What is Craftsmanship?

By Gaynor Strachan Chun
By Gaynor Strachan Chun

In our inaugural blog, this seems like a particularly good question to ask—especially given all the current marketing hype around the words “crafted” and “craftsmanship.”

Let’s start with the concept of something being crafted. For most of us, I think, this term suggests that the maker is highly skilled, and has created this product with attention to detail, and a sense of beauty. Ideally, the product should also contain some mark of quality where the touch of the human hand has made the difference.

Create a World Built to Last.

Craftsmanship is a way of thinking and doing where humanity is in tune with nature, not working against it.

As satisfying as these criteria might feel, they only take us so far. In fact, using the word “crafted” to imply craftsmanship, as many companies now do, is something of a sham. Craftsmanship—in the fullest sense of the word—is a way of life. It is about fully engaging our heads, hands, and hearts in our labors. It is about adhering to a set of values and principles that produce objects that are not only functional and beautiful but also make for a sustainable lifestyle.

To this very point, I found an interesting blog on a Digital Agency’s web site the other day. The agency — Nebo — was encouraging everyone to think more like a craftsman, “Even if you don’t think of yourself as creative — say you’ve never made something with your hands in your life — it doesn’t matter. Craftsmanship is an attitude, and one we believe is important enough to cultivate.” And they followed up this statement by defining 8 characteristics that mark master craftsmen. Here’s the list:


  1. Motivated by mastery rather than attaining a status.
  2. Willing to make sacrifices in finances, free time and relationships.
  3. Believe in the end-value of what they are making.
  4. Balance a passion for history and tradition with a drive to innovate.
  5. Plan and think things through first.
  6. Immerse themselves and can maintain focus on their work.
  7. Put in the hours for their craft to become a habit of daily life.
  8. Know that you’ve never really “made it.”

Today, craftsmanship is as relevant, if not more so, than ever. It is a way of thinking and doing where humanity is in tune with nature, not working against it. It leads to a world that’s built to last. Which, I think we can all agree, is something we need to move toward if we are to solve the challenging issues we are facing today—in our environment, in our jobs, and in our human relations—both here at home and around the globe.

If you want to join us in thinking about craftsmanship, and the men and women who are using the principles of craftsmanship to solve challenges such as the need for clean water, sustainable agriculture, and healthy local economies, we hope you’ll check out our stories in Craftsmanship Quarterly.


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