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Friday, February 19, 2010


We all have our personal tastes, but the fact is, taste doesn't determine quality.  To me, when an artist makes art, they make a world.  That world may not appeal to me, but that in itself shouldn't affect how I appreciate that world critically.  In order to really appreciate art you need to be willing to confront it, work with it, and explore it, using your own mind.  Your mind is the connection between you and the art.

When I look at art, I try to look at it on its own terms.  Comparing only gets you so far, and oftentimes not very far at all.  I try to understand the artist's intentions--  what they were trying to do-- and whether that attempt was successful or not (which is a subjective thing, as I'd say it's impossible to objectively define success).  Even if it was "unsuccessful" in this way, a work can still be interesting, since art isn't necessarily about winning.

So when I look at art, I look at this world the artist has created.  What I'm looking for is a kind of integrity--  do these pieces fit?  Has the artist conveyed a sense of totality, where the art, whatever its form, feels complete, as it is, on its own terms?  Is it whole?  (Even art about fractured bits can be whole in this way.)

To me, that's what ultimately determines what I call quality.  It's hard, because we're all humans, wired with our own personal tastes and inclinations, but if we too often stumble over our own taste, we can miss out on a lot that the world has to offer.


  1. Thanks John. It's easy to get mired down in this way of thinking about the culture we consume. Nice reminder for me to look at integrity over fashion.

  2. It's refreshing to see a true artist in the realm of comic book art (I'm referring to you, John :) ). I definitely agree with your view John. In creating my own work, I've definitely noticed a level of elitism in the world of illustration...which I guess may be appropriate because it centers around the consumable. Some artists may be better at a technical aspect than others, but that doesn't elevate them above those others. Artists and viewers of art should try to keep an open mind, and learn to appreciate the varying styles and visuals out there. And this includes comic/sequential art.

  3. Quality is only definable in like terms. You went for "integrity," which is as good as any of them. The finer you try to slice it, the more you find interchangable descriptors rather than components: goodness, fittedness, rightness, soundness, and so on. Quality is a holistic phenomenon, rather than an aggregate phenomenon, and as such has no discrete parts. Quality is what you get when the components come together in the right way, but none of the components are good in themselves. This is why you can get good art out of fractured bits, as you note, and why a polished technique doesn't always produce a successful result.

  4. "what's good for the froo, is good for the frah"

    p porter


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