There are craftsmen whose role is to create pieces that are both artistic and functional. What they do is called functional art. They work with a variety of materials, including concrete, metal, and wood, with the understanding that their work is open to interpretation. In that sense, functional artwork is no different than any other form of art.
The idea of interpretation is one of the first concepts students learn in art class. Students spend time learning artistic techniques. They learn about artistic movements and the greatest artists of the past. But they also learn that, at the end of the day, there really are no rules. One person’s interpretation of a given piece is different from another’s. That’s okay.
Tyler Thomas Blaine is a Salt Lake City functional artist who markets himself as the Modern Craftsman. He says the idea of interpretation is easily illustrated in woodworking. He has the privilege of creating beautiful pieces exclusively from wood. He also combines wood with both concrete and metal.
What It Says to You
Imagine you have decided to commission Blaine to build a new table for your conference room. Fantastic. He gets to use his woodworking skills to create art. His design ideas would be based on your description of what you are looking for. However, it is possible that his design might mean one thing to him and something else to you.
You could both see a stunningly beautiful table just waiting to be brought to life. You could agree that his design represents the best table to meet your needs. However, your interpretations of the finished table’s artistry might ultimately be different. Blaine might see something modern and futuristic with just a hint of the past. You might look at the same piece and see more of the past than the future.
That’s okay as long as you’re happy with the table. As long as it meets your functional needs and represents artwork you can appreciate, everything is good.
Wood Pieces of Old
Most of what Blaine produces is considered modern. But believe it or not, the wood pieces of old offer plenty of inspiration. Some of the woodworking craftsmen from 200 and 300 years ago created truly inspiring pieces that demonstrate just how artistic and functional wood pieces can be.
Antique dealers probably know this better than anyone else outside of the art world. They can look at a piece of antique furniture and recognize the artistry and skill that went into making it. They understand that woodworking is truly an art form requiring skills and talents not easy to quantify in a college art class.
Interestingly enough, antique dealers often have different interpretations of the same piece. They may understand certain facts – like who designed a piece, who built it, and from what era it comes, but it is not uncommon for them to offer different artistic interpretations. Where one dealer might see a bold use of a shape and form, another might be more captivated by color and shading.
Functional Art for You
When all is said and done, craftsman like Blaine produce functional art. Their works are open to interpretation from an artistic standpoint. They are okay with that. The ultimate goal is to produce something that pleases you, whether that be in wood or one of the other materials they work with.
Blaine produces functional artwork for both residential and commercial settings. If you are interested in learning more about what craftsmen like him do, just run a quick search on ‘functional art’. There is plenty of information on the web.