Professional or something else?

HerbSeptember 21, 2005

If you go to a doctor or to a lawyer with some need or problem, you expect that - assuming he's both honest and competent - that he'll acquaint himself with all your facts, symptoms and so on - and then give you sound advice or treatment.

That is what entitles them to the title of 'Professional'. They are expected to have measurable expertise in medicine, or law, and are required to apply it properly, to an accepted, high standard. They have a duty to give any given patient or client much the same treatment or advice no matter which doctor or lawyer he consults.

Now, compare this to a person who specialises in building Japanese gardens for his clients and consider - how to measure whether the specialist in Japanese garden construction has, like the doctor or lawyer, the required expertise, and whether he has applied it properly?

It would seem, using doctors and lawyers as indicators of what it means to be professional, that - with minor differences - the garden client should expect a very similar result for his garden, no matter which garden specialist he consults. If he cannot expect this, does it place the garden specialist in an entirely different category - e.g. not that of Professional, but that of Artist?


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I have a friend who has practiced Chinese herbal medicine and accupuncture for almost half a century. Her treatments have always succeeded where licensed doctors have failed. She is not eligible for a license to practice in the US. Still I believe she is both a professional and an artist. It's just that her methods have only been practiced on humans for a few hundred years, not FDA monkeys.

As evidenced by the previous long post on Japanese garden modernism, authenticity, and personal taste, there seems to be many categories of what is considered expertice. The men who taught me I doubt would appreciate some of the recent garden designers as experts. This does not make them right or the modernists wrong. They are simply from different worlds with different ideals and values.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 8:18PM
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I am not sure how this question pertains to " a person who specialises in building Japanese gardens" in particular. Neither am I convinced that the definition of "professional" as described is all that accurate, would you care to say what you mean sir?

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 8:28PM
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Herb --- Then the question arises.. who is an artist?.. by popular defintion it would seem : everyone is. Look where some modern 'art' is heading.. body fluids on display.. stained bedsheets mounted on a gallery wall! ... of course, these are the worst (best?) examples I'm citing.. rather like [C]Rap music.. sigh..

I've come across my fair share of quack doctors too - so it would seem there are charlatans in every walk of life

Caveat emptor! :)


    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 11:02PM
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MrNorth4(Sweden ZOne 1)

Well if i would ever hire a japanese gardener to design my garden, I would of course look at his previous designs, every good artist has a portfolio. I doubt that a "true" japanese gardener doesnt have some kind of references... either as a standalone professional, or as a apprentice.

If I would hire a gardener that has excellent references as an apprentice, I could hire him for the job, but at a much lower fee than a professional. I think thats really fair.

About lawyers and doctors, like all professions there are fakes... people with a degree but no real knowledge... I try to stay a way from doctors whenever I can, just because their lack of skills... DItto for lawyers...


    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 3:46AM
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patjonking(z7 VA)

Medical Doctors dedicate their entire adult lives to science and helping people. As a group they are some of (if not THE) most intelligent members of our society. To attack them as "quacks" or "lacking skills" is just bizarre and ignorant.

To respond to your comments, Herb, I would like to point out that Medical Doctors and Lawyers need to PROVE they have certain skills before they become licensed to practice. Anyone can call themselves an "artist" or even a "Japanese garden designer." The terms are merely self-descriptive titles.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 12:36PM
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Jack & Henrik,

I think you've got the right grasp of the essentials - professionalism can be measured, whereas artistry can't - though when it comes to charlatans who claim to be artists, they are often acclaimed by the ignorant as if they were artists . And despite professionalism being measurable, there are many incompetents among those licenced as, or claiming to be, professionals. (Putting it another way - the average doctor is no more competent than is the average lawyer. A frightening thought, eh?)

If I were going to hire anybody to make a Japanese garden for me, I'd insist first on viewing several gardens that he'd made for other people & then make my own mind up about whether he was likely to be worth the money.

Some people might tell me that the man I'd selected for the job was a 'cookie cutter' garden designer, and not an 'original Artist'. It wouldn't bother me. My response would be that to the extent that he was a cookie cutter designer, he was being entirely professional, and that in any event, his gardens showed that he was the kind of designer who combined cookie-cutting with originality - and that made him, in my eyes, both a Professional and an Artist.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 1:00PM
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Patkonking -

The statement that the average doctor is no more competent than the average lawyer is from an actual conversation a few years ago with one of my friends who is a lawyer and whose father was an eminent surgeon & it was he who made the remark.. My response - that it was a frightening thought - was taken in very good part, while we both reflected, ruefully, that it was, indeed a bit unsettling......


