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Dogma in the art world

Art is much more subjective than other creative professions. Music, for example, has many genres, but musicians can pretty easily be sorted into a hierarchy based upon their skill, originality, and either trained or innate abilities. Whether they are playing Jazz, or the Blues, Classical or Heavy Metal, a musician's skill (or lack of) is readily apparent to those with any training in music. Art, though, isn't that straightforward. While the average person knows what they like, the art world has built a hierarchy that isn't based upon the skill of the artist or the quality of their craft.


In the art world, instead of measuring an artist by the mechanics of their craft, skill has been supplanted by philosophical platitudes, acceptability to the tribe, and bias that favors process over outcome. Many really solid and skilled artists are shunned, while many talentless hacks are elevated--so much so--that much of the art world often makes no sense to the average observer. Nobody has to explain to the listening audience what a song means, but in the art world, there are whole college courses cranking out minions ready to explain to you what art means because honestly, much of it isn't apparent to anybody that isn't self-medicating. Some of the greatest artists who have ever existed are alive right now, but they see their work sell for a fraction of the price of work produced by the trendy superstars whose actual work exhibits very limited skill, effort, or talent.


Going back to the music analogy, imagine if the world of music was ruled by an established mindset that believes, in essence, that freeform Jazz is the only real music, and those who play classical, blues, pop, or rock are not only not musicians, they are to be scorned and rebuked as being imposters. For nearly a century, students going through the system have been taught to rebuke and scorn those who don't think like the establishment, regardless of the skill of either the critic or the musician being criticized. These students are the brown shirts of the music world, harshly calling on the carpet those who don't buy into the dogma and limit themselves to Jazz that is by its nature, supposed to avoid recognizability. If you can hum along to it, then it isn't music. That, in essence, is the world of art. Not your local gift shop/gallery, but the art industry and education system in particular. You are only considered a "real" artist if you prescribe to their dogma, and talent, skill, or audience preferences be damned.


Many Illustrators, like Norman Rockwell, were (and are still) completely dismissed by the art clique. Despite the fact that those illustrations were adored by throngs, and the skill of the illustrator is apparent to even the most casual of observers, the work is dismissed and even scorned because realism is passé and therefor offensive to the clique. Acceptability to the masses is almost a sure predictor that an artist's work will be unacceptable to the establishment.


I choose to play down the title of artist because of my disdain for the politics and groupthink that rule the world of the artist. An illustrator's customers want images that can take their message to their target demographic. In this effort, the quality of the product and the skill of the artist rule supreme. An illustrator who has mastered their craft can ply their skills and get paid for their effort outside of the constraints and gatekeeping efforts of the art establishment and their critical minions.






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