Art: What Is It?

By Persistence. Art by Fatecrashers.
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Art has been something that has existed since the dawn of civilisation, yet we cannot define exactly what art is. Art transcends the bounds of physical existence, and means something different to each different person that one might ask. I have asked many notable artists two questions:

  1. How do you define art?
  2. What does art mean to you [personally]?

The answers have been varied and engaging, and you are encouraged to send in your own answers to the above questions to me, Persistence, and they could be featured in the next issue!

Originally Posted by Fat Kevin Garrett
It's a way of moving the senses by an arrangement of something, whether that be sound, picture, taste—cooking is an art.

Originally Posted by Fat Cartoons!
Art is the attempt to capture beauty imperfectly. It's the imitation of nature's perfect geometry, you get stuff in art like proportion, balance...nature's colours, confined to a small area.

Obviously other arts capture other essences of beauty, but I also see it as a very practical thing, being an animator. You're trying to convey a specific mood or feeling, so your success depends on how well you do that. You could have a beautiful piece, but still miss your objective of trying to make your audience laugh, or think about something specifically or understand an emotion. I like the idea of art as beauty with purpose, though some would disagree and just say art for art's sake.

Originally Posted by Fat Kinneas
To me art is doing or making something with absolutely no purpose other than to evoke emotion from people.

I draw to make people smile.

Originally Posted by Fat DougJustDoug
Usually, when I use the term "art", I am referring to aesthetic art—not music or writing, etc. But those creative outputs are certainly art in terms of being a "creative product of imagination". So, I think the definition I gave is a decent summary for me. "a creative product of imagination". I also tend to define the quality of art in term of how it makes the viewer feel.

Art has been a big part of my life—when I was growing up I wanted to be a comic book artist. Art is deeply entwined with my ability to express my imagination, which is important to me, But usually, I tend to feel best about my art when I feel like I have properly represented what is "in my head". I tend to strive for "illustrative perfection"; it's a never ending quest, but that's one reason why I love working on it.

Originally Posted by Fat *Hen*
I think that everything can be considered art. It really just depends on your perspective. Things that happen in your life and things that shape you change your view of how things are. Because of this, one single picture or phrase can hit a lot of people close to heart and to other seems to be absolute jibberish.

My opinion on art being truly well made and worth it's space in existence often depends on it making the 'consumer' feel something. Doesn't have to be a pleasant something. But being able to evoke a feeling out of those experiencing the art is truly a talent and is what all artists should strive for.

Originally Posted by Fat Wyverii
Art is producing something that can be considered beautiful or thought provoking to the viewer and can come in many forms.

As for what it means to me, it's an enjoyable form of entertainment.

Originally Posted by Fat Orugos
Art is creation. Anything you make and have some freedom to make, this can be anything, such as composition, color choices, mediums, or total freedom, is art. This can be traditional arts such as drawing, painting, sculpting, pottery, photography, or designs, or architecture, to name a few. Art can be commercial or personal.

What it means to me? I DUNNO IT'S MY LIFE and stuff, poetic, I know. :p

Originally Posted by Fat Bucky
Art is probably one of the most difficult words to truly define. In my opinion, art is a means of expressing yourself and the expression produced. I think anything can be art, speaking, storytelling, writing, poetry, dancing, knitting—anything. However, creating good art is more difficult to achieve than creating art itself. And the definition of good art is even more obscure.

To me, art means a heck of a whole lot. I something I've dedicated and will continue to dedicate a large portion of my life to. Art is pretty much intertwined with my future goals and personal satisfaction. I really strive for perfection whenever I draw something, and it frustrates me to look back on previous works. But I love to see myself get better and better, and one day I'll be one of the best!

Originally Posted by Fat Fatecrashers
'Art' is something that can encompass all mediums; there is always an idea behind it, no matter how small or insignificant you may think that idea is. Once the artist displays his art to the world he transfers the role of the creator to the audience, as it it they and their subjective views that now determine the status of the artowork. Good art moves us, whether through aesthetics or through its underlying ideas. Art is a demonstration of the superiority of the human mind, it has always been and alway shall be.

For me, my drawings represent an outlet; it's a way to relax, have fun and a way to get my thoughts and ideas out. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to express myself visually, and to exhibit my creativity in an effective way. I may not be the best out there but I have reached a level where I am happy and satisfied with my output, and that's what's most important to me.

Originally Posted by Fat SoIheardyoulikeSENTRET
Art is anything created by someone or something that makes you feel a certain way or stirs some emotion or reaction inside of you. A sink, though not created by an artist, can be considered art if it was presented as an art piece. The simple act of hanging it in an art museum or declaring it art, makes it so. The artist did not create the toilet, but they challenged you to think about it from an artistic perspective.

The sight of the sink hanging in a museum may very well enrage you. It could make you think, "I could have thought of that and made a million bucks!", but the thing is, you didn't. By enraging you it has accomplished its job. It made you feel differently than before you had seen it. The inventor of the sink is also an artist. He had a vision to create something that would revolutionize plumbing. He executed his plan, thus creating the sink. People used it and saw it, and it made them feel something. The person who created the very sink that is hanging on the wall is not an artist unless he was building it with art in mind, but more than likely, he was thinking about how many more hours he had till quitting time.

Overall, the sink on the wall is still art no matter how little you or I care for it.

