If you’re not familiar with David Rowyn, you might want to become so. He’s a real thinker, that one. One of his posts, The Lowercase Art Of Magic, brings up some good points regarding the idea of describing magic as an art, and practitioners of magic as artists. I would suggest, however, another possibility: considering practitioners of magic as artisans.
To me, it makes sense. Many things we now consider works of art were merely the output of a labourer – the cornice of a building; a stained glass window; a wall mural; the turned arm of a chair. In their day, the people who created these things wouldn’t be called artists, and it’s doubtful they would call themselves that.
They were, instead, craftspeople, creating utilitarian objects that just so happened to manifest beauty. The intrinsic nature of the object was one of use, and if someone enjoyed it, all the better. I think this describes practitioners of magic perfectly. The ‘use’ in this case is to vanish, or transform, or produce, or restore, or transpose, or any of the other categories of magic suggested by Dariel Fitzkee and others. If someone enjoys it, all the better.
And, just to prove that I did attend university, I’ll close this out with some stanzas I think both quite beautiful and apropos here, from The Builders, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
In the elder days of Art,
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part;
For the Gods see everywhere.
Let us do out work as well,
Both the unseen and the seen;
Make the house, where Gods may dwell,
Beautiful, entire, and clean.