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A Chat with ChatGPT: Art vs Craft

As you may know, an AI (Artificial Intelligence) program is a software application or system that is designed to simulate human intelligence.

AI programs are created using algorithms and data-driven models that enable them to process and analyse information, make predictions, and generate responses in a way that mimics human cognitive abilities.

I’m typically an early adopter of new digital systems, meaning I’m among the first to explore and work out how to use emerging technologies before the systems become widely adopted.

The Technology Adoption Curve, AKA ‘diffusion of innovations theory’, Everett Rogers 1962.

As an AI user, I engage with ChatGPT often, on a range of topics. The program’s ability to quickly draw on extensive online material to answer a series of prompts (questions), is incredibly useful.

In this blog post, I’ll share my conversation with ChatGPT on the age-old topic of the definition of art vs crafts.

Thea: Why are some creations called crafting and others called art? What really is the difference?

ChatGPT: The distinction between crafting and art can sometimes be subjective and context-dependent, but there are some general differences that can help clarify the distinction.

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

Photo by Rachael Gorjestani on Unsplash

Functional and utilitarian: The technical proficiency of crafting

Crafting typically refers to the process of creating functional or utilitarian objects through skilled manual work or traditional techniques. Crafts often involve a high degree of technical proficiency and are often associated with specific materials or disciplines. Examples of crafts include woodworking, pottery, jewellery making, textiles, and furniture making. The primary focus of crafting is often on creating objects that serve a practical purpose or fulfil a specific function.

The creative expressions of art

Art, on the other hand, is more broadly defined and encompasses a wide range of creative expressions. It often emphasises aesthetics, self-expression, and conceptual or symbolic meaning. Art can take various forms, such as painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, installation, performance, and digital media. Unlike crafts, the primary goal of art is not necessarily to create functional objects but to evoke emotions, provoke thoughts, or communicate ideas.


While the line between crafting and art can sometimes be blurry, one key distinction is the emphasis on functionality. Crafts tend to prioritise the utilitarian aspect of the objects being created, whereas art often focuses on the expressive or conceptual aspects. However, it’s worth noting that there can be overlap and hybridisation between the two categories. Some artists incorporate craft techniques into their artwork, blurring the boundaries between the two.

Ultimately, whether something is considered crafting or art can depend on factors such as cultural norms, historical context, personal interpretation, and the intent of the creator.

Thea: Can you give me some examples?

ChatGPT: Certainly! Here are a few examples to illustrate the difference between crafting and art:

Crafting examples

A woodworker creates a beautifully handcrafted dining table using traditional joinery techniques. The focus is on creating a functional and aesthetically pleasing piece of furniture that serves a specific purpose.

Photo by subvertivo _lab on Unsplash

Photo by subvertivo _lab on Unsplash

Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash

A ceramic artist creates a set of intricately designed and glazed bowls. While the bowls are visually appealing, they are primarily intended to be used for practical purposes such as serving food or holding objects.

Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash

A jewellery maker meticulously handcrafts a necklace using high-quality materials and metals. The focus is on creating a wearable accessory that is visually appealing and serves as an adornment.

Thea’s work table in action, In the foreground, reversible Peach Noir earrings, Bubble Texture drops in the background.

Art examples

An abstract painter creates a large canvas filled with vibrant colours and expressive brushstrokes. The intention is to evoke emotions, spark imagination, or convey abstract concepts, rather than creating a functional object.

Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

A sculptor creates a large-scale sculpture made of various materials, such as metal, wood, and found objects. The sculpture may not serve a practical function but is meant to provoke thoughts, challenge perceptions, or convey a specific message.

Photo by Frankie Cordoba on Unsplash

A performance artist creates a thought-provoking and immersive theatrical production that combines dance, music, and visual elements. The aim is to engage the audience emotionally and intellectually, pushing the boundaries of traditional performance.

Photo by Evgeniya Litovchenko on Unsplash

In these examples, the crafting examples are more focused on creating functional or utilitarian objects, while the art examples prioritise aesthetic, expressive, or conceptual aspects. However, it’s important to note that these categories are not mutually exclusive, and there can be overlap and hybridisation between crafting and art practices.

Thea: So what if someone is not good at explaining their intent, do they then lose the chance to be classified as an artist, even if their end result is the same as someone who is more eloquent?

ChatGPT: No, the ability to articulate or explain one’s intent does not determine whether someone can be classified as an artist. While the ability to communicate about one’s work can enhance its understanding and appreciation, it is not a prerequisite for being considered an artist.

Artistic classification is typically based on the creative output itself, the ideas it conveys, the skill and technique employed, and its impact on the viewer or audience. The subjective interpretation and experience of the artwork by others also play a significant role in determining its artistic value.

Artists vary in their ability to articulate their intent for various reasons. Some artists may struggle to put their creative process or concepts into words, while others may intentionally leave their work open to interpretation, allowing viewers to derive their own meanings. In such cases, the artwork itself becomes the primary medium of communication.

It’s important to remember that art can be deeply personal and subjective, and each individual may have their own unique perspective and understanding of it. Even if an artist has difficulty explaining their intent, their work can still be appreciated and evaluated based on its aesthetic qualities, conceptual depth, emotional impact, or other artistic merits.

Ultimately, the classification of someone as an artist is not solely dependent on their ability to articulate their intent but rather on the creative expression and impact of their work on the artistic sphere.

My thoughts on ChatGPT

ChatGPT and AI tools, in general, can provide both clarity and confusion in their explanations. They have the ability to guide you towards valuable historical context and references, but they can also generate quotes from non-existent books and authors.

These tools are especially helpful when you’re staring at a blank page, as they can alleviate the initial “where do I start” panic. You can reorganise a piece of AI-generated content, overwrite most of it, and ultimately craft something entirely your own. In essence, AI serves as a useful, yet occasionally perplexing, resource, akin to Google search’s mixture of usefulness, biases, and limitations.

While ChatGPT is certainly a more advanced tool compared to simple Google searches, I’ve experienced the AI giving less useful answers the longer it has been available as an open resource, I can’t tell if that’s a design decision on the part of its creators or a consequence of the high number of users visiting the site daily.

Further reading

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