Blog: art musings

Why messy is good

There is no shortage these days of illustrations and designs that are clean, smooth, and flat. Vector drawings are popular because people like this look. It works well on websites and in apps. I can't deny that it looks very nice, and it's what I've come to expect in app and web design.

That said, I don't do that. At least, I don't do it often. I like to make things a little more messy. One reason for this is that I'm not very skilled in vector drawing. The main reason, however, is that I want to make it look like an actual person made it. I don't want it to look like it could have been made by a machine. I like any art with a discernible human touch.

In college, in drawing class, it seemed that everyone, including the professor, was obsessed with clean edges. The edge of the drawing had to be taped so that it was straight, and there couldn't be anything in the margins. Besides the fact that I didn't want to deal with the annoyance of measuring and taping and wanted to just draw something, I like fuzzy edg…


Selling Out

So I was reading a post by Austin Kleon about a post by Robin Sloan about a bio of George Saunders by Joel Lovell (whew). The quote I took away from it was this:

...all my disagreements about art these days tend to come down to whether the people I’m talking to believe that “real” art is only something that you make for yourself without any considerations of how it will go over with an audience.

I can't entirely disagree with this, but I started to think about how I normally go about it. Yes, I do actually make art mainly thinking about whether I like it or not, because if I don't, I'd feel silly making it. I could not make a piece that I hate just because someone else liked it. I'd feel ashamed and the very act of making it would be painful. It doesn't have a lot to do with whether I feel I'm selling out. I don't care about "keeping it real" or being myself despite what others feel about me. I just... can't make stuff I don't like. This doesn't mean that I don't take what other people like into consi…


Addition and Subtraction

You always have a tendency to add. But one must be able to subtract too. It's not enough to integrate, you must also disintegrate. That's the way life is. That's philosophy. That's science. That's progress, civilization."

  • Eugène Ionesco, The Lesson


Recently, I’ve seen quite a few things online having to do with colors (or colours for my non-American friends). First, there was the incredible WNYC’s Radiolab show on colors, which you can listen to for free:


It goes over several things related to colors and science, including the history of how we figured out what the rainbow is, how we get pigments (and one interesting one in particular), and how we have seen and described colors throughout history (and why there’s no blue in the Iliad or Odyssey).

There was a follow-up to that show on the blog, also, about seeing the colors in our world better:

Color Walking

Then, of course, there was the two part blog post series on the blog Empirical Zeal called “The crayola-fication of the world: How we gave colors names, and it messed with our brains,” which mentions the Radiolab show, and builds on certain parts of it, especially the last part. How we see and describe colors is an incredibly complex thing, and different cultures have done it in differen…


Asking the right questions about art

While having yet another online conversation about art and what it is, I was recently struck by an amazing revelation. My view of art, what it is, and how to look at it has changed, I think, and although this view may be unorthodox or even heretical to some, it makes the most sense of anything I’ve heard or read about art to this point in my life. Here it is: It doesn’t matter what art is. “What is art?” is an irrelevant question.

After four years in college being constantly tackled with this question, I think I’m finally through with it. It doesn’t matter. There are three reasons for this: One, because it seems like these days anything anyone wants to call art can be; Two, because it just seems like a label that the elites put on something in order to tell us that we should care about it; and three, it seems like a way for some people to dismiss things they don’t like by saying something isn’t art. Two and three art quite related.

To boil the whole problem down, though, it’s that we’re asking the wrong qu…