I'm thinking about the concept of craftsmanship.
We live in a world that is largely dominated by instant gratification, and quick, easy solutions. In so many ways, I really appreciate these things, and we are lucky to live in a world of such riches and convenience. I also realize that there is a price to pay for this quick turn approach and it makes me realize that value of craftsmanship.
What is craftmanship? Typically, I think of it as something that is produced by hand. I would expect excellence and an attention to detail. An object of high quality, into which deep care was invested into its creation. When I think about craftsmanship in the context of the work that I do and the art that I teach, I realize that it's incredibly important.
There are two parts to what I teach and advocate. There is the art itself, which is handiwork. There is a tangible outcome and we're making things with our hands. Secondly, there is a mindset and approach that goes along with the act of creation. That latter part is actually the most important to me. When I consider where I would seek to apply deep skill and sustained practice over a long period of time so that I really become familiar with the materials and the process, I realize that that elements of craftsmanship would apply to both parts.
In my artistic practice (it's really just a life approach), I am seeking excellence in and deep knowledge of resilience, transformation, joy, happiness, and peace of mind. I'm practicing sovereignty over my own life, seeking the knowledge and the agency that I can have over my own decisions.
Understanding those concepts and then practicing them and creating artwork that explores and upholds those concepts is how I am operating as a craftsman in this area. It's a process in which I'm seeking deep knowledge and excellence and then applying it.
A craftsman has developed a relationship with the products and process, and is continually working to evolve those relationships. It's an ongoing process.
Learning and leaning in. Tweaking the smallest details. Craftsmanship is incredibly important in today's world, and it's incredibly important to me in the context of the art that I do. The skills that I'm nurturing, refining, and deepening over time are a deep engagement in my own life coupled with tangible ways to express my inner world to myself and to others as I go through my life.
What does excellence look like? For me, excellence means developing a sense of playfulness, experimentation, curiosity, passion, and engagement. If I am fine-tuning my craft, I would slowly and steadily be getting better at it or sinking deeper into it.
I would see an increase of those characteristics I just mentioned. I would notice that I can rest in joy and passion and playfulness more often, and that I know how to get into that state of being more easily.
I'd like to encourage you to think through your life, and your creative practice if you have one, to consider:
- Where is it that you would like to deepen your skills?
- Where can you add some consistency and repetition in the actions that you take so that over time you are creating a solid foundation and you are moving toward a state of excellence for your particular craft?
I'll see you next time. I'm heading to the studio table to practice my craft.
that camping trip
my fiftieth birthday
all those Saturday nights
actually, none of that
hurts more than knowing
I chose you and kept choosing you
for far too long
that the first time we sat next to each other
with bbq wings for company
I knew you were smooth glass
the tiniest bird beat its wings
inside my chest
my own clear voice said
not this one
I stepped forward and took your hand anyway
you were never anything but flat
I should have known
by the way you washed your car
the way you kissed
that you read headlines, not heartbeats
I, up too late journaling,
steeped in moonlight
dreaming of roses and laughter
wanted so much more than that
and lost myself in hope
Who am I?
I’m a systems engineer and creative coach living in ABQ, NM. I believe that we can intentionally design our lives to align with our deepest dreams and desires.