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Art is a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts – artworks, expressing the author's imaginative or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. In their most general form these activities include the production of works of art, the criticism of art, the study of the history of art, and the aesthetic dissemination of art.

The oldest form of art are visual arts, which include creation of images or objects in fields including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and other visual media. Architecture is often included as one of the visual arts; however, like the decorative arts, it involves the creation of objects where the practical considerations of use are essential—in a way that they usually are not in a painting, for example. Music, theatre, film, dance, and other performing arts, as well as literature and other media such as interactive media, are included in a broader definition of art or the arts. Until the 17th century, art referred to any skill or mastery and was not differentiated from crafts or sciences. In modern usage after the 17th century, where aesthetic considerations are paramount, the fine arts are separated and distinguished from acquired skills in general, such as the decorative or applied arts.

Art may be characterized in terms of mimesis (its representation of reality), expression, communication of emotion, or other qualities. During the Romantic period, art came to be seen as "a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science". Though the definition of what constitutes art is disputed and has changed over time, general descriptions mention an idea of imaginative or technical skill stemming from human agency and creation.

The nature of art, and related concepts such as creativity and interpretation, are explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics.

metal art

A craft is a pastime or a profession that requires particular skills and knowledge of skilled work. In a historical sense, particularly as pertinent to the Middle Ages and earlier, the term is usually applied to people occupied in small-scale production of goods, or their maintenance, for example by tinkers. The traditional terms craftsman and craftswoman are nowadays often replaced by artisan and rarely by craftsperson (craftspeople).

Historically, craftsmen tended to concentrate in urban centers and formed guilds. The skill required by their professions is and the need to be permanently involved in the exchange of goods also demanded a generally higher level of education, and craftsmen were usually in a more privileged position than the peasantry in societal hierarchy. The households of craftsmen were not as self-sufficient as those of people engaged in agricultural work and therefore had to rely on the exchange of goods.

Once an apprentice of a craft had finished his apprenticeship, he would become a journeyman searching for a place to set up his own shop and make a living. After he set up his own shop, he could then call himself a master of his craft.

This system of a stepwise approach to mastery of a craft, which includes the obtainment of a certain amount of education and the learning of skills, has survived in some countries of the world until today. But crafts have undergone deep structural changes during and since the era of the Industrial Revolution. The mass production of goods by large-scale industry has limited crafts to market segments in which industry's modes of functioning or its mass-produced goods would not or cannot satisfy the preferences of potential buyers. Moreover, as an outcome of these changes, craftspeople today increasingly make use of semi-finished components or materials and adapt these to their customers' requirements or demands and, if necessary, to the environments of their customers. Thus, they participate in a certain division of labour between industry and craft.

Handicraft is the "traditional" main sector of the crafts, it is a type of work where useful and decorative devices are made completely by hand or by using only simple tools. Usually the term is applied to traditional means of making goods. The individual artisanship of the items is a paramount criterion, such items often have cultural and/or religious significance. Items made by mass production or machines are not handicraft goods. Handicraft goods are made with craft production processes.

 

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