Make Art that Matters

The book, Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland, is one of my favorites because of its down-to-earth observations about the day-in, day-out life of an artist without any hype. This week, I was glancing through Ted Orland’s book The View From the Studio Door and this quote stopped me in my tracks. It also made me realize why sometimes creating is so hard: it’s because I’m trying to make art that matters and that isn’t always easy or maybe ever easy. I hope Orland’s words help you as much as they helped me:

"When all is said and done, the challenges and uncertainties we face as artists might all come down to this one question: How do we learn to make art that matters? … To make art is to follow the vein of silver that forms where your concerns touch the concerns of the world. Only when you align your life with larger worlds is there even the chance that your work will matter. Art that stands the test of time has always focused on the world’s classical concerns: life, death, love, loss, faith, judgment. Simply put, it takes measure of the human condition. What is good? What is true? What does your art tell us about the way things really are? Or the way they should be?"

What does it mean to you to "create art that matters"? What is the "good" and the "true" that you seek? Or is making art about something completely different for you? What are you telling us about the way the world really is?

From The View From the Studio Door: How Artists Find Their Way in an Uncertain World by Ted Orland, Image Continuum Press, 2012.

Portrait of the artist’s wife with a hat, by August Macke, 1909, Westphalian State Museum of Art and Cultural History.