Unit 2 Who Makes Art?

We are all encouraged from childhood to express ourselves in a variety of ways to encourage creativity. It is part of our mental well-being. As adults we may be fortunate enough to become professional artists but most of us develop our creativity in our spare time. Professional artists have an innate flair for colour, line, design and shape and look for opportunities to express themselves. To develop a unique style, there must be opportunity for reflection and training. So both an innate ability and skills are required.

Artists’ roles do change with cultural considerations as can be seen very clearly in the earlier exercise on the totem pole, the Giotto crucifix and the Minoan Snake Goddess. Western Art elevates the artist and his/her originality. The work of art is given status in a museum, art gallery or church and material value is placed on it. In non-Western cultures, art such as the totem pole, aboriginal art or other religious artefacts such as Byzantine icons certain rules are applied to the production of the artefact. The craft of creating art according to set rules must be learned and training is given. There appears to be little leeway for the artist to express his or her originality. It is the craftsmanship applying the set rules which appears to be revered.

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Hello Jenny,

There are many movements in Byzantine Iconography and many scales that shaping or make the artist.
The most qualified are chosen to paint for the churches and other also good artists creating only icons.
Imagine a Museum of Modern Art to accept a classical artefact!The same thing happens to a church,because the temple would be shown funny if the artist was unable to follow the rules of Iconography.
Many of those artists creating more things than Byzantine Iconography,so they don’t suffer from not being able to express their skills or feeling depressed.(I know someone who paints like Kadinsky totally abstract and he is also a very good Iconographer for churches,and others with their own style.
In fact they earn millions for that job,and different styles would be completely easy for them.

About the training which is given, you don’t ’ need credits or to attend a university to be a Byzantine Iconographer.
Some of them may be graduates in painting and they have followed this career.
So anyone can attend their studio and simultaneously study and work.
Attending a university would affect negatively someone who wants to create a unique style, because he/she get influenced from others and other movements.
Then it will be difficult to create avant-garde and to easy for the neo- kitsch art.
It is hard to answer Who Makes Art but I found also an interesting perspective of one of Plato’s theories in the course ENGL301 and in page 8:"*Plato argued that an artistic work is always a copy of a copy,hence an artistic work always imitates something real,and all things which are real imitation of a universal concept or idea(what Plato called “the really real”),thus all works of art are copies of copies and not fully true or real…While modern and contemporary literary theories tend not to accept Plato’s notion of Art as being dangerous social force"

This theory is in a literature course but I think that has to do with Art generally.
Regarding what is real there are many arguments like this one of a religious person with someone non-religious.What is the god that the atheist don’t believe in and what is the image of the god of a religious person.
Many people have an image of a god like in William’s Blake painting and others to an unknown and dynamic force.So what is the God that the atheist don’t believe and what is the reality of the Visual Artist that he represents on his painting?Can we all see it in that way he see its or he imitates the reality we all see in a different way?(modernist,metamodernist artist).

I would like also to note that some of the methodologies which historians using in Art,the same terms using critics in English Literature especially formalism,biographical,gender,and psychological criticism.

Who makes art? Do you think artists have innate ability or acquired skill (or both)? How do artist’s roles change with different cultural considerations? Support your answers with examples, and provide any links or images that help in your explanations.

Everyone makes art. It may not be a sculpture or a painting and it may not even be considered beautiful, but everyone makes art. Everyone has an innate desire to create. Even at dinner time, we’re creating something, especially when we take risks and experiment a little. At some restaurants, part of the experience is looking at the food, how it’s presented, what colors are used in the various ingredients and how they’re arranged.

Give a child a pencil and paper and they may scribble furiously or try to draw something, but kids love to draw, paint and create. As a child, my favorite toys were my Legos. I would always build things according to the directions, but after a few days, I would break the Legos down and build something from my own imagination. My kids inherited a tub full of Legos from me and when they were younger, we would sit together and build things without any directions. My kids would build space ships and castles and all they had were Legos and imagination.

A homeowner decorates their house. Some will get professional decorators where the rest of us will do our own decorating. We choose our curtains to match our couch which we purchased to go with our coffee table. Then we arrange pictures on our walls - sometimes paintings or drawings and sometimes photographs. Even when we arrange the work of other people when we decorate our home, there is still a work of creation going on to arrange those items into an aesthetically pleasing living environment.

While there may be limitations due to resources, materials, time and talent, everyone creates in their life and so everyone makes art.

