is still on the process of the work. We may look at how an artist did a specific technique, and then use that example to walk students through learning and utilizing that technique.
In these art projects, instead of a rigid structure, students have room for their own interpretation of the technique, and their personal application shows.
We're also always talking about personal observations of a master study, asking students what they see in the work and how they can apply what they see in their own piece.
By the time we finish the project, it’s a great painting that has been informed by the artist’s own touch and understanding and usage of artistic techniques, but it’s also only the finishing touch on a long conversation about the process that went into it’s creation.
This conversation about process is a part of all of the projects that we do at Museo Art Academy. Let’s say we’re in a camp and we do an ink project of an animal. We might have an example that students can reference, but we’re also asking students to think about their work, what they’re seeing, what techniques will be used, and then to apply what they think is the best solution (within artistic reason. If there’s something that can be done in a better way artistically, we take that teaching opportunity).
In this way, you can see students are learning SO MUCH MORE than simply how to do a specific craft, or how to follow directions.
Instead, those who participate in art are learning and practicing creative problem solving, critical thinking, use of imagination, curiosity, creativity, and innovative thinking, along with artistic techniques, art elements & design principles, and art history.
Both arts and crafts can be awesome activities, but they are not necessarily equal. When choosing an art program for your child, it's a good idea to know and understand what type of projects your child will be doing to ensure that they are getting the most out of their experience.
To read more about the what your child is learning while also having a blast creating art, check out our blog about What Your Child Learns in Summer Art Camps.
But don't just read about our programs, try them out for yourself. Save your child's spot in one of our summer art camps now and let us know what you think!
Sources not directly linked in article:
Dutton, D. (2018). Denis Dutton on Art and Craft. [online] Denisdutton.com. Available at: http://www.denisdutton.com/rnz_craft.htm [Accessed 22 Mar. 2018].
Art Site. (2018). Differences between Art and Craft. [online] Available at: http://www.artsite.tv/differences-between-art-and-craft/ [Accessed 22 Mar. 2018].
Markowitz, S. (1994). The Distinction between Art and Craft. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 28(1), 55-70. doi:10.2307/3333159
Preschool Plan It. (2018). Arts VS Crafts. [online] Available at: https://www.preschool-plan-it.com/arts-vs-crafts.html [Accessed 23 Mar. 2018].
After all the deliberation that goes into choosing the right summer camp for your child, many parents want to know what they can expect from the camps they choose.
It's summer and time for fun in the sun, so you, of course, want to know your child will have a great time and enjoy what they're doing, but the best camps are the ones that can be a blast while also teaching campers valuable skills they may not even know they're learning.
Art camps are not only creative and colorful fun, but can also be a great way to keep your child's brain fresh and exercised during those long summer months. Let's take a look at all the things your child learns while making their beautiful works of art at camp.
1. Artistic Skills and Techniques
We’re sure you were hoping that by sending your child to an ART camp that they’d actually pick up some artistic skills and techniques. Not to fear, that’s first on our list!
Our art camps are like intensives in each discipline. While we seek to create curriculum that is fun and exciting for kids, we also want to make sure our campers are receiving the best in visual art instruction.
In Drawing and Painting camps, campers learn observational skills - how to take what they see in real life and transfer it to their paper. They’ll learn about perspective, about using simple shapes to outline objects, they’ll learn about lighting, and how to add values for depth, they’ll learn about color theory, how to mix colors, and how to use color to hide or enhance objects in their work.
Campers learn how to develop their spatial skills in Sculpture and Pottery camps, and how thinking three-dimensionally is very different from 2D. They’ll broaden their sense of what “sculpture” means working with a variety of different materials, and they’ll learn techniques for working with ceramic clay both on and off the wheel.
In Mixed Media camp, campers have opportunities to really extend their skills by working with a little bit of everything. Here, we take mediums from different artistic areas and give campers exposure to a variety of learning and skill building in those areas. Campers may discuss color theory and spatial awareness while creating found-object collages, they may practice painting skills and brush control in the same piece that they also learn best practices for using chalk pastels. They may learn how drawing techniques can assist with creating a rubber block prints and how color mixing may determine which colors they choose for inking their prints.
In whichever camp your child chooses to attend at Museo Art Academy, you can be sure they are learning and practicing a variety of real artistic skills and techniques – skills and techniques some of our instructors didn’t even learn in their art classes until college.
What if they’ve “done this before”?
Even if your child has learned and practiced some of these techniques before, our instructors challenge them to take their skills to the next level, expanding their abilities to create more challenging and rewarding works of art.
Creative problem solving is more than just for the art room; it’s a skill that’s gaining more press and discussion for its value in the work force and the tech industry, as reported by numerous studies by the U.S. Department of Education, Bloomberg, and World Economic Forum.
Adobe, the company that creates the Adobe Suite, says that according to their survey on creative problem solving to educators and policy makers, “Almost 90 percent of respondents believe students who excel at creative problem solving will have higher-earning job opportunities in the future, and 85 percent agreed that these same skills are in high demand by today’s employers for senior-level and higher-paying careers.”
Our camps teach creative problem solving by teaching students to value creativity and to harness its use in problem solving when approaching challenges.
3. How to Take Constructive Feedback
Ah, yes, everyone’s favorite skill to cultivate: taking constructive criticism! Okay, so it may not be our favorite skill to actually practice, but we can certainly agree that it’s an incredible important life skill to have, since in order to develop ourselves in anyway, we have to be able to take feedback and learn how to apply it to our situation.
Our job as instructors is to help campers understand how to apply the skills they’re learning correctly, and how to make adjustments to their work to make sure those skills are being applied in the right way. We keep our campers to instructor ratio small so that we can give individualized instruction when needed in a helpful and empowering way.
We also use our camps to teach students how to evaluate their own work. At the end of the week, if time permits, we have campers go through their work and choose their favorite and least favorite piece they made. They then get to share with the class why they chose each piece, and share where they believe they did well, and where they could have done better.
4. To Try New Things
Our camps seek to give campers new experiences in a safe and supportive environment – whether it’s learning how to draw an animal from a picture, or it’s carving a woodblock for print, or it’s manipulating wire to create a wire sculpture portrait, campers are being exposed to new materials and techniques.
The more exposure to learning new activities not only creates and strengthens neuron pathways in the brain, but also builds confidence and helps lessen the intimidation of trying new things in other areas of life. The more positive experiences children have with trying new things, the more open to trying something new they will be in the future.
Art camps are a great opportunity for children to push themselves and grow in many different ways over the summer months. Here at Museo Art Academy, we seek to cultivate a love and appreciation of art in each of the students and campers that come through our doors, through making art fun and approachable.
Museo Art Academy offers a wide range of art camps at our Issaquah studio for campers to choose from – drawing, painting, sculpture, mixed media, and pottery, with a new project every week. Learn more about our art camps here.
Sources not already directly linked in article:
Sharing our love of art education, one post at a time.