Thursday, December 26, 2013

How to stand out in the crowd?

There is a lot of art out there. As a part-time artist, the question begs to be asked: How can one stand out? Additionally, how can one know that the pursuit of artistic creation is worthy of one's time, when there are so many other conversations happening out there? Practical considerations aside, how can one know that the work they have produced is a valuable contribution to the "artistic community", as it were? It certainly can be daunting to think about, especially if one secretly harbors a desire for the level of fame or notoriety of a Picasso or a Klimt, yet knows the chances of such reach are very slim indeed, particularly in the modern era of booming population and near ubiquitous access to the internet.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic here, just philosophical (despite my sore lack of philosophical training, but I'm okay with that). If all the famous art has already been painted, and anyone can produce and distribute art, then why should I bother? What should drive me to want to create art? How can I successfully stand out and command a following? I suspect I'll be working on formulating an answer to these questions for a long while, but the best I can come up with at the current moment is: Because I am me. It's true that my paintings must be at least somewhat good or else I wouldn't have a leg to stand on (and I finally know this is true because people who do not know me have sought out my art), but I think a bigger driver of my artistic appeal is indeed who I am, whether as Ladydean or as myself (and it's true that there is not much of a difference between the two).

I'm starting to recognize that part of the reason people want my art or want to see what I'm doing is because it's me doing it. That may sound egotistical, and that's okay. It may be part of the reason why a painting I create stands out from a pretty, mass-produced picture on sale at the big store retailer in town. The painting in the store may be aesthetically appealing (and may in fact be a reproduction of a work by a famous artist), but it probably lacks soul, and the person who buys it will eventually become aware of this. I've noticed that at some point, people being people, buyers of art want to acquire a piece because of its human element and will thus seek out local or regional (or national or international, depending on one's budget) works and be willing to pay for what it represents, in addition to whatever visual or symbolic appeal it holds for them. The art must reflect some human element at that point.

I often think about life in anthropological terms, and one of the constant questions turning over in the back of my mind is: What is uniquely human? Tool making has been considered by many anthropologists, and challenged by many zoologists (or whatever), so we won't count that. I personally think the answer to this question is: To be aware of the past; to contemplate the future; to assign meaning to things, concepts, and experiences; to communicate via the use of symbols; to create and love art; and to be aware of our own mortality. Art is on that list as uniquely human and so I do not see the creation of art as superfluous or pointless; it is a fundamental human need to both create and consume art, rationality be damned. We may not know why we like a certain painting, why a certain sculpture pisses us off, why we have to have it, why we'll pay anything to get it; the fact that we must have it is all the justification needed to support the idea that art is humanity.

My challenge as an artist and contemplator of humanity is to find out how best to tap that reaction in my audience; how to create a piece of art that grabs, pulls, evokes, and satisfies; how to move the viewers so that they'll seek out my work and remember it; how to stand out in the crowd of artistic noise by dint of my effort to just be myself and, in the process, arouse a feeling...

Or is it all bullshit?

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