Let’s great straight into this idea of ‘craft’. What is it, and why is it worth pursuing?
My own thought on craft is that it is more a honed skill, style or application, than a tangible object. Craft is your technique; your brain’s neural connections, sculpted over hours of practice. Your craft is the way in which you apply paint to a canvas, how you think about a new musical composition or how you structure your written sentences in a short story.
Theoretically, one’s craft can be applied to various mediums, such as writing and film directing, but often there isn’t enough time in the day to apply it to more than one focus, but it’s certainly possible.
It is through working on that which you love, that it can be matured over time.
The pinnacle of craft can never, however, (at least in my view) be fully reached. Being kept motivated through constant growth and improvement, is the very essence of what craft is about.
And yet, often one’s ability to work on a craft can get swallowed up by the other things that take up your life. Your day job, children, pets and trips can all get in the way of the focus that your craft truly deserves. You might even dump your craft when you think it’s not going anywhere, or that you feel you are not talented enough, or that you have momentarily lost enthusiasm.
The fact is, everyone possesses craft. It’s simply down to you to develop and nurture it over time.
Understanding where your craft can take you and how it can define you can be a very powerful motivator to keep going.
Here are 15 reasons to stay focused on your craft:
1. Your style can only continue to accentuate.
Even five extra minutes of working on an illustration in a day will have a small effect on your style. It’s impossible to regress. Either you are learning from mistakes or making changes that are refining how you express yourself creatively, or otherwise.
2. Your exposure will increase.
Obviously the amount of self promotion and marketing your work receives will have an effect on this, and it is assumed that you allow your craft be seen by others at least occasionally.
With regular commitment to your craft over time, and as your skill improves, more and more people will talk about you, share your work for you, and get you referrals and projects.
3. The more time you dedicate to developing your craft, the more you will learn about what you are capable of.
Time spent, even time just thinking about your craft, is time well spent. Spending focused time in this way will contribute greatly to knowing what you are capable of doing with your skill, as well as adding to the value you possess as a crafts-person.
4. You will develop more credibility as an artist/ skilled person.
Staying with a craft for a long time will, if anything, show you care for what you do. Caring in this way generates trust in those that follow and take an interest in you, which is very valuable.
5. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn from them and know what to avoid in future.
Making mistakes is one of the most important elements of developing craft. Craft is effectively the culmination of making many mistakes that have guided you along the way.
6. Your understanding of your craft will continually develop, making you increasingly more valuable as an expert in your field.
The more you know, the closer you will get to reaching expert status in your field, and being a valuable member of that industries community.
7. The more you learn, the more you can teach others.
8. Your self confidence will increase, as long as you are growing with time spent and mistakes made.
You need to be matching a positive attitude with the progress (or lack of it) you realise on working in the way you do.
9. The more honed your craft is, the more you will stand out in your field
Honing your technique, your skill and your style will inevitably feed into your uniqueness as an artist.
10. The further you go, the more you can create, because your understanding of your ability has grown
Because you understand more of what you are capable of, and your skills have improved, you can create more, with less of the resistance you faced in the early days of working on your craft.
11. Your craft can make transitions to other mediums, if you feel that’s where you need to go, much smoother
We hear of many creative minds applying themselves in different mediums, even different industries, but often the transition is easier, because craft has already been developed to some degree.
12. The more of a career you can make out of it.
A more fine-tuned craft can mean the significance of one’s career surrounding it becomes more relevant; more sought-after.
13. The more value you have as a creator, owing to your experience, the more you can charge.
With time spent on your craft, comes the potential to increase the income you make from it.
14. Your understanding of how other things and processes work, will improve.
Through learning and developing a craft, one gains a fuller understanding of something very specific. This knowledge can be applied with confidence to understanding other things.
For example, a photographer who nurtures a craft in professional photography can better harness an awareness of how best to capture images that have meaning.
This is not to mention the fact that related practices like an understanding how to use particular software or equipment, or even how business and marketing works, will improve as well.
15. The more of a legacy you will leave behind.
This can be a great motivator to continue, if anything. Forging your own craft can have a very significant effect on what you will be remembered for.
Don’t forget: The journey is the reward.
Now, go work on your craft, and make no excuse!
What are your thoughts? Please do leave a comment.