TEN MYTHS ABOUT ARTISTS #7: Real Art Doesn’t Match the Sofa

MYTH: Real artists never compromise. They never make art that has to matches a sofa.

REALITY: Just exchange “some” for “real”, and “sometimes” for “never”. Oh, heck, just stop making things black and white, and let some gray area in.

Art has fulfilled powerful roles throughout history. From our human need to know and touch our gods, to our cries for social justice, art has served many purposes. Cathedrals are attempts to do the first, Picasso’s Guernica strove for the second. Conceptual art explores ideas at the expense of materials or process.

So…Art is profound. Art says something. Art is provocative. Art demands reaction, engagement, comment.

But art is also….beautiful. Art is healing. Art is quiet, or simply enjoyable.

And we all know art that’s just weird, dumb or shallow.

Art is all of these things, because beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. One generation’s “good art” is the next generation’s sentimental tripe. And one generation’s “garbage” is another generation’s masterpiece.

“Guernica” is a powerful work of art. But it’s also perfectly acceptable not to want it in our living room. For one thing, it’s huge! (And there’s only one, so only one of us could have it.) (I know we could all have prints of Guernica, and its message is that important to some people. But I like to have real stuff that a real person has made–that’s important to me, too.)

Art in the widest sense can fill the smallest spaces. Not every song is a symphony. Not every dance move is a ballet. Not every scribble is a cave painting. Not every poem is The Iliad.

Art is big enough to find a place in everyone’s life. And the world is big enough for all our art.

It’s okay to paint a lovely landscape to grace someone’s home–even one that goes with the sofa pretty nicely. Although it’s also cool when someone chooses a sofa to go with the painting.

Years ago, a visitor to our home perused our record collection (which tells you how long ago this was) and sniffed, “You can tell a lot about people from their music collection.” To which another visitor replied coolly, “Yeah, you can tell what kind of music they like!” I love that! We don’t all like the same kinds of music. But there are very few people who don’t love music, some kind of music, period.

I started my art path by making tiny fabric dolls and knitted animals. They were sweet and adorable. They were not “powerful” by any means. They had nothing to “say”. Or so I thought. But in them were the the tiny seeds of my desire to make something that made people happy. As my desire to connect in a different way grew, so did my handiwork.

And I’m still not done growing yet.

Make the art that’s in YOU. Don’t worry if if’s not “serious” or “profound”. Try not to compare yourselves to others. It’s hard, we all do it. But don’t stay there.

Don’t be embarrassed that we aren’t a Mozart, or a Picasso. Those incredible folks are art’s aberrations, not the norm. There is plenty of room in the world for the rest of us. There is a need for a well-made pot, a truly comfortable chair, a lovely flower arrangement, a catchy song.

Just make it. Bring it into the world. You and your art may “grow”, or not. It doesn’t matter.

Because the art that is in you, is unique to you. And it yours–all yours–ONLY yours–to give.

What you make, may be just what the world needs, today.