Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Idea versus craft | The Small Desk

At the end of the day it's all about taste

Recently there has been some controversy about a certain online star’s novel due to it being ‘ghost written’. As there has been so much discussion around this topic I wanted to talk about this further in terms of the distinction between ideas and craft. It comes down to one question: what do you think is more important, the idea or the craft? Would you prefer to see a well-written book about a dull topic or a poorly written book about a fascinating topic? I think most people would argue, neither. Therefore when you can put idea and craft together you really have the perfect combination. Some people are excellent at both craft and idea, and for some the craft is the only thing that matters. However some people are better at ideas and some people are better at craft, so sometimes it can produce a higher quality product if people work together.

I want to highlight a great example of where idea meets craft in a really successful way. Everywhere the press write ‘tapestries created by Grayson Perry’, yet he does not physically make the tapestries, they are sketched out and then made elsewhere by someone else. I cannot even find out by a Google search who actually makes them. However in Grayson Perry’s case no-one cares if he made the tapestry, stitched it piece by piece, but what we really care about is how he is making us think, think differently, openly and more deeply.

Let us take Damien Hirst. The spot paintings: how deep can they really make you think? What is the ‘idea’ behind these? I fear, not much. So in this case, is this a case of someone being better at the craft rather than the idea? Sadly not, as most of Hirst’s spot paintings are made by ‘assistants’, paid a low wage. This is a case where idea and craft are not complimenting each other.

Therefore I am asking you to think about whether it really matters who crafted what, as long as the idea is making you think, that the craft is of a high standard and that all involved are credited?

And if you are still thinking about ghost writing, you might be interested to read about the ‘confessions of a ghost writer’.

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