All three and moving towards artisan more and more.
For me, it depends on what is going on at the moment. Here is a truth mentioned years ago on this forum - Don't offer your mediocrity and pen mistakes to people around you - if you wish to sell in the future. People will remember you by your least accomplishments, - they will want your best but want to pay by your least.
Boy, does that label me! I have deliberately pulled back from making a multiplicity of things the past 5 to 6 years to distance myself from the cheaper image of the past.
If a local computer shop can charge $50 -$100 an hour to fix a computer by just wiping the drive and re-installing the OS and major apps and files, then my time is worth more as an Artist - but my quality and esthetics must exceed the value with the name put on it. However, people have memories of my apprenticeship days and my giveaways.
Artist. It is about each new piece being a challenge. Using the pen as a canvas for creative juices. This is why I have stopped using kits. So that the whole pen is my creation. That doesn't mean that makers of blanks aren't artists too, but using someone else's blank on a kit isn't art, it is craft.
A little bit of all three. I don't have a very creative mind starting a project but can get creative over time. That would be an Artisan in me. Give me a building project and I promise you I can get it done quickly and just how you want it and built properly. That would be the Craftsman in me. You want a picture frame, table, book shelf or any other standard house hold item I can do it. That would be the woodworker in me.
Crafstman. I feel a woodworker is well rounded in every aspect, from turning to flatwork to carving. That’s not me. Artist? Hardly, I solely use kits but have modified some slimlines. I think the guys that make kitless pens are artists and it shows in their work. That’s beyond my level. I do, however, do the best I can in all my turnings, deliberately taking on harder projects to increase my skill level. I simply won’t sell a pen or anything else unless I’d be happy buying it. I’m ruthless when it comes to judging my own work, always finding fault and looking how to improve it. I feel that’s the attitude of a craftsman.
This is one that I have discussed with colleagues and clients alike.
I am a woodworker. I have worked with wood all my life, I have built pieces of furniture, as well as my entire workshop. My father was a carpenter as was my grandfather. This is what I do for a hobby, and I am far from a master.
With my pens. Many of my clients call me an artist, but I deny it and claim myself an artisan. I am highly skilled in what I do, and I am able to take many different materials and figure out how to put them together to create a beautiful, functional pen.
While others are capable of taking those same materials and assembling them, not only into a functional pen, but something that evokes a theme or an idea. Some of the original steampunk pens, we saw around here, are examples. Parts were added that were not needed for functionality, but that were used to create an image in the viewers mind. When you looked at them, you immediately think of the creations by the earlier industrial era inventors.
Segmenting is another area where some “artists” go beyond putting a couple of pieces of wood together to make a simple pattern and create a piece that evokes feelings beyond the materials. Similar to an artist putting paint/ink to paper. The Gisi collection is one I look to in the early days of this in pen making. My herringbone pen is me starting down this road, but I have a long way to go before I call my self an artist.
Another aspect is when guys “hand” carve, etch or paint designs into their work to create and image or a theme. Here I look to Tim Cullen and his recent “Shawshank” pen, that was not only made with wood related to the event, but the clip was hand engraved with images he created to represent the event, (a prisoner crawling through a tunnel). The perfect fit and finish of the pen itself is the work of a master Artisan, but the addition of the clip takes it way into the area of the artist.
Just my two cents.
This group is filled with many talented people and I love coming back here every morning.
For me it truly comes down to how you define the words themselves. Far to often a words like these are abused by marketing and alike. So first the proper meaning so be attached to the word.
Woodworker just like Metalworker and so on just simply is the someone who works with that material. But it is not a statement of quality or ability.
Craftsman this is a person that follows a plan to make an item primary a plan generated from someone else that is very competent in there field. This only comes with time doing said trade. Furthermore there is also a Master Craftsman this is and should one be reserved to those who are true masters of there craft that is judged by time and ability. This for me is my personal pet peeve as I have spent my lifetime honing my skills in my trade to be a Master Craftsman [not pen turning].
Artist this for me is a tough one as artist is not a claim to ability or skill it is subjective as the quality of the art is in the eye of the beholder and creator. So if you feel it is art then go for it who am I to tell you it isn't.
Then there is Artisan this is more of a hodgepodge of terms where you must be a craftsman at some level while still be able to put an artistic touch to what you are making.
With all of that said I would have to say I would rate myself as an Artisan apprentice as I don't feel as though I have enough experience to classify myself as a full Artisan just yet but, I will get there.