A mindset has become popular in the artistic community that art doesn’t need to have structure or any need to communicate. I often hear that it’s all about what we feel at a certain moment, that we should just move in freedom without needing to stick to any particular subject, idea, or concept. I believe that communicating with art is much more than this. Art has to communicate passion and be engaging. If art doesn’t communicate, what is its purpose? Quoting the One who inspires my life and is the artist for excellence: “if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?” Guess who I’m talking about?
Let’s look at the importance of communication in art and see some practical tips on how to become a real artist.
The meaning of communication applied to art
The meaning of communication is to exchange information, so we can easily understand that communicating with art is simply passing information through an art form. Now, I hope we can all agree that creating any work of art that doesn’t communicate something is useless since it’s meaningless. This means that if we create art that doesn’t communicate we are creating dead things that are not alive since they are static and without emotions.
Let’s think of all the famous pieces of art, such as songs, paintings, the works of famous dancers, and so on. All of these have something in common — they communicated and evoked feelings in their audience. This is why we remember them.
Why communicate with art?
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, art communicates by evoking feelings in us that lead us to think about a topic or to meditate on a sensitive subject. This is why when a country is suddenly ruled by a dictatorship, one of the first things that is eliminated through censorship is art.
Why should people be so afraid of artists? Because communicating with art is very effective; art can reach the inner feelings that normal communication wouldn’t be able to reach. Something communicated in a direct way, such as telling a person any kind of message, will certainly reach the listener, but it can easily be forgotten. On the contrary, a message communicated in an artistic way is not as direct since the message is veiled with beauty and needs to be discovered to be fully received. However, once it’s unveiled, it is more likely to remain in the hearts and minds of the audience.
Who is an artist?
So, who is an artist and what makes them one?
I define artists as someone who communicates with art and shares a message and feelings through their artistic discipline/expression.
What makes you an artist:
- being able to communicate a message through an artistic discipline
- being able to evoke emotions through an artistic discipline/disciplines
- understand and master your discipline/disciplines
- being able to capture a concept and an emotion, and then reproduce it through an art form
What doesn’t make you an artist:
- Having a diploma (although studying is necessary in order to understand and master a discipline)
- Reproducing forms of art without understanding them
- Not being able to share or communicate thoughts with feelings
I’m not saying we should all be like Mozart or Michelangelo, but if we identify ourselves as artists, we need to understand the principles behind communicating through an art form and how best to do so.
Becoming an artist
Learning to be an artist is not something we can learn at school. At school, we learn our skills and techniques, the history, and all the tools to become artists, but we cannot learn how to communicate passion and life in our artwork.
I remember when I finished music school and was starting to do my first gigs. I thought I was the best since I had studied a lot, but I soon realized (by getting insulted and put down by other frustrated musicians) that my path as an artist was just starting. I had a long way to go before I was able to handle the stage and communicate with my audience in an effective way.
At first, my experience with receiving criticism hurt me a lot, but when I overcame it, I realized why I was getting criticized. In a submissive way, I became teachable and learned how to be professional. I learned that if I was not evoking feelings in my executions, it didn’t matter how technical they were, they were not art.
Communicating with art is mastering a language and being able to use it. If we want to be a professional artist we must understand that this has to be a necessary component in our work. Learning how to master a language takes time, but most of all, it takes time to find our artistic identity. Identity is like a signature on our works that differentiates us from all the others.
Communicating with art – becoming an artist
Putting these tips into practice helps us gain familiarity with communicating through art and learn how to share a message through our executions.
- Understand what we want to communicate – What emotions do we want to evoke in our audience? If we don’t know what we want to communicate, how can we communicate it?
- Practice by choosing a topic and trying to immerse yourself in it – Spend time away from your work and then come back to your execution.
- If you are a musician or a dancer, record yourself – This gives us immediate feedback on how the execution went. You can even do it with your phone.
- Study the greats – We can’t master an art form without some kind of influence or inspiration. Spending time to learn a vocabulary will enrich our language.
- Don’t copy – It’s good to find inspiration, but we need to find the principles behind the executions of the greats, and then try to apply them to ours in an original way. (Example, we can see how someone uses a technique and then apply it in our context in an original way.)
- Find your style and your artistic identity – Learn what fits more with your artistic character, but don’t limit it only to one style.
- Use technique as a tool – Technique is always the method, not the goal. If we rely on technique our execution becomes cold and meaningless.
- Fellowship with another artist – An artistic environment will always help us to unlock our creativity.
- Be open to criticism – I know it hurts, but we must receive criticism in a constructive way, taking what is good and dropping the rest.
- Don’t give up – Great artists have this in common: commitment and perseverance. It does not matter at what level we start.
The journey of the artist is a long, steep route. There is no method to become a great artist and being great at communicating with art. Passion leads to perseverance and those who persevere will reach their goals.
I hope you liked this article. Feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below.
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