    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 1:29PM
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Last night I saw a back surgeon take apart the spine of a young boy. Hand shaping each vertabrate. One wrong move and the boy would never walk again. His colleagues called him an "artist" and certainly he is a professional !!

The assumption that two competent doctors would both suggest the simalar treatments is not very sound ..

If this was the case there would be only one kind of automobile , truck , tweezers , and the first cure for any disease would be the last and final cure for that disease.

Professionals and artist are both innovate.

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   January 20, 2007 at 9:13PM
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yama(7b Ga)

Hi all
You have good question.
Yeras ago One of one time customer who was dentest, he as waiting after hour a cliant. He had few drinks,I smell alcohole from his breath. He was a professioanal.

An attorney who worked for mafia , he kiiled his partner and he was waiting sentecing. We did'n t know that. He stop by my friend's garden shop and order few plats which I delivered to his Miami beach home. He had second house at west plam beach. He also asked deiliver plants to west palm beach home. I helped my friend and delivered plants.
He asked me if I can work few days at his west palm beach home. He offered me for cost of hotel, meal and told me bring wife as well. I recived a check and gave it to friend. few day later Bank called my friend and noticed that check is baneced. My friend hired an attororny and collect amount he owed. Later croocke attory sentced for long time killing his law firm partner. One of Judge in Florida areested for stealing drug from evidence room and sold it. Both are/were professional.

Most of Doctors and attorny are decent but just degree or occupation don't mean much nowadays.

Founder of Matusshita corporation known as panasonic world wide, he din't go college nor highchool middle school. He only had elemntary school education but he was one time a wealthiest man of Japan and invented and pateneted many products. Founder of TOYOTA and Kubota din'd have formal education. MR Toyota was son of carpenter. Mr Kubota was black smith also din't have formal education but both men study hard what they do.

Few years back. a Japanese a garden magazine call him as expart . In his article he missunderstand meaning of "chiri and meji " meaning of chiri and meji is simple and plain. He is profetional, Standard of so called" professitonal" is depend on his atitude toward his profession.

word of "professional gardener", his work will tell either he is professional or not . not by talking.

Being professional is not necsery to be artist. Many so called "shokunin " craftman in Japanese, may not be an artist but they are professional.
Many craft work done by shokunin, offten they don't consider them self artist. but his work went to over sea, offten called "art". it sell for higher price than the craft.

Many profesinals spend his entire life try to perfect his profession, then he is entitled to be called professional.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2007 at 11:39PM
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If you call two plant pathologist to your japanese garden to look at a sick tree infected with a certain bacteria it would be reasonable that they both find the bacteria as the cause of your sick tree. Still there is some lattitude here for for different findings.

The treatment for such a bacterial infection may vary even a bit more between pathologist.

Ask an architect to deign a japanese garden given all your personal information and site data ect and there would be a great lattitude in the final solutions.

This variance of solutions is no measure of professionalism but charecteristics of the problem to be solved. A group of blundering incompetents may have all kinds of solutions for the problems stated above .. this is no evidence of artistry or being an artist.

The set of solutions to a given problem can be broad or narrow. The competent artist or professional can sometimes broaden the set of plausable solutions.

If someone goes to the doctor and the doctor says "I have found your problem .. a giant brain tumor .. six months to live .. your time is up no other solutions" .. this does not increase his professionalism ... it simply means your not having a good day!

Good Day ...

    Bookmark   January 21, 2007 at 8:33AM
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Certification certainly goes a ways, but who certifies the certifiers?

I have attended hundreds of hours of professional lectures without registry, I have gardened for thousands without record. I do hold a state nurseryman's certificate and am currently taking classes for my arborists license. I do these things because they demonstrate dedication to the cause and at least some level of competency. But who certifies niwashi? Or Japanese gardening experts? Perhaps a panel of peers as the ASLA does? Just a thought...


    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 6:34PM
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yama(7b Ga)

When you work or worked, Do you/ did you work professionaly or something else ?
How do you feel when you perform your work professionaly? That makes beer tast better. Isn't it ? ^^ .............yama

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 8:53PM
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