Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I sorta feel as though I should apologize for my rant on art in the previous entry. It would be terrible if I offended someone else's art tastes; I really don't want to do that. It would have been better to give an actual argument for why those styles drive me nuts, rather than just exclaiming that they're ugly and I hate them. I do have reasons, so I'll try to lay them out clearly and calmly :)

These faux-retro, faux-folksy/rustic, faux-arts-and-crafts, kitschy elements (deer, squirrels, owls, horses, etc) are often paired with or incorporated into intricate patterns. For those of you who checked out printpattern, you know that it is possible to have a career in surface design, and that is a career I intend to have. I do feel threatened by these patterns, because they often contain elements that I seek to create, and the artists who have created them are ridiculously successful artists. When I see people working in a style very close to mine, but worse (in my humble opinion) and being ridiculously successful at it, I kind of get panicky and annoyed.

There’s something about this style of art that is incredibly trendy, and everyone (in the blogs I read) is gobbling it up like there’s no tomorrow. But there’s the feeling that they (the blog authors) feel so unique and eclectic in their sense of style, especially when it comes to the “bad” art. Maybe we’re trying so hard to stand out in our global village of giant corporations and mass-mass-produced products that we’ll grasp ahold of anything that will make us different, including terrible (sorry) paintings of a human and a bear dancing. It’s as if they secretly do know the work is awful, but want to have that “unique and eclectic” taste that sets them apart from their artsy friends, because they can see the genius in the work and nobody else can because their appreciation for art is not as wide or deep or visionary. But we all want to be that visionary person in our circle of friends, so we compete to be obsessed and in love with the ugliest piece of “art” we can find. (Now I feel like I’m writing an entry for “Stuff White People Like”.)

So there’s another thing I don’t like: the “bad” drawing/painting - the image that looks as though it were painted by an eight year old or doodled by a highschooler during chemistry class. The quickest example I can think of is Napoleon Dynamite’s drawings, or Raymond Pettibon actually, which would be a better example. With the latter especially- and this is why I dislike that style so much. Pettibon’s drawings have a juvenile/amateurish look to them for sure, which to me denotes a sense of innocence and naïveté, since they look like kid drawings. But his art is definitely not for children, and that mixing of external innocence (the appearance of the image) and internal darkness (the actual message of the work) has caused me to dislike anything that resembles it. Also, I grew up in systems where you had to display technical ability as well as the ability to create work with meaning. I am not impressed with art that is drawn to look bad. It just hinders the message, I think. And artists who challenge that notion in their art are brats. :)

Another thing that bothers me: the “faux-retro, faux-folksy/rustic, faux-arts-and-crafts, kitsch” often looks like cheap art, and looks like it intends to look like cheap art- like cheap art that actually came from the 70s and you found it for fifteen cents at a garage sale. It’s the same thing as people buying faux-retro t-shirts of a pixely Mario. That stuff was made using 21st century machines and technology two months ago to be sold to look like you dug it out of the attic, where it’d been sitting in the dust for the past twenty years. What a strange market- we aren’t clamoring for new and innovative products (well, not in this specific example), but rather for things that look old and worn. Brand-new items from the past. With deer on them.

I could go on and on about this for a long time, but a lot of my thoughts are still in the process of being translated in to coherent sentences and cohesive paragraphs. I welcome the thoughts of others! Please share :) Bye for now.


DM said...

I didn't realize it was a human and a bear dancing until you said something. I thought it (the bear) was this really old guy with a long white beard (the human's head) and holding some sort of scythe or other implement, and I thought it was supposed to be death walking though a forest.

Then I was confused as to why this woman was so excited about the painting.

I liked it better when it was death.

Or maybe it's just early morning and I'm not awake yet.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. I only like child-like paintings when actual children do them, because that creates a certain value to them. When adults revert back to child-like paiting, it just doesn't work. I hate the retro-70's art, eeew! There is a reason why style changes, and it is because there are better styles now!! Plus the painting are like, pink, brown, and oh, let's stick a blue deer over here.

Nicholas said...

I concur.

and your thoughts didn't come across as jumbled as you may think.


Marli said...

Without feeling it needs explaining: I thought that was a terrible picture. Just bad.

Having worked with artists many, many times, generally in children's animation, I have a HUGE appreciation for the beautiful animated creations of monsters and children, often with a "childish" hand. This does not mean an 8 yr old did it, it means it is simplistic. I love that. Examples? Monsters Inc, or this site: http://iwaswondering.org/ (yeah, I worked on it *grin* - oh, and ignore Lia, I find her voice annoying)

Anywho. SO, yeah, agreeing with you on the kitsch. Not a fan. BUT I got my journal yesterday and the pics did NOT do it justice!!!! I brought it to work to show off today - BEAUTIFUL! THANK YOU!!!!