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Ask the Readers: What Do You Consider Art?

Image courtesy of Jim Linwood

When I posted 101 Great Reasons to Be an Artist, one reader wrote to me personally, and said that the question of ‘what motivates people to create art’ raised a whole new question for her – What do you consider art?

There is no objective definition of art. It means different things to different people. So I’d like to open the discussion and ask the readers what do you consider art?

Is art confined to the realm of non-functional decorative creations like paintings and sculptures, or can anything made by hand with skill be considered art? Can a functional building be a work of art? Is a pickled shark a work of art?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment below, or if you prefer, you can join the discussion on Google+

Thanks to Sidney for posing the question.

12 Comments on Ask the Readers: What Do You Consider Art?

  1. Terri says:

    I was thinking last night about doing an installation art piece…sitting on a front porch at night with stars out and a gentle breeze rustling the trees and wind chimes… smelling orange blossoms..of course I would not be the orginal author of that scene.

  2. Mary says:

    I agree with Jess, and I think part of its function is to call attention the complexity and genius of all things manmade, nature made and newly discovered.

  3. Graeme says:

    I think we simply need to spend less time trying to figure out WHAT art is in a single sentence, and instead, just keep creating!

    To be honest I’m sick and tired of this debate.

    I suppose, in the end – art is what ever the hell you want it to be!

  4. Charlie says:

    I was taught on my degree course, and have come to believe, that Art is any kind of expression about the place and times in which the artist lives. Which is pretty broad, and covers craft, and decorative art in a sense also. I hate the division between fine art and craft, personally. Grayson Perry broke some of these barriers, however, his work is obvioulsy very political – with craft being the vehicle for his message. Another lecturer says that art should have something to say, and that each new ‘generation’ of art has histrorically shocked its audience in order to question its values both towards a selected theme/subject. Even the work of Monet and Turner was considered absolutley shocking for its day I am told by my Art History lecturer. So, in, my opinion, there are multiple theories and (often competing) ways of looking at art. I would say that there is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ art but its still all art. It is its impact upon its audience and the way in which it lingers in the midn which makes it meaningful art.

  5. Great question, Dan!
    I think art is whatever you want it to be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will think it’s “good” art, or like it. If something inside you compels you to create something, no matter what it is, why can’t that be art? Art is about expression, but it can also be functional. I would definitely consider everything you see in the world to be art, because either someone had to design it and make it, or nature made it (natural beauty/art).
    I’ve always found this question to be tough, but after you asked it and I thought about it, I’m happy with my answer! Thanks for getting me to think about it. 🙂 Cheers!

  6. Dean Soto says:


    I am not an artist, but love your blog. I tend to enjoy the more philosophical side of art and beauty. That being said, I see art as anything created that has the power to break one’s heart. A painting, a book, or sculpture of such immense beauty that it helps you to forget about yourself and become a part of the art. 🙂


  7. Art – As a contemplative artist, art is the product of my connection to “all that is”….earth, spirit, heaven, life…….and through my heart-centered perspective I perspire, laugh and create to express this connection. I am inspired by my meditations of ordinary experiences and, with my paintings, I share my contemplation.

  8. Emma says:

    I think art is any form of creativity. It can be a drawing, painting, sculpture, anything representative of a form or an idea. That said, I don’t really think a pickled shark is art! So not sure where that leaves me. I think this is a great debate and bet there are as many answers as there are people in the world. I like reading about what others think about this question.

  9. umanbn says:

    I put the same question out on my blog and came back with nearly as many answers as I had questions, such as….When is Art, Art? Is Art still Art when nobody else sees it? What does it take to make a piece of Art? ? Is it possible for someone to pick up a canvas and paint and produce a piece of Art, with no formal training of any kind? If Van Gogh had only ever created ‘Sunflowers’ and nothing else would it still be considered great Art or is it better Art when taken into the context of his life and life’s work? Can a sketch be considered Art? Is it the scale, the context, the technique? Is it Art, if only one person considers it Art, or does it need the approval of many?….I personally consider Art to have succeeded when it allows me to see the world even from a moment from a different view point….of course there are many other criteria but this would be my first….thanks for posting an interesting question!

  10. Preach Jayrick says:

    I think we cannot limit art as only man-made. art is anything which is above the usual thing we see. well, basically everything was created beautifully and artistically by God, so we just can’t say art is man-made, therefore, we consider nature as an art considering that God is also a human indeed right?

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