Friday, May 16, 2014

The Power of Ideas

Muddy Colors' Howard Lyon just wrote a post on Ideas vs. Skills - what matters more in art. It's an extremely worthwhile, thought-provoking read (as pretty much anything on Muddy Colors is.)

What is it that makes you love a particular piece of art? Is it the technical skill on display in the piece? Or is it the idea, the emotion, the story behind it? Which do you value more in your own work? Lyon says it certainly doesn't have to be either/or, but it's worthwhile to consider what's important to you.

Everyone's answer will be different. But I realized a long time ago that for me, the idea is key. I actually remember the exact moment that I realized this. And you guys are gonna think it's way dumb.

Way back when I first started concentrating seriously on art (and thus was in a constant state of extreme frustration with my skill level), I was looking for fun geeky t-shirts and came across this one (link to shirt on Redbubble). I grew up infatuated with Pokémon and so I instantly loved it, but I also had another reaction - just being in awe of its simple brilliance. This isn't exactly a technical masterpiece. There's nothing wrong with it either - it's just simple. I can't imagine that making this image took more than an hour or two at most. But (if you know Pokémon at all) you know what it is instantly. The colors are perfect. The silhouettes are perfect. And most of all, it communicates perfectly what the game and the ideal of Pokémon is all about - evolution. Growing stronger. My two simultaneous reactions were "This is so simple that I could do it" and "That's brilliant and I love it." (I still haven't bought the shirt of course.)

By the way, none of this is meant to slight the artist - here is a link to lomm's profile on Redbubble (and if you love Pokémon I really recommend checking him out). I can't find any further info on him but he is clearly a VERY skilled artist.

Personally I am at a place where I'm trying to get my skills to catch up to my ideas. (I think all artists are always trying to do this, no matter how good you get... but I could do with a little more closing of the gap than most.) For me, there's a certain amount of technical skill that's necessary to express my ideas effectively. So what I am concentrating on, in the day-to-day, is leveling up my skills. However, it's always in the service of how I will execute my next idea.

I love, love, love beautiful pieces of art. I will stare for hours at certain technically masterful pieces trying to understand how they got everything to look just so right. But the pieces of art that linger in my head for a long time are the ones that fulfill me the most intellectually, emotionally through their ideas and their storytelling.

© Gina Florio 2014

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