The last time this discussion came up my beer was getting warm and the foot traffic was getting cold during an art exhibition we were participating in. After the crowds of people slow down to a trickle conversation usually starts up with the participating artists. Sometimes weird discussions develop but generally it is about art. On one occasion the discussion of Functional Art came up and shined like a new copper penny. There are artists that whole heartily believe there is no such thing as Functional Art. That debate can get quite heated depending on how much spirits were consumed.
A good way to start this would be to define;
"What is functional art?"
Functional art is a link of fine art and useful or practical. It can include furniture, dishes and other everyday use products. Example would be a beautiful hand created clay vase full of life and detailed color. It can stand alone on the collector’s mantle (fine art). Or you could put a little water in it with some fresh cut flowers (functional art). Functional Art is not a new genre and has been around a long time.
The creative inspiration for the artist is to link fine art with the practical use. To make something unique but yet useful for the purchaser if they so desire. It can be a very daunting task keeping the fine art edge and not creating craft. Oh how many times I would sketch an idea out and hear with a bit of sarcasm added to the tone;
“Are we into making crafts?”
Those sketches generally end up in the fire and I get back on the fine art path again.
It is my belief that Functional Art will always be controversial amongst artists. Some be of the opinion that it has no merit while others have no doubt that Functional Art is real and can be part of a growing artist’s accomplishments. And if you can enrich someone’s home with a piece of it with creativity and practical function with making them happy does it really matter what we artists think.