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Friday August 2, 2013, at 10:56 pm

Not an Artist

I’ve been watching an online show about comic books recently, and in the theme song, among

Is this art?

Is this art?

other things, it says that a well known comic book illustrator is not an artist. This is meant, at least partially, as a joke, but it got me thinking about what it means to be an artist.  The problem is that the definition of an artist is someone who makes art, but how do you judge if something is art (or do you judge at all?). I for one don’t particularly think that an unmade bed is art, but a lot of people seem to disagree and is my opinion more valid than theirs?

Still, some standards do seem to be in order because if anyone who didn’t bother to tuck in their sheets is an artist then the word really doesn’t really mean anything. On the other hand if we say that the only thing that is art are things we already consider art then not only are comic book illustrators never going to be considered ‘real artists’ but neither would a lot of people who pushed art forward. I’m not an expert, but abstract art, cubism, expressionism and picasso-cubismmany other types of art we now consider classic were once new and I’m certain misunderstood by many.

I suspect part of the question of a lot of modern art isn’t so much that people don’t like it, though a lot of people don’t, but that they think the artist is secretly laughing at them. So someone who does something that appears difficult, even if it has no more meaning, is likely to get more respect. But this leads to the simple question of whether skill defines art.

There is no simple answer. Making art does take skill, but that isn’t what defines it as art anymore than the type of media makes it art. A comic book artist is just as much an artist as a sculptor,  but on the other hand they can copy other people’s work and call it their own. The only thing I can say is that real art, the kind that we care about takes a lot of effort. It isn’t something that just happens. But how do I know how much effort the person who splatters paint on a canvas puts into it. Perhaps I just don’t get it, like so many people don’t get comic books. So, I’m going with the simple answer. If I don’t like it I just won’t pay it any attention, but I’m certainly not going to say that it isn’t art. Just don’t hold me to that when that person I don’t like starts drawing my favorite comic book.


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