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What do we call ourselves? Artists? Craftsman? Makers?


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Buried in that report by CERF+ on careers of artists was this little section that even they pulled out and sent separately to their members. I guess by now you have figured out I am one or at least like what they do.


There has been this ongoing argument of "Art vs. Craft" that just never seems to be answered, here was and interesting view on the subject including just what do the people involved like to called.


What is your position on this?







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Good question, one I often wonder about, when I tell people I am a miniature artist I generally get blank looks, if I throw the word dollhouse in I can see they start thinking...oh...children's toys or worse...pink painted Barbie dollhouses. And even when I explain I can see they still have no idea. Just yesterday I went to buy wood and when I mentioned the word miniatures the sales lady's eyes went to a sixth scale pressed out of wood bench on her desk, I had my iPad with me and showed her some photos of my sewing table...her whole face changed to unbelief and wonder at the same time, and she called her colleague to come and look, they were amazed that people out there want items like this and are willing to pay good prices too!

In South Africa the word crafts generally is understood to be something like quilting, knitting, embroidery scrapbooking etc that you do over a weekend to fill your hours, it is not appreciated as art and people are not willing to pay good prices for such items. A good friend of mine made the point the other day that the charity drives from churches and other institutions where people are expected to donate their handwork and sell them cheaply to fill the coffers has instilled the idea that handwork is not of much value in the South African community and I can only agree with her, having experienced it myself. So I will never use the word craft in referring to my work, it is so misunderstood in our modern language.

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I just call myself an artist. It is a lot easier than trying to explain 'miniature artisan' in a casual conversation.

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This is currently a "hot topic" in our house...my daughter is finishing her 2nd year at art school. She has gravitated into fibers, however her major is currently "general fine arts".  So I get questions from her like: Is it bad to be a craftsperson?" She also get crits in her general fine arts classes of her fiber work that are much more critical than in her fibers and weaving classes. There they tend to focus on her technique, which is very accurate.


The things she tells me I find funny, these distinctions/arguments, etc...have not gone away through time.


A good friend of ours is a quilter, and she exhibits in several of the bigger craft shows:




We have had many entertaining discussions about these issues. She and some of her good friends in the shows call the shows "The crap shows."


I see "maker" makes the list of titles. Boy do I ever hate that term.  I guess I have been "making" one way or another my whole life so I bristle at the idea that people have just "discovered" making.


OK enough of this for now!



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This is an interesting thread indeed. I prefer artist and /or miniaturist oh and woodworker. I guess it depends on who I'm talking to. If it's about wood, I'm a woodworker. But since I make all kinds of art, I guess artist is the most appropriate.. If people don't get miniaturist, I hand them a tri-fold. Then they get it. I drive a 1971 VW Beetle, I painted Miracle Chicken Urns on the doors in my logo. Everywhere I go, people stop to talk about the car. It is about 50/50 -about the car or about what a Miracle Chicken urn is. Again I hand them a tri-fold. (My other (first) website is miniature carvings used to personalize pet urns). 



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  • 2 months later...

I can't help but get the shivers when someone calls him- or herself an artist. 

Sorry, folks, can't help it.

In my opinion the word miniaturist covers it, it does not sound pompeus but it is just that.

If your work is very good and other people say you're an artist, then that is a darn nice compliment.


I have seen miniatures made by people that call themselves artist that looked really awful and badly made and I've seen newcomers to the miniature world, eager to learn and making the most beautiful items that call themselves mini addicted (no I'm not into naming names) or housewife or whatever.

So, what's in a name?


and, by the way,the word craftsperson to me is not a word that puts anyone down, on the contrary I would say.

