Human hands are capable of wondrous feats. Over the millennia we have used them to create tools that have taken us from isolated tribes to the masters of our world. Many have said that it wasn’t until we had surpluses of food or wealth that we began to create artistically. That’s simply not true. Craftsmen have been creating beautiful art for as long as we’ve been crafting tools or weapons. It is in our nature to seek out and recreate things both beautiful and meaningful.
It is an art that is now being lost. The talent of turning thought into reality is the arena of the craftsman. While others might dream up astounding innovations, they very rarely are responsible for their daily fabrication. There is a fundamental distance between the mind that imagines and the hands that create in most sectors of our society. It is even beginning to invade traditionally hand-crafted trades like the creation of jewelry.
So many times in our world inspiration never makes the complete circuit from dream to reality. There are a few bastions left to find truly moving items. Not all of those spaces are artistic, but the vast majority are. Most creations are now driven by demographic information and market research. Will everyone love this product? If not, should we even make it? the answer: Yes.
The process of creation should never be dictated by the audience. The point of creation is not to make something that will be acceptable to the masses. If you do that then everything begins to look exactly the same. The point is to create something magnificent. Once it’s been created, then it’s time to find the people who will be truly effected by its beauty. You don’t build the audience first, you find the audience last.
True craftsmen understand that. They generate amazing products first and then allow those who are excited by their work to spread it into the world. Many will never become famous, but their communities are made happier and more beautiful through the passion and inspiration of the craftsmen that live there.
And, this is where we begin to lose the charm of so many small towns. It used to be that a town’s look was dictated by the people who worked in that community. As each new craftsman learned their trade and started moving in to the professional sphere the town would start to change. The blacksmiths and metal workers would design the street lights, the balconies, and the siding all over the area. A few decades later a newcomer would begin crafting something exquisitely different. You would watch as the city shifted towards this new look. And, in that way you’d witness the city growing and changing as the artisans changed. This was true of all the other creators as well. The type of signs, the placement of parks and trees, the paint on the houses would change course over the generations.
The beauty of this system is that it not only allow, but encourages each new generation to a new facet of the world in which they live. We explore this new facet and find all the ways that it differs from the facets we explored before. This is the exploration that we so desperately need in our search for fundamental and ephemeral truth. But, we also explore the similarities of this new experience to that of the previous generations. This is the wisdom we use to build the our societal and mental foundations. You must have both to reach the heights that we all dream we can reach, both individually and as a species.
It is, and always has been, the craftsmen who have helped us achieve this balance. It’s a precarious balance that they manage to keep every day of their lives. If we lose our balance, there’s no telling how far we’ll fall. So, find a way to support the wonders of your community. They will always be there to support you back.