This is a question that can be answered in so many different ways. But essentially, it all comes down to one thing, which I call “the cool factor”. If someone thinks a painting is cool, they will buy it. If a publisher thinks a comic strip is cool, it will be printed. Art is a business at its core, which I know scares alot of artists:
“Art is something that expresses yourself and is beautiful!” “Art is the creative process!” “Art is life!” “Art is anything with a higher meaning!”
Uh-huh, uh-huh. Yeah, I hear you…but you’re wrong. Those are definitions of what art can do, but that isn’t Art with a capital “A”. I could think of myself as the best graphic designer in the world, but it’s the world that determines whether you are or not. How do you know if you’re a successful artist? Simple: People generally enjoy your work and buy it, resulting in (at the very least) a decent living. If you aren’t making money as an artist, you aren’t successful in the field. Or maybe you’ve yet to be discovered, whatever the case may be.
Then there are all those technical terms, such as “abstract” and “representational“. But these words really don’t mean a thing. A piece of artwork could be really abstract, but does that make it “cool”? A drawing could show a fence arranged in a loose pattern of a horse…”oh, that represents a horse!” Who cares? IS. IT. COOL?
A good example of my whole idea here is Michaelangelo, and one of his most famous works: The Sistine Chapel. Why is this considered great artwork? Some might say “because he painted the whole thing while on his back!”. This is true, but that’s more of a physical accomplishment isn’t it? The end product is what matters. Most often, people look at the sheer number of characters in the painting and the size, NOT the intense detail in each character, the message behind it, or who the characters are. If an artist has to explain what something represents so the viewer can appreciate it, it’s not art. Or at least, not good art. Anyone should be able to look at REAL artwork and understand it without interference from an outside source. “I chose the color green for this piece because it emphasizes the envious nature of….” blah blah blah. If it’s not immediately apparant (excluding optical illusion pieces and the like) then it ain’t art.
Money is the blood that keeps our society pumping. I’m not saying this is a good thing in the least, I’m just telling it for what it is. Everyone is a seller of something (time, talent, labor, etc.) and everyone is a potential buyer. It’s logical then that the best seller succeeds, which is how artwork by PRACTICING artists is and should be judged.
Agree? Disagree? E-mail me or post a comment with your thoughts.