LISA MALTBY
LONDON BASED ILLUSTRATOR & LETTERING ARTIST

blog

Welcome to my blog where I post about all things creative, from my latest food illustrations, design work and hand lettering doodles, to articles about freelancing and creativity. I hope you like my posts.

What is Art anyway?

Anyone can create Art, right? Everyone has, at one stage or another, created a visual expression of something, whether that was in primary school or last week. You may not have thought it was very good, but does that actually make it bad Art?

The problem is that I hear this phrase a lot: “Oh, I’m no good at drawing”, like there is some standard of drawing perfection that we’re all trying to reach; as though we’re all just striving to make things look as ‘real’ or as 'lifelike’ as possible. Maybe that’s your aim, and maybe you’re very good at doing just that. But is that what good Art is?

Then there’s the other extreme of walking round a famous gallery and seeing a brick in the middle of the floor and before you go and move it you realise the yellow tape around it and the sign that tells you that this is indeed a work of Art. It represents something to the artist, but very few get the meaning. Does that make it more or less valid as a piece of Art than your attempt at drawing a flower? 

You see, for centuries there has always been the debate about what makes good art. Art is 'taught’ in schools, but is it really Art they are teaching? Or techniques of how to paint with acrylics? Or famous art movements from history? At the end of the day, I don’t think Art can be taught any more than you can be taught to write a novel. You can acquire  techniques to make your grammar better or increase your vocabulary, but no one can place a story in you. And no one can express something visually like you can. 

If I’m entirely honest, I’d rather see a technically flawed drawing that tells me something about something than a Fine Art painting that is copied directly from a photograph. I would even argue that simply copying something is not Art. I spent years thinking that my work needed to be more 'lifelike’ in order to be good instead of expressing what I really wanted to. The best Art shows me more than just an image, it make me feel something too. It has purpose. It makes me think

So go create whatever you want to but please promise me you have something to say through your work and you are not merely copying what everyone else is doing or what you simply think is in fashion. Trends fade but your story won’t – there’s no harm in being inspired by other people but Art needs to express something of you. You are unique and so should your Art be too.