For me, art is a form of growth. Through art, I translate thoughts, feelings, and moods into a visual form. I express pent up ideas through art and I turn them into something I can analyze and remember. I can look at a picture I drew and remember my feelings at the time. Some of my pictures I look at and hate, because I had nothing on my mind when I was creating them. I wasn't trying to create something new or express something. I didn't personalize it and put any piece of myself into the work. They seem bland and worthless. Some of my favorite pictures, people seem to see little worth in. This doesn't bother me in the slightest because I can still remember the way I felt when I created it and it has now become a part of me. It helped me externalize my feelings. For me, the creating of a piece of work is more important than the finished product, because the creation phase is when I am putting myself into my art.

Art is a huge part of my life and means a lot to me. Almost everything I do for myself centers around it. From the music I listen to, to the games I play, I enjoy every aspect of the creativity that was involved in its generation.

Originally Posted by Fat ChouToshio
Defining art is very difficult because everyone seems to want to include his own piece in the puzzle. One could say it requires a creative process, but even this is not necessarily true. Ballet dancers and orchestra musicians claim to the title of artist and very few would deny them such a position. However in these cases, one could easily argue that the vast part of the creative process comes from the composer, director or writer. In competition, it is often those who perform most stringently to the book (executing the least creativity) who are actually deemed superior.

This is only the beginning of this can of worms. What about martial artists? Also, if a master of judo is in some way an artist, why not a wrestler, football player, or swimmer? How about Go players, chess players? Where do you draw the line? For that matter, why is golf a sport and not a game?

If the doer says it is art, it is art. This is quite true. However, that does not define art or really get at what it is about. I think the best way to answer this is actually with question two, because like the opinions about art, defining art can be just as subjective.

To give some brief stab at the actual question, I would say that art is born from some form or combination of Technique and Creativity. In the case of a ballet dancer or a craftsmen, the art is born from perfectly executing, thus grasping the soul of the technique that has been refined and perfected by tradition. For the judo practitioner, a combination of refined technique and discipline born from tradition, combined with creativity, tenacity and ferocity born from the individual come together in battle above the tatami. For illustrators and graphic artists too, some combination of technique, learned or discovered, and individual creativity come together to form the art.

When I entered my senior year of high school and enrolled in AP Art class, I immediately talked with instructor and said, "Pete, I am not going for any bullshit 'hidden meaning' pieces. My art this year will be pretty." After three years of teachers constantly pressing to "push farther" and "dig deeper" to envelop some ambiguous "hidden meaning" in the art, I had absolutely had it. Bullshit—fools' is just makin' shit up. Fools' is jus' on drugs cuz dey don' have anythin' real to angst about. Seriously.

As a nature lover, I have always been dedicated to landscape painting, and nature-related art in general. It was the beautiful animations and landscape illustrations of Pokémon Movie 5: Guardians of the Water City, Latias and Latios that got me back into Pokémon (and eventually lead me to Smogon). The idea of going on an adventure, exploring nature and hiking through the mountains looking for wild animals—it's really thrilling!

Just the other week I went on a trip to Hakkai Mountain in Niigata Prefecture (Japan, where I am living these days) to look for a rare type of stone prized by bonsai gardeners, the rare Hakkai-Seki. Since the Japanese just assume I am Japanese, I can pretty much go wherever without much hassle. As for Hakkai-Seki, its dark color, smooth yet dimpled texture, and unique shape make this stone prized by all sorts of gardeners. I even lifted and carried an 80 lbs specimen through a 1 mile hike and up a ten food ledge to get it back to my car! Truth be told, my favorite art form right now is not graphic art nor computer illustration—it's planted aquarium designing. Give me an empty tank, a bunch of plants, rocks, wood, and soil, and I'll be a lot happier than sitting with my tablet in front of a computer screen for hours on end.

Of course I still love illustration, especially drawing nature scenes, and am into oil painting and landscape photography as well. While I do draw cartoony stuff, especially for The Smog, I'm probably best (and most fond of) drawing Pokémon in nature—much like how Latios and Latias are portrayed in the movie. I guess I also have something of a Japan fetish. I will spend many an evening with a cold bottle of sake, gazing into my planted aquarium and playing "Secret Garden" (the song where Ash plays with Latias and Latios in their hidden forest) softly.

I will apologize for going on this tl;dr rant—I guess I am trying to show what is difficult to tell. Art is mainly used for expression, and hopefully we as artists, can express things that resonate with the viewer. For me, I love nature and as much as possible want to make art that expresses that appreciation. I'm going to end on a preechy-tree-hugger note and end by saying, it's actually a good thing for people to be selfish—but people have to figure out that the only way to really help themselves comes from helping others. If you screw nature, you're only screwing yourself. I want people who see my work to appreciate the important things we have.

Originally Posted by Fat Yilx
There are so many ways to answer this, but if it's from me... I'd say this; it's the way one expresses or conveys his thoughts and/or emotions into a physical form.

Art means my life to me. I personally look at it as simply drawing. I feel like I live to draw, to be honest... I love drawing.

Originally Posted by Fat Nastyjungle
Art is any expression of a thought or idea through any given creative media.

Art is expression of somebody's thoughts, be they deep and personal or what is on somebody's mind at the time, and striving to make the viewer of your art feel the same way and think the same way as you were when feeling it. At least, that's what I try to do.

Originally Posted by Fat Shinxe
I don't see a point to defining art. Art critics like doing that better. They're also full of shit. I find artists aren't usually the ones who care about the definition of the very thing they've dedicated their lives to.

It means a way to bring nonexistent creatures and environments to some kind of life or to bring concepts to clarity. I'm not in it for the 'self-expression' in a fine arts sense. I want art to be accessible and enjoyable and, when the viewer wants it to be, thought-provoking. Not self-absorbed BS.

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