If you’ve been an artist for any amount of time you’ve probably heard this phrase: “I don’t necessarily know what direction we should go with, but I’ll know it when I see it. I can always tell if something looks good.” And they say it with such a smug expression as if their skill of identifying good things were a special talent – unique to them.
But that isn’t a special skill. Everyone knows what’s good when they see it. Everyone knows what they like. That’s no special thing.
But so very few people realize why they like something or why they don’t like something. That’s what can be so frustrating for artists. You’ll hear things like: “We need to do this over. I don’t know what’s wrong with it I just don’t like it.” So frustrating, right?
So many people know what they like, they just don’t know why. And that’s the opportunity for the artist. The artists gets to figure out what the client/pastor/passerby likes about something and recreate the heart of the art.
That’s what can keep an artist from copying something they see. They don’t have to copy it. They just have to capture what’s good about a piece and recreate that.
And that is what makes an artist. It isn’t skill. It isn’t the tools. It’s understanding why something is good or bad. That’s a much more rare ability. Searching out the matter.
That’s the pursuit of the artist. The why.