Are You a Tradesman, Craftsman, or Artisan?

Rapid skill acquisition is big news these days. With recent books from Josh Kaufman and Tim Ferriss, a lot of people are jumping on the bandwagon. At least they’re jumping on the bandwagon to read about it. You know how things are though. Many will read, but few will do. As Seth Godin says, they’re just not shipping.

I’m shipping. I’m reading Josh and Tim’s books and applying my own cognitive research to the process.

I love this visual from The 4 Hour Chef. Josh talks about setting goals for your rapid skill process, and in this chart Tim applies labels to them.


So, where do you want to be?

Do you want to be a Tradesman? In other words, you get by.

Do you want to be a Craftsman? In other words, you do pretty good.

Do you want to be an Artisan? In other words, you are awesome!

In case you were wondering, my rapid skill acquisition goal is sumo wrestling. I’ll be happy to get to the Craftsman level where I’m pretty good and don’t get my butt kicked every time I hit the mat.

Great news- I just checked Amazon Kindle ratings and my book on rapid skill acquisition has made it into the top 100 lists for Cognitive Psychology and Experimental Education Theory. It sounds very Mad Scientist like, which is pretty cool.

This message was written by Dr. David Powers. You can always find me at Thanks for reading!



9 thoughts on “Are You a Tradesman, Craftsman, or Artisan?

  1. Fell in love with woodworking early on…for the artisanship, beauty and simplicity…the reward of creating something with my hands. Started my own business for the same reason (An Epic, abysmal failure by most any standard you apply to it). That aesthetic aspect of woodworking is long gone for me…along with it any passion I had for the craft. The industry has changed so much, since I began over 30 years ago, that I spend my Sunday nights trying to fool myself into not panicking about the upcoming week. Usually, I’m unsuccessful and either spend the night staring at the ceiling or the following day in a benadryl-induced stupor. I read these words and think, “When did I become so negative?”. That’s not me. I’ve changed. I still have the heart of an artist and look for outlets to express that. One day, I’ll be free enough to express that in myriad ways…it just probably won’t be woodworking. My finger is poised over the delete button…eh, what the heck..I’m posting.

  2. Thanks for the comment David. Sometimes the hardest part of the journey isn’t actually becoming the artisan, but finding an area where we can be one. Maybe your artisanship lies somewhere in the intersection of woodworking and hiking?

    • Maybe. At this point, my passions lie in other places than wood working..but something with wilderness, writing, music…things that historically don’t pay very well. But in 5 years…mortgage free! Anything could happen~*

  3. I could draw a nice Venn diagram from some of what you’ve just said…music, wilderness, writing, woodworking. All of that to me shows an interest in mountain folklore. From there you could create a list of vocation ideas. You’ve certainly got the look for it too!

    • Hee hee. Thanks. The combined beards of John Muir, Ben Browning and yourself inspired me! I plan to recreate a couple of classic pics of Mr. Muir then trim it back to something my wife won’t have to work so hard at tolerating. As far as the mountain folklore thing…I’m, as of yet, ill equipped for such but 5 years can change a lot, huh?

  4. That’s it! A John Muir impersonator. There’s a retired history prof near me that makes a full time living as a Mark Twain impersonator. He gets paid really well doing talks at colleges and museums in full character. Just think, a job like this would pay for travel to awesome places. Put you outside making money. Now, I’ve got me wondering who I could impersonate. Maybe a famous Viking?

  5. I liked the article and will take a look at the book. It sounds really interesting!

    I suppose I’m a jill of all trades, mistress of none…spinning, weaving, all needlework forms, history, cooking, writing, wood carving (Hey, David Jongley, have you considered artisan woodcarving with a strong mountain folkwork bent?), natural remedies, etc. So, coffeedude, what’s my venn diagram speaking to you???

  6. I’d have to know a little more about you first, but you sound pretty interesting from the get go…a jill of all trades…I like that.

  7. I really loved this article…it is well written! I actually just happened to come upon a website that connects international artisans online, I feel your readers will benefit from the opportunities available on the website.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s