If you were to look through a number of online definitions of the word craftsmanship, the basic understanding of the meaning that’s intended to be conveyed is, “Someone who demonstrates a high level of skill in their trade or craft.” Seems obvious enough to even the average laymen. However, there was an additional or alternative descriptive term that jumped out at me in a few of them. It was the word “Artisan” or “Artistry” that gave me pause, and I hope you as well.
In my first blog, “Let Me Introduce You To Blue Collar Builders,” I mentioned growing up with a father who is gifted with strong abilities for both mechanical and spatial aptitude. Whatever he would conceive to repair, build or create, he could accomplished. I was fortunate enough to inherit many of these same abilities, but with such a chasm of difference between our practical experiences, I never dared to presume I was remotely close to his equal. He was and still is a perfectionist. He approaches any project with a belief based in the logic that the pursuit of quality is not simply a motivation to achieve accuracy, but rather the desire to attain precision in purpose, and this shaped my personal beliefs for years to come.
I count myself fortunate to have been trained to perform a variety of trades without compromise to quality or ethic, but it took me many years to fully comprehend the difference between a “Journeyman” and a “Craftsman.” I thought they were one and the same… “Someone who is highly skilled at their craft or trade.” So, I took this paradigm into countless job interview where I would be asked if I were a journeyman. Thinking of my father as the standard bearer of this qualification, I would constantly undersell my abilities and skill sets. These employers would naturally conclude that I was still an apprentice, and place me into the company roster accordingly. Unfortunately my pay level was reflected by this ignorance as well. It didn’t take long for these employers and supervisors to realize the lack of congruence between their understanding of the “limited” abilities I inadvertently implied having when compared to the true journeyman level skill I was able to display. My “Opportunity” for more responsibility within the company would quickly increase, but unfortunately at a much faster rate than my hourly wage. Still, the question that has yet to be answered is, if both Journeyman & Craftsman possess a high degree of skill in their respective trades, what’s the difference?
The difference has nothing to do with intelligence or even ability. In fact, I would venture to expect that there are many journeymen out there who because of their emotional indifference, though extremely talented, never achieve their full potential of becoming amazing craftsman. It’s really a matter of mind set then, anchored in the attention to finer details. Journeyman know their craft well, and they typically perform adequate work that will pass inspection and profit the company. In some cases, such as general commercial work, this is a fair trade for what the client is expecting in exchange for the monies rendered, but these same efforts are not likely to receive the same reaction of approval when called upon to do custom work. With that being said, higher quality usually comes at a higher price. Consumers should not expect to receive “Taj Mahal / Rolls Royce” products and services at “Ghetto / Hoopty” prices. It is for this reason I believe some definitions of the word Craftsmanship include the concept of artistry. Rare art will often sell for millions, or at least the admiration of millions.
Even so, “Art” is not necessary, anymore than the sustenance to nourish a body needs to have flavor, but it’s sure a lot more enjoyable, and that is the point. Art moves people emotionally, good or bad. The value of art is not a function, it’s the result of a feeling. It’s the inexplicable “X” factor that causes a person to identify with someone or something beyond what is obvious and tangible. The typical response to building something functional is to use it, but art has the power to inspire us with passion that is unique and anything but typical.
So, determine what level of service provider you will need for your next project. Maybe you just want a handyman to hang a picture? Either way, make the effort to educated yourself before picking a contractor. Theses blog articles, and tutorial videos posted on the Blue Collar Builders website are meant to help. Be sure and listen to the other parties use of language, whether you are the client or contractor. More often than not a little difference in effort will often yield a big difference in the final result.
Thanks for reading. I’m Thump’r with Blue Collar Builders
Remember – “If you’re going to make it… make it right!”