Art is for Everyone

I’ve written a few times about my experience as an art major in college. It only lasted my freshman year, and then I switched to a (highly useful) English degree after that. After changing my major, I often wandered the halls of the art building feeling sad and lost inside. I felt like a starving person with no money standing outside the Bellagio buffet.

Still, I felt like I made the right decision, just like when I dumped my theater scholarships to study art and still to this day feel a twinge of sadness when I hear showtunes.

Why did I leave art?

Lots of reasons, all of which I hope to explore here later because I feel they’re valuable, but one of the biggest reasons is that I felt like art “abandoned” me somehow. Art was like a lifelong friend who turned into a jerk once we got to college. Instead of finding my artistic voice and feeling free and creative, we debated the definition of art and whether beauty has value. The art department praised the new, edgy, shocking, and obscene while scoffing at “decorative objects”, or “pretty” art. Crucifixes in jars of urine were “art”, but a simple drawing with no other purpose than to be pleasing was not. “Hard” art was “good”, while “soft” art was not. Real art was either be sold for thousands or millions of dollars, or not sold at all. Art was for people with money and doctoral degrees, or those who were willing to starve for it.

While I took notes and felt my spirit shrinking, I could only think “Man Art, you used to be cool.”

Don’t get me wrong, I had some good times as an art major. I met some great people and had my moment of zen moments perched on a drawing horse while sketching wads of crumpled paper, but I came into the art program wanting to be an artist, and I left it wanting nothing to do with the art world. The art world was a crooked, elitist place and I wanted nothing to do with it.

Luckily, I’ve come to my senses.

I barely made any art in college. I made art for assignments, but that was about it even though I haunted the local art galleries and put all kinds of good ideas on the back burner until I felt like being an artist again. Last spring, I started painting for fun again and in the fall, Sam suggested that I try selling art. I started learning about the real world rather than the art world, and I realized that it’s not such a scary place after all; at least it doesn’t have to be. I learned about Etsy and met all kinds of artists who are real people and proud of it. (I’m not saying that edgy, post-modern artists aren’t real, it’s just the image that’s not real.)

Most of all, I realized that owning and enjoying art isn’t limited to rich collectors or people with alphabets behind their names. Art can be affordable, approachable, and most of all: fun. It doesn’t have to make a huge statement or be shocking (though it certainly can). Sometimes, art can just be pretty. It can just make someone happy when she looks at it. It belongs in homes, offices, on desks, in wallets, in our jewelry boxes, on our notebook covers, everywhere! Anyone can make it, and anyone can enjoy it. It can say anything or nothing.

Art is for everyone, and that’s one of the messages I hope to send with my own art. I don’t mean that my art is for everyone, because not everyone will like it and that’s fine. I want my art to be approachable, thoughtful,  beautiful, and fun. I want it to be accessible and positive. Not everyone has room or money for large art, so I’ve started making small art as well, and I have plans to expand my shop and share my art with as many people as possible.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. What do you think about the art world, or what art “is”?

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Posted on April 13, 2012, in Art, Authenticity, Creativity, Fear, Learning and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I agree…it should be fun!

  2. You make some good points here, especially about ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ art, and intellectual elitism/snobbery. Many in today’s art world seem to attach no value to ‘pleasure’ as a response to art: the joy one can get from simply looking at something beautiful. I thought this was particularly in evidence in the responses of critics to Hockney’s RA show – very snippy – compared to those of the general public, who by and large seem to have come away exhilirated with the sheer joy of the thing. I’m not promoting ‘chocolate-box’, far from it, but art that inspires such simple, positive reactions as joy and pleasure is not to be sniffed.
    Good for you, and good luck with your endeavours.

    • Thanks for your great comment! I have seen situations like that, where an art show/book/performance/movie gets terrible reviews, but everyone I know loved it. I wonder why we have such a hard time accepting the value of pleasure, especially in America. It’s an interesting thought.

  3. *sniffed at*! Haha – you can certainly sniff the art, if that’s your thing. 🙂

  4. I totally Agree! I love your art…Autumn is my fave! Good luck!

  5. I enjoy all medias of art, especially being a photographer. Tiny to Small as well as Medium to Large – love it! Thanks for sharing and Have a Great Weekend:)

  6. I Love your statements about how art should be accessible. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I’ve really been drawn to the idea of street (or guerilla) art because it has this philosophy. A really awesome artist that makes art accessible and fun is Keri Smith. She really urges people to explore and play with their surroundings, transforming these discoveries into art 🙂

    Beautiful tree paintings, by the way!

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