Art vs. Taste

Yesterday, I was briefly involved in a discussion about the difference between art and taste, and what constitutes “artistic ability”. I will outline a few of my opinions(not necessarily the opinion of management) on the topic, “after the jump”.

Art is something that comes from practice. Practice and study: study of concepts relating to a particular medium, for example: line, composition and perspective in photography, and the practice of using the tools(pen, sword, Photoshop, guitar, etc) and accompanying technical skills to better express the knowledge one has of those concepts, as well as the idea that originally inspired you.

Art is something that must be practiced and studied. Anybody can express themselves – we are all crying when we come out of the womb. But art is the ability to express yourself and your ideas well through the efforts you make to increase your skill in a particular form. The main ingredient in becoming a great artist is essentially hard work and dedication. You don’t get credit for being an artist until you actually do the work.

Accompanying this practice of art is the ability to have good taste. The two things go hand in hand: someone with good taste has the beginnings of artistic inclination, maybe without the accompanying practice, but they might have “a good eye”.

Good art depends upon people with good taste, in essence to act as amateur(and in rarer cases, professional) critics to offer feedback by the act of choosing to support(aka buy) the work of an artist, designer or craftsman or not. This “critical filter” helps the artist to understand the needs of the people to whom he or she is trying to relate.

Of course – and I should have mentioned this earlier(I guess I just considered it to be common sense?) – taste is completely subjective. What I consider “good” you might consider “tacky” or “middling”. It’s all in the eye of the beholder, so in the end a solid judgment of something comes from the actual execution(which can in many cases be judged by adherence to certain “objective” principles such as composition), how well the artist demonstrates the craft that they have taken years to master. Often I will look at something that is not my cup of tea and think “Well, I don’t particularly like it; but damn they did a good job”.

That said, I have difficulty writing about art – I often ramble(and for that I sincerely apologize to all two of you out there who got this far). I am much better at actually making it, than trying to analyze it, but I thought the discussion I had raised some interesting points and I wanted to see if I could possibly address them. I am still practicing becoming a good writer, so my expression here may be crap – I pray you forgive me.

Oh, and to any of my MFA friends: feel free comment me a new one.

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