Tag Archives: satisfaction

The Elusive Nature of Quality

Demilune table

"Millenium" demilune table

I make things. Although I do make sculptural and jewelry items, I also make a variety of things that fall into the category of “functional art”. While in the process of making something, there are numerous decisions that get made along the way that can affect the outcome of the finished project. Many of these decisions pertain to the quality of the product. It is important to me that I make things well.

The term “quality” has two aspects. The first aspect is measurable. For example, in the case of a table, the flatness of the top and evenness of legs can be measured. So can its load-bearing abilities, its height and other practical concerns related to its function.

The second aspect of quality is more elusive and much more subjective. Much like beauty, our measurement of this aspect is measured internally by our responses to it. We perceive something and interpret it. Our interpretations are swayed by our previous experiences. How many tables have we seen? How does this compare to previous tables? Does the form evoke any feelings? When presented with an object, we approach it with certain expectations. When the perception of¬†an object¬†exceeds our expectations, the object is deemed to have “high quality”.

When artists get together and talk freely, there is often a discussion about how our best work is yet to come, or how we feel that we are always on a course for improvement in our work. Every day is a new day, fresh because it is enhanced by experiences from all the days before it. Any kind of undertaking, when accomplished, brings a unique set of lessons from the experience. Artists get better by making more.