Person : “Ah I see your picture is a dragon. Why?”
Artist: “Um…because I like dragons.”
Person: “So what does it say about your love of dragons? Or what does it say about dragons in general?”
Artist: “Nothing really. I just wanted to draw a dragon.”
Person: “I notice your dragon is breathing fire. You conveyed the sense of rage and emotion very well through the color choice and composition of the flames. Were you feeling likewise when you painted that?”
Artist: “No…dragons breathe fire. So I made it breathe fire.”
Person: “I see the knight at the bottom of the hill representing the struggle of humanity against impossible odds.”
Artist: “Okay seriously, you’re just fucking with me now aren’t you?”
Alright, so that conversation was mostly invented, but it’s a pretty good example of a very real type of person in the art world that galls me. These people who seem to believe that everything is a symbol, everything has purpose, everything is more than what it is, and says something deep and meaningful about the creator’s emotional state or the world in general. Here’s the thing, art is always saying something, but that something doesn’t necessarily need to be deep, or complicated, sometimes it really is just what it is.
It’s this type of pseudo-intellectual crowd who fall all over New Age art hacks whose artwork is little more than paint smeared on a canvas or a lump of formless rock, devoid of any mastery of craft, aesthetic sensibility, or discernible subject matter, because they read secret meaning into everything they see. The twistyness of the rock says a lot about the chaos of the world and how we all must keep our eyes focused to choose the right path. Or it could be the artist was really fond of pretzels.
I suppose art is there to be reacted to, and if someone takes away a different message from your picture than what you originally created it to say, there’s nothing one can really do about it, but that doesn’t stop it from bugging the shit out of me.
Whenever I do get asked what the deep underlying meaning of my pictures is (and I have been asked that since I had an art teacher once who had a mad on for this kind of sanguine, feel good, vomit inducing soul searching stuff) I always have to make something up because the truth is that there isn’t a deeper meaning. The characters or monsters look like they do and do the things they do because I told them to. That’s not to say there couldn’t be a cool story behind what’s happening or a universe to be delved into at some point, but what’s on the paper is exactly what it is, no commentary on the soul, no subtle glimpse into my views of the world, no hidden symbolism. You want to know why the dragon is breathing fire? I’ll let the scientist explain.
Because it’s fucking awesome. That’s really all there is.
Addendum: Comic courtesy of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.