It's clever but is it art?

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Blog entry by BritBoxmaker posted 08-03-2013 02:00 PM 2968 reads 0 times favorited 29 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The time will come when the tail wags the dog
And the horse will be drawn by the cart
But the devil whoops, as he whooped of old
‘It’s clever but is it art?’

-Rudyard Kipling

Some call me an artist. I call myself a box maker. I’ve made some clever boxes. I’ve made some crap ones. I may associate feelings, images and experiences with my work and sometimes these things inspire it but I still don’t consider what I do to be art.

I feel I’ve progressed. I look at some of the early things I made with the same kind of regard I would think a parent shows to their children’s work. We all start somewhere. In letting emotion into what I do it has grown in some way. Sometimes though it has been overly self-indulgent, this (anag.) happens. I think exploring what you see and think about and letting these inform your work is mostly a positive thing though. This still doesn’t make me an artist in my own eyes.

Whatever happens though you have to enjoy making what you make or what’s the point. I enjoy making boxes. I hope (though it is by no means essential or even necessary) that others enjoy seeing them too. People and ideas I’ve seen here have also contributed to my growth in box making. What goes around comes around and I hope others might be inspired by my efforts.

Be seeing you

-- Martyn -- Boxologist, Pattern Juggler and Candyman of the visually challenging.

29 comments so far

View michelletwo's profile


2795 posts in 4235 days

#1 posted 08-03-2013 02:11 PM

Art? Who is defining art? who cares if it is art? Does it delight the viewer? Do you delight in making it and sharing it? In my definition it is art. But what is so wonderful about your & your boxes, is you have the ART of sharing. the art of explanation. the art of giving. So for me, Martyn, you are an artist.

View littlecope's profile


3131 posts in 4722 days

#2 posted 08-03-2013 02:19 PM

Sounds like you’re feeling rather thoughtful and introspective today my Friend!
Is it Art?
Happily, that is not a distinction required from me…
But when the builder adds a measure of his (or her) heart and emotion to their work,
it most certainly rises above “Ordinary” and becomes… Extra-ordinary…

-- Mike in Concord, NH---Unpleasant tasks are simply worthy challenges to improve skills.

View kevinw's profile


199 posts in 4959 days

#3 posted 08-03-2013 02:34 PM

I am an artist by training and experience and began seriously making artistic boxes about 5 years ago. I do consider it art and want it to be seen as such. Your work is great. I definitely consider it art.

-- Kevin, Blue Springs, MO

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 3512 days

#4 posted 08-03-2013 02:40 PM

One thing I’ve learned in this life is that we never (or seldom) see our selves as others see us. Also, I’m not sure an individual has the luxury of defining himself, especially in the way society does. Remember also there is a difference between prestige and esteem, with my point being you enjoy both the prestige of all who are privileged to view your work as well as the esteem of your fellow woodworkers who can see and truly appreciate your creations. IMHO you are an artist, and I’d be surprised to find many if any LJs who disagree.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View cathyb's profile


860 posts in 4464 days

#5 posted 08-03-2013 05:46 PM

Martyn, over the years I’ve been involved in many events with people who consider themselves to be “artist”. It has often been difficult for me to tolerate their self-important attitudes and inflated sense of self-worth. To me they were frauds who had little talent, little vision and created work that my son would have topped as a preschooler. I felt that disgust because in my heart I know that an artist is born an artist. Although some might disagree there is a distinct difference between a craftsperson and an artist. Without expanding on that premise, I will cut to the chase and say that your peers look at your pieces with awe. That is the case because Martyn you are an artist. You could take the easy road and crank out functional boxes that are attractive, but you can’t because you are not wired that way.
We are lucky to see your work and thoroughly enjoy your creative efforts. Thanks for making us part of the journey

-- cathyb, Hawaii

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 3908 days

#6 posted 08-03-2013 06:19 PM

What is Art?

Is a self expression or application of someones creative skills or imagination by any means in any way, basically in a visual form.

That’s all !!!

So, either you consider yourself an artist or not, the art is still there.


-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View amagineer's profile


1415 posts in 3817 days

#7 posted 08-03-2013 07:07 PM

There is an artist in all of us, for it comes from the heart, and you share your designs with your fellow woodworkers and we enjoy your boxes, because they come from your heart. To us, your are a very talented artist.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 3695 days

#8 posted 08-03-2013 07:14 PM

Who cares? You are absolutely talented. I will tell you what is art, it is a piece that stops people on their tracks and makes them say “WOW”....your boxes do that.

Don’t second guess yourself and specially do not fall into the “artist” trap, you are doing what you love and are obviously successful at it. If people think you are an artist, that is icing on the cake, if not, who cares? You still are doing what you like… :-)

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View degoose's profile


7284 posts in 4574 days

#9 posted 08-03-2013 08:32 PM

I don’t know what art is, I can tell when I see it… a little paraphrasing… but I see your boxes and think… ART…

-- Be safe.

View ellen35's profile


2750 posts in 4652 days

#10 posted 08-03-2013 09:03 PM

Your boxes are art and wonder. Your creativity is unparalleled. You also seem to enjoy what you do… that is all that counts in this life.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View moshel's profile


865 posts in 4903 days

#11 posted 08-03-2013 09:16 PM

”...Whose echoes live in memory yet, Though envious years would say “forget”…” – Lewis Carroll

(avoiding the obvious quote from Shakespeare)

The only test is time. if it lasts its art, even if its a utilitarian book or Ikea design, IMHO.
You are already in a Magazine, which means you are half immortal, so I guess you are on the right path….

-- The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep...

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3910 days

#12 posted 08-04-2013 12:56 AM

As defined by Webster’s, it appears that what we do IS art.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4795 days

#13 posted 08-04-2013 05:38 AM

I don’t if it’s art or not, but keep doing it because you like it.
Your not hurting anybody, and you produce some mighty nice looking pieces.
And thank yo for sharing your talent.

View Bluepine38's profile


3393 posts in 4305 days

#14 posted 08-04-2013 05:42 AM

Looks like a lot of people who know what they are doing and make beautiful items regard your boxes as art,
I agree with them, and if you are happy making these boxes, then everyone is happy and better for having
you share your art with them. Hope you keep enjoying your boxes for a long time.

-- As ever, Gus-the 82 yr young apprentice carpenter

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 4076 days

#15 posted 08-04-2013 09:39 AM

Martyn, you may call it what you like
I like what you make :)

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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