What is Art?

I've been struggling with being creative lately.  One of my big goals this year is to crank it up a notch in my Stationery store on Zazzle store which involves cranking out some new designs & revamping some old ones.  Every time I sit down to make anything recently I've been faced with a block.  I have the need to be creative but I guess not the desire.  I thought at once it was just artists block - but I think now it's come from deciding what art is.

Sometimes I feel a little lost calling myself an artist, because I rarely produce anything that is art worthy.  Most of the things I do I would consider crafty - unless it comes to pottery - and when I design I feel like I'm just making it up.  I think that is what's blocking me with designing new things for the stationery shop.  I feel like I'm just playing around & when it looks good I put it up for sale.

When I was playing around one afternoon with canvas & black paint I started to think about what art actually is.  I think I've decided it is a process & not just a product.  Here's how I define art:

Art has purpose, it's not just pretty
Art is created with purpose & serves a purpose.  Something you have created should have started from an idea & evolved into something with meaning.  This is often the case when you're asked to create something in response to something else in school.  Where your creation should be filled with meaning & use a visual language that we all speak.  Certain lines give certain moods, principles of art/design are followed (or bent with purpose), & it all challenges you to think.  Art should move you or challenge you.  Art isn't just beautiful - because often times it's not.  Art should be something that is useful - like a dish or a bowl - or something that challenges your ideas of usefulness - empty cans transformed into something else, a bowl with a hole in it.  I don't think many realize that art needs to serve a purpose whether to you or for you or to of for someone else.  Art is not art for art's sake - at least not to me.

The process is an experiment that develops in to a technique
The end product of your experiment isn't necessarily art.  It's ok to play & create as long as you are learning.  This is the personal part of art - you should always be looking to gain something from your experiments.  If it's successful you should develop that technique until you can repeat it.  It shouldn't be a one & done - I don't think it's a unique masterpiece if you never touch the medium again. (However, I guess there could be exceptions.)  If you've completed your experiment & you've realized that you like it and you want to pursue this technique a bit more - you're making art.  If at the end you've realized you're not quite cut out for whatever the task at hand was - you're also making art.  Why are these the same?  Because you're growing as an artist & seeing things not as the are but as they could be or as they could become.  Art is a process, art is making, art is always evolving, art is learning from yourself & others, art is never finished.

Art is repeatable - you can teach others the same technique
While art isn't always easy to explain it should be easy to show others.  You can always learn to draw - no matter how bad you are at it, because it is a skill.  Personal note: currently I suck at drawing, but when I was taking a drawing class I rocked.  I was good at it because I was shown how to do it & was practicing.  It is through learning a skill & practice that we develop our own techniques.  Once's we've developed our own techniques it should be quite easy to repeat the process time & again.  And it should be easy to show others how to do the same.  I think back to all the workshops I attended while in school where we learned a certain technique from an artist.  Art should be a conglomerate of all that came before you and all that you will give back to it.

Creating has always called to me but it's always been a weird battle.  For me, art is humbling & it is a struggle.  I often get intimidated by artists (I touched on that in this post) but the ones I've interacted with have been on my same journey - a journey of discovery & of creativity.  I've always though of art as something worth teaching & something worth sharing.  When others would ask me how to do something in school, I'd show or tell them - because a candle's light is not dimmed by sharing the flame.  One should be humbled by one's creations & one should strive to keep making, no matter the struggle.

xoxo, Moe

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