Excuse the blurry quality of this picture- I was so excited to see this in the V&A that I snapped a quick photo and didn't check how it turned out.
This question seems to keep popping up lately. We spent a day discussing the difference in my art history class, and then a month later I participated in a debate over the topic with a few guys in the ceramics shop where I've been working.
According to my art teacher, the only difference between an artist and an artisan is that an artist can sign their work, while an artisan cannot. In the debate at the ceramica, the consensus was that an artist is someone who makes something solely to be beautiful, while an artisan makes something practical that happens to also be beautiful. They added a third dimension to the list: aficionados. They said that the artisan is able to make his living by his craft, while the aficionado merely does it for fun.
What do you think, fellow crafters? Can we call ourselves artists, even though our products are practical, and we can't, or don't, sign them? What degree of skill is needed to call yourself an artisan?