High Art vs. Low Art (also known as “pfft… whatever”)
I had a great conversation with some artists at work this week. We talked about the flowering of the “low” art market these days and the opportunities that this offers to a wider range of artists.
There are essentially 2 different “streams” of art: “Low” and “High” Art.
“High Art” is the traditional idea of art in galleries and museums. The art is often written about in art journals, is critiqued academically and is often academic &/or theory-based in nature and becomes part of the dialogue of the art movement as a whole.
“Low Art” is everything else.
“Low Art” is illustration, comics, animation, game design, editorial, music posters and album art, surf culture, toy design, skate culture, street art, urban art, t-shirt art, card design, fabric design… traditionally anything that is more commercial in nature is considered “Low Art”.
(I wouldn’t take this to mean a value judgment of “high = good”, “low = bad”. I’m sure at one point that was implied, but not anymore. Not at all.)
The ShiftWhat is shifting these days is the appearance of “Low Art” in galleries and traditionally “High Art” spaces. There is a shift in appreciation and consumption of commercial art as fine art that is being embraced by the general public for the first time.
I see the increased popularity and attendance at comic conventions as being integral to the embracing of illustration and commercial art styles by the general public.
(167 000+ people attended San Diego Comic Con in 2015. 128 000+ attendees at FanExpo 2015 in Toronto.)
Peter Chan, Jason Edmiston, Bobby Chiu, Kei Acedera, Audrey Kawasaki, Tara Mcpherson, Drew Brophy, N.C Winters, James Jean, Andrew Bell, Alex Pardee, Michael Cho, Camille Rose Garcia… are just a few of the artists who are making a living (and often a good living) by creating what they love and are passionate about.
Bastions of “High Art” (the gallery and museum) are now opening up for all artists with fine art gallery shows for “low art” (especially the increasing popularity of the “pop surrealism” genre).
The public desire and consumption of original and reproduction work in traditionally commercial styles has cracked the whole “art market career potential” wide open.
There is room for you in exactly the way you want to create and what you have bubbling up from your core to share.
There is room for you and your vision.
You don’t have to try and fit your art into an existing stream.
Get rid of all the “shoulds” and constraints of the external expectations of where your art will fit. Or how it will sell.
Your job when creating is to create without restriction.
Create from the authentic clarity of your inner voice.
The art world is breaking wide open. And it’s global. Don’t worry about where you fit.
First, you create from your guiding vision.
Create the beauty and truth and joy your have to share.
Bring that into the world without restriction.
Then together, we’ll figure out how to sell the shit out of it.