“How do you know if your art is good?” asked Pat, who was painting at my Juicy Abstract workshop on Saturday.
It was a wonderful question and deserved more than my first response “I just know.”
I though about that lovely question all weekend, Googled a few experts, and landed in a place of cognizance. Before I could transcribe my thoughts, a second person, Eileen, reached out and surprised me with an even better measure for “Is your art good?”
First, here are four ways to tell whether your art is good, with credit to author Josh Kilen. And then, Eileen’s words.
You know your art is good when…
You gain a collector. Clients and customers come and go. But collectors are there to stay. A collector appreciates you for your work and vision. They love what you do. A collector will buy everything you have to offer, and tell their discriminating friends about you.
Collectors care about what you are doing, they want to be a part of the unique vision you’re creating. Once you find a collector, you know that your work has purpose and a story.
Your work develops a unified theme. You are an artist that creates pieces with a unified vision, a common soul that makes your art unique and distinct from anything else. When a stranger sees your art, they recognize it coming from your hands.
Think Blue Period from Picasso. Haystacks from Van Gough. Glass from Chihuly. That’s a clear vision and voice.
Each piece tells a story. Making unique art coming from a unique and unified theme isn’t quite enough. Your work needs to tell a compelling story as well. All great works of art, the ones that people love, all have a deeper meaning and that comes through telling a story that other people latch onto and begin to tell themselves.
You think more consciously about your work… its story, character, conflict and resolution. It’s emotion. It’s message. It’s connection to the viewer.
You become more certain of yourself. Once you stop asking “Have I made it?” and instead consistently focus on producing more and better work, that’s probably the point where you have made it. When this happens you’ll notice a new and bolder quality to your work.
I call that maturity. But others will simply say it’s wonderful. It becomes a virtuous cycle that produces some of your best work. Keep in mind, art is subjective. You won’t be “wonderful” to everyone.
Now, let me share Eileen’s words. Her email arrived with the subject line: “Thank you for living. Don’t Stop.”
“I teach at the University of Nebraska at Omaha in CPACS, and every day during my break, I take my apple upstairs to look at your beautiful artwork on second floor. Thank you.”
How do you know if your art is good? You will be “wonderful” to those who connect with your voice and listen to your story.
TOP - Live the Life You’ve Dreamed: Go. Do. Be. Tryptic, each panel is 48” x 60”. Beverly Todd, artist. 2015.
RIGHT - Around the Corner. Down the Street, 72” x 48”. Beverly Todd, artists. 2015.
The public can visit this installation at the Grace Abbot School of Social Work, Second Floor at the College of Public Affairs and Community Service, University of Nebraska at Omaha.