I can promise a few things in this post: 1) this is completely a rant. 2) I don’t even know my stance on this topic at all. So I will most likely make no point whatsoever. And 3) I will absolutely contradict myself several times.
I was recently out with a group of creative people (both were moms, and one with a background in marketing), and we were discussing art, and how social media has taken away some of the power that artists have. We were chit chatting about the fact that artists go to school for their craft, and take ridiculously long studio classes, and spend hours after class in that studio refining their skills, while others who surf social media sites can do a DIY with no training whatsoever. So, I brought up the subject that I felt that the tutorials out there might make people less creative. To which one of the moms replied, “But maybe it makes them more creative.” I was fairly content with that argument. In that moment it seemed to make a lot of sense. “Hmmm. Maybe tutorials make kids and adults more creative because they can complete various projects in a short amount of time,” I thought to myself.
And then I merrily went off to work, not really bothering to think about this at all. And then a thought struck me. “But then if all they’re doing is following along, does that make them creative or just really good at listening to directions?” I feel like there is some detriment to only learning how to do things online or even a book. Before that, you learned from real interaction from a parent, or teacher, or experienced crafter, or whoever. Someone real and tangible with flesh and blood, and someone to whom you could ask your questions and get a reply. You could see the craft being made in all dimensions, not just one and only at that camera angle. Or you simply had to figure it out for yourself through trial and error.
That kind of interaction and experience makes for a more creative person in my mind. You know what doesn’t work. And you have the benefit of knowing why. So you can apply that knowledge to future projects. Just following some tutorial only gives you the knowledge of what does work. And then what happens when you need to apply that skill to another project or you need to deviate slightly. Would you know how to do that?
But then again, I sometimes go surfing the net because I lack inspiration, or I want to try something new, and then I’m totally guilty of following a tutorial! But does that make it okay because I’ve paid my dues painstakingly trying to figure out a craft for myself? But can I really give any less credit to the DIYer? Technically, if they’ve spent as many hours watching tutorials as I have going to school for art then aren’t they considered as experienced as I am?
I continued my day with thoughts reeling through my brain, not really coming up with any final answer at all. See? I promised my story had no point and several contradictions. I guess my main goal was to get you thinking, and see what you do indeed think. And I guess also, to maybe close the lid on the laptop the next time you try a craft, and see if you can figure it out first. It will surely give your mind and hands a workout, and you’ll feel such a sense of pride that not only did you succeed in making a cool craft, but at the fact that you figured out how to do it all by yourself.