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I usually call myself a miniaturist, or scale miniaturist.  I often refer to myself as a designer when I'm talking about petitpoint.  I use terms like fine miniatures, scale historical replicas, museum quality and so on, depending on who I'm talking to and what I'm talking about.  The only time I use the word dollhouse is to say something like, "1:12 scale is the same size as a typical dollhouse, but the pieces I make are not toys."  In general, I consider myself an artist.  Crafting can have positive or negative connotations depending on the situation and context.  The word 'artist' doesn't have to mean you're good at it.  To me, artist has to do with being creative, not conceited. A child who paints a picture could be called an artist even though the picture isn't fine art.  There can be good artists and bad artists, although I would prefer to say that the "bad" artists just haven't learned enough about their art yet.  Good art vs bad art can also be a matter of opinion.  There is art in museums that I wouldn't be able to distinguish from a 2 year old's finger painting.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have some thoughts on terminology :)


I never liked the term "crafts" "craftsman" etc to me "crafts" are things amateurs, children  and "little old ladies" do in their spare time for fun, I'm not a craftsman,  or craftperson, I don't make "crafts," for my work I prefer to use the term "Professional sculptor" and I always refer to buyers of my work as "clients" not "customers or "buyers'


Professionals- that includes artists- have clients, and their services are engaged by clients. An artist making a custom commissioned  room box or the like for someone should call that person a client, "customer" sounds like someone who shops at Wal-mart or the five and dime store.

I never even liked the term "Vendor" for those who are selling through some venue or other, to me "vendor" sounds like a fly-by-night moble hotdog stand or souvenir stand  you see in the ballpark or something.




Good art vs bad art can also be a matter of opinion.


Art patrons should be able to file  a malpractice suit for bad art ;)



 The only time I use the word dollhouse is to say something like, "1:12 scale is the same size as a typical dollhouse, but the pieces I make are not toys." 


I really don't like the term "dollhouse" for miniatures, dollhouses are kid's toys as far as I'm concerned, as a man I find it somewhat offputting to have packages of items I've ordered have "DOLLHOUSE" all over the labels in one form or another. I have my room box at work and pretty  much everyone there knows I'm building one, I do get some occasional "when are you going to put some Barbies in there?" from one guy but then we are always knocking each other around in a humerous way and I'm always telling him "Go home, there's plants that need you, we don't!" or "bring in one of your Venus flytraps I feel like having a salad!"  (he is heavily into exotic and rare plants and flowers and has a building full across from his house) I also got a "are you building a DOLLHOUSE?" from the secretary.



I'm comfortable with myself and enjoyment of minituria and don't really care what people think about it, but I don't care for the association with girl's DOLLhouses and kid's toys the public has.

Interesting thing is, when I was a small boy I asked for and got a dollhouse, I don't remember it, but this would have been mid 60s and that was a time when boys played  pretty exclusively with cowboys and indians,  capguns, tanks and solders and girls played with dolls and dollhouses, sewing and baking things, there was very little cross-over back then.


I wonder if anyone has ever done a survey, I'm curious what percentage of people who work with miniatures are male and how many are female, I would guess a lot of it depends on the type of miniatures: HO railroading, scale cars/trucks etc  are scale models and likely a high percentage of those involved would be male. When you get into things like 1" scale rooms, furniture, houses, dioramas, vignetts etc I'm guessing the higher percentage would be female, but that would seem to vary depending on the quality, I could imagine men might go more for what I'll call museum quality type rooms and furniture than "dollhouses."

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I find I usually call myself a modelmaker because that's what my contract for film work usually says, but to be honest it's only a title and as long as people call me I don't care.

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  • 7 months later...

I am all of the above :D

The name I pull out of the hat depends on the audience I am talking to.

If I am talking to people who are into computer stuff I am a Maker

If I am talking to galleries or artist I am an artist

If I am talking to woodworkers or metal workers I am a craftsman

Sometimes I am a model maker.

Other occasions I am a designer or consultant

If I am talking to people who are into miniatures then I don't need to use a title, I just describe what I make.

If I don't want to explain what it is I do then I am "retired" which means I don't have to say anything else and they think I am fortunate in my career choice.


For the IRS I am a "model maker", it falls under the professional services category. Calling yourself an artist on the tax forms raises their eyebrows :rolleyes: .

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General Public:   "Scale Miniaturist".  I've been a "Collector" all of life.  But my most favorite function is that of a Student of the arts... 

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