At least Novalis liked this one, so I decided this might be nodeworthy. =) I wrote this one a couple of years ago, and it still seems to sond like an interesting... thought. I may add some retrospective commentary later - here it is...

WWWWolf's ramblings and ravings about art:
There Is No Art
Expression of creativity is the only thing that matters

WWWWolf, 16th-27th June 1998

"Whatever you do is insignificant, but it is very important that you do it."

- Gandhi


Kids. Gather around me and let the good wolf tell you something more or less interesting...

...about the thing that interests me so much: art. Some people might wonder why, according to me, there is no art; Let me tell you what I think.

First, I have nothing against art. I don't deny that art exists. In short, my message is this: "Art" is something you create, no matter how bad it is, and you are an "artist", just because you create, not because of how good art you do.

I don't agree with the idea that some creations doesn't "deserve to be called art" or a creative person "is not an artist" because he/she is not "good enough".


How I ended up into this conclusion? Does the phrase "There is no art" sound familiar?

Nakor, in Raymond E. Feist's books, insisted that There Is No Magic. This was from Master Magician Pug's observation that all is magic - there are no "paths" of magic, only the limitations of the spellcaster dictate what spells can be cast.

I'm a creative creature. Some might call me an artist (well, just an amateur, of course), and some might call me a writer (well, actually I just happen to think and write a lot...). I have a need to express my creativity in various ways. I write, I doodle, scribble and torture pixels, I make computer programs, I sing and do some random composing (I'm not good at playing any instrument, though...). I'm good at some areas, getting better every day on others, and so on. Some stuff I create is pretty good, some stuff might be if I only would spend more time with it, and so on.

All is art. There is no "Lesser Path" of Kitsch and "Greater Path" of Art - Only the skill level and patience of the artist dictate what the outcome of the artist's production is. And the outcome can always be improved.

What is art?

Magic is an arcane art, of course. If magic could be used in real world, it would require use of your skills. First meaning of the word "art" is the use of skills. There is the art of computer programming, art of shooting with bow, art of arranging flowers and then there is the usual meaning.

Art is what artists create. Art is what culture has. Art is what hangs in galleries, sits in library shelves, and is heard in concert halls. Art is just a fine name for brilliant creations. That's it: quality is what divides the creations of human creativity to "art" and "rubbish".

Some people don't know the brilliance behind the scenes. They don't understand "art". Some people like "art". Someone's art is other's rubbish. It is impossible to create something that pleases everyone.

If there is a quality threshold that says what is art and what is not, there is no such thing as "art" -- True Art is something that must be so good that no one really wants to say bad things about it. Ultimate mastery of skills. No matter how good artist you are, this goal is unreachable. Some jerk will call your art mediocre.

Some people do fine works by trying their best, yet the rest of the world don't understand. Some people create things just as a temporary solution, some creations are made to last until the end of the world.

Redefinition of "Art"

We need to redefine what's art and what's not. We call good creations art. What exactly is good enough to be called art? Exactly, as I said, it depends on do you think if it's good or not. Thus, I will drop the word "good" from equation.

What you create is art. It doesn't matter if it's a picture, book or a computer program, it's just expression of your creativity.

How much you use your creativity doesn't matter. Some people doodle, scribble and draw interesting collections of lines to represent what their idea is. That's art, isn't it? Sure, you might not like it. Even the creator might not like it. Nonetheless, it's art.

Some people spend hours and hours, practice, correct their mistakes, and produce a real masterpiece. That's art, and everyone agrees. What the art galleries want is Art. Great art. Art that's so good that some people like. Not all, but many do.

People call this art, right? Why can't they call something witty someone drew "art"? Something your 5-year old kid drew in bank hall while he or she was waiting for you to finish your bank business? Because it is not good enough to please their eye?

How much you worked on this creation doesn't matter. It's art. All you create is art. The only thing that matters it that you created it somehow.

What about skill? Quality? Time? Motives?

Skill doesn't matter, either. Quality doesn't matter, either. Even time doesn't matter. And the motives behind your art are a completely separate issue. Art is about creation.

Does the skill matter? No, your skills will improve over time, and if you don't create things, your skills will never improve. Does the quality matter? No, you can always find something to improve from around you, especially from things you have created, so you can always improve your works - nothing is perfect. Does the time matter? No, as long as you live you can do creative work.

Even the motive behind art doesn't matter. Some people do art solely for their profit. Some people do art for art's sake. Then there are others who do it for both monetary and entertainment purposes. Work of art is work of art, no matter how much you're planning to get from it. Motives behind art and the art itself are two separate philosophical things.

Artists - the people who create, nothing more

Creativity cannot be taught. It's a gift that has been given to everyone. This monkeybrain-based lifeform just happens to be a creative species.

So, you create. Are you an artist? Artist - professional artist? Okay, that's a valid title. Someone who does art for living, nothing more. Someone might ask, when you start creating stuff, when you stop being a doodler/paint spewer and become an artist? Nope. Artist is someone who creates works of art. If you create, you do art. Thus, if you create, you are an artist. Anyone who creates works of art is an artist. No need to be a good one, no need to be a professional one.

Thinking of that, how good artist is depends on hir skills (can be improved) and if you like hir works (subjective, so this reason needs to be dropped). Professionality doesn't matter either, as I said, the motives behind art don't matter.

If you create things, no matter how badly, you are an artist. Yes, you might not be a good artist. You might not be a world-famous artist. You might not be a rich artist. (Well, on the other hand, artists don't need to be rich, right?)

For God's sake, keep scribbling...

Suppose you like the idea you are a member of a creative species so much that you want to use your skills. You're not good at creating things, but you know that some day you can do it better. No one knows you, but since you have shown your creations to other people and they didn't exactly ran screaming away, you know you have some chances of someday becoming a world-famous artist. You don't have much money know, but when you have more money, you spend it to get better conditions for your creations.

What happened to me? I spent time looking at pictures and drawing copies of them, and somehow I figured out more ways of drawing things. I also learned more patience, so that I can spend more time with my art. Someone knows me, I have received "That's neat" reviews from other people, and I guess more people will be able to see my art later. I don't get any money from my art right now, maybe later (I'm of the rare group that does art for art's sake), but I've spent a lot of money on equipment.

Hesitating? Trust me. Create. Go on and create. All you need is ideas. After ideas (and maybe some external help), use the gray thing inside your skull to transform this into a bizarre new thing. You have your lifetime to make this thing a work of art. Sharpen your skills during the years. If they don't like your works, maybe you are not good enough yet. There's no need to give up, and you might want to listen to them and ask them what was wrong with that.

Some stuff to the end of the document

What about this text? Well, I wrote it. My creativity for this sparked from Raymond E. Feist's stories and Gandhi's bit of wisdom. I don't claim to be a good writer - after all, I got a medium grade from the Finnish exam of matriculation examination. I'm not too skillful in English language, considering my native language is Finnish. I wrote this stuff during a long period of time - bulk of it during one boring evening during trip to Germany in a small cottage in Sweden. And heck, I'm not getting fame for this anyway. Motives? Heck, go forth and spread the word, I just want that people would stop you to asking what I mean.

Mandatory part About the Author

Urpo Lankinen is a strange creative creature who likes doing literary work by sending tons of stuff to Usenet and various other Internet forums, and also likes doing more-or-less pretty stuff with graphics programs.

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