Being an artist seems to require a magnification of ego, but being a craftsperson involves its diminution.
Art and craft might be in their origins indistinguishable – the Greek word techne means art, and craft, and technique – but artists and craftspeople, at least in the past 100 years or so, have developed very different ways of behaving. The cartoon series Young British Artists in the satirical magazine Private Eye, featuring a group of foul-mouthed, self-obsessed and self-promoting yahoos, could not by any stretch of the imagination be called Young British Craftspeople.
For those who want to promote craft, I was thinking as I attended two craft-oriented events in recent weeks, this presents both an opportunity and a problem. Craftspeople are just too modest and self-effacing and even nice to be obvious subjects for the contemporary media circus, with its taste for extravagant and self-destructive lifestyles. Craftspeople are somehow less likely to produce scores of illegitimate children, in the manner of Lucian Freud, or to die in unexplained circumstances at 27, in the manner of Amy Winehouse, than artists. You might think that was a salutary thing but try telling that to a tabloid newspaper editor.