When you employ a craftsman or an artist to create a product for you, the basic idea is that you pay for the production of the product, the product itself and whatever else goes into delivery and so on. However, if we were to philosophically to consider this, we’d be paying for the creator’s experience as well. After all, a piece by a master craftsman does seem to fetch a higher price due to its quality than the same piece with somewhat less elegance by the master’s student.
It could be argued that the quality and finesse of a product has some relevancy to the amount of experience the creator has under his belt. In a modern production environment this may not be the case, as automated machines are able to produce a very even quality. To put that aside, the amount of experience a craftsman needs to learn to master his craft doesn’t end. In a way, to call someone a master is sort of oxymoron, as there is always room to improve one’s skill, but we just tend to use the term to nominate someone who has skill beyond the standard qualifications, if you will.
The experience we’re talking about here isn’t just few times working hands-on with something, or just few years. Ultimately, to be considered a master of a craft classically requires a small lifetime. What many seem to forget about other fields is that they contain the same seed from we all learn from; failure. Failure and the will to overcome that failure by solving whatever problem caused that failure to come true is what makes us learn. As an anecdote, I’ve seen people having a swell time in the workshop and haven’t seen much troubles. However, at some point they are just faced with a wall that they can’t overcome easily because they have lacked the challenges failure brings with it. I have to say that most, if not all of my experience really has been accumulated through numerous hardships that have sometimes required me to scrap numerous work hours due to a simple mistake or an unseen problem that could not have been avoided without a necessary experience.
As such, experience costs a lot of money, but we rarely see this in the product price itself. Then again, perhaps it should even be visible in there to any extent. Experience however does have an effect on the price in few ways. Like I discussed earlier this month, accuracy raises the price due to the sheer amount of time it takes for a craftsman to ensure the required dimensions are to a point. Thank God for standard tolerances, I tell you. Those things are a life saver in, money saver and time saver. Anyway, with experience gaining those accuracies is, in principle, easier as you have that knowhow to back unto. This sort of experience doesn’t really appear on a conscious mind all that much, you just have both the muscle memory and the gist of doing something right. It’s like opening a bottle. You instinctively know that lefty loosy and righty tighty and you twist the right way without thinking it too much.
And yet we all just stop thinking and wondering which was the direction on an occasion or seven.
For a moment, consider how much time and effort you’ve spent on your hobby or field of work and how much easier things just are nowadays for you, and how much you still require to learn new things and experience to be just that much better.
You know this already by hear, but it never ends. Perhaps the best way to put it would be that we can master something well enough at some point in our lives, but due to the nature of world, the evolving technology, changing tools, new requirements and numerous other things that can change a thing within a month, we can never truly master something. Perhaps that sort of search for perfect mastery of something is in vain, but it is without any shroud of doubt very admirable, whatever it is.
So, to return to the point. The best place where you can see quality and worth of your money is in whatever restaurant you frequent. The more open view to the kitchen, the better. There you can see that sometimes the more expensive price can fetch a more skilled chef. Watching a master chef working in his kitchen is a wonder. Applies to really everyone at their own work, really. Have you ever seen a master secretary? That’s a sight to behold in itself, especially when it comes to time and event management.
However, experience and mastering the craft can make a person a bit blind as well. I mentioned that changes can keep one from being a master of something, but it could be argued that mastering a craft in a version of sorts that turns archaic down the line. Traditional and digital painting being just one example that pops to my head. Sticking to one style and way and being its master may exclude tools and methods that would make things so much easier at times. This sounds like I’m talking about martial arts or something.
A good example of this really is how traditional metal and such craftsmen are becoming a sort of rare species due to how the same products can be largely made faster, easier and more efficiently. For example, if you were to employ a craftsman to make a ladle, surely you would get a fine and well made ladle with no second piece like that existing in the world. That is, if you don’t order multiple pieces and ask him to do a limited mass production. However, ordering some Chinese factory to produce ladles for a fraction of the price and gain so much more in quantity with the same quality is reality we must face.
But experience. Don’t underestimate it, and if you want to ensure something as it should be, don’t be afraid to ask for it too