Some artists are better at putting the images from their imagination onto a canvass or paper. Some artists are better at carving the images from their imagination out of rock and clay. Whatever the medium, some artists are just better at creating objects of beauty that are recognized by most as art. Some have an innate skill, but even so, natural born artists still spend years honing their skill to improve their work. Some artists become artists because someone teaches them or because they took the chance to learn. They may have just had to work harder.

Kieron Williamson, Norfolk, UK, child artist


Thats very true and I admire that kind of insights!Most of the times this happening because we the people,animals,environment and someone that created that universe,had this impact which is obvious in most of our artworks.So we have portraits,landscapes,themes with animals,and many religious artworks.

Unit 2 - Who makes art? Do you think artists have innate ability or acquired skill (or both)? How do artist’s roles change with different cultural considerations?

Personally, I think that art is both a form of expression and a source of inspiration. All human beings like to express themselves. Therefore, anyone can make art and be an artist. All artworks are spawned by their creator under some kind of inspiration and can also inspire those viewing or experiencing it.

One example that comes to mind is film. The 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life by Frank Capra is a work of art in which its creator fabulously expresses the beauty of life while inspiring those who view it.

I think that for the most part artists acquire their craft through practice and experimentation. Some artists, especially geniuses, have a higher level of innate ability than others. But even such artists – like Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – require a strong commitment and desire to hone their craft. On the other hand, there is a certain quality or “X-factor” in some people (something I would categorize as other than an innate quality) that really set them apart as artists. Artists like Leonardo da Vinci, painter Johannes Vermeer, and actor Robert De Niro come to mind. Such artists have been able to elevate their respective crafts to great heights.

A great example can be found in Vermeer’s Art of Painting which he kept in his atelier for display of his skill set rather than selling it. This work alone gloriously showcases his craft not only in technique, but also in his wisdom to understand the cultural elements that would appeal to those viewing this particular work and possibly hire him. Vermeer understood his role as an artist in this period of Dutch history. He was competing with other artists and thus adapted his approach as an artist in order to elevate his craft not only for the short term, but also to leave his mark and secure his legacy as a master of the craft.

  • Dan Fournier, 2015-09-26

I am very impressed by your opinion and very pleased with facing the idea that I am considering recently. I want to know that I can talk about this topic more with you if it is not bothering you. Sorry for my poor english.


From Seoul, South Korea.

I must say that your question is a very critical one,as it makes people to think outside the box. The question “who makes art”, is very vast, I believe that every one does from the Time a child is born nursing begins. According to so many people nursing is the oldest form of art and as the child grows the child learns to make sounds, scribble down their innocent thought on papers, and paint their way to elevated joy. I believe that every living begin makes art and is art themselves.

Discussion Topic 3 - The Artistic Process:

  1. Who makes art?
  2. Do you think artists have innate ability or acquired skill (or both)?
  3. How do artist’s roles change with different cultural considerations?
    Support your answers with examples, and provide any links or images that help in your explanations.

1. Who makes art?
To answer this question it is a good idea to define Art. The definition below comes from Dictionary.com, it is not the only definition by any means, it is a limited definition and of course you can go into minute detail but this has the advantage of simplicity:

Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

This is a limited definition in that it does not mention the other muses - music, design etc. But it is good for our purpose in this course as it emphasises the key aspects of art:

  • Art is made by humans
  • Art required skill and imagination
  • Art evokes beauty and/or emotions
    So to answer the question, art is made by humans who use skill and imagination to evoke beauty and/or emotion. However, to do this the human also requires some life experience if they are trying to evoke specific emotions. Here the list can be long.

2. Do you think artists have innate ability or acquired skill (or both)?
As with many aspects of life, some of us have higher levels of innate skill and capability in certain areas than others, e.g. maths, language and or course art. But that does not mean that they do not need any training or skills development and even education in art history and context. This is necessary to enable the artist to ensure that the viewer of the work can “see” the cultural content and what the artist is trying to convey. One can look at the work, but is there anything to see, other than the physical picture, that puts the work into context.

3. How do artist’s roles change with different cultural considerations?
The role of the artist is of course strongly culture dependent. You can think of the way that art has developed over the centuries in the west to see how is has changed as “civilisation” changed and is still changing and also how art differs when embedded in different cultures; the many and varied different approaches in indigenous art are good examples.
In addition to the cultural setting, art has been controlled by authorities in some cultures for example (among others):

Catholicism: see Catholic Art:

Islam: Quote from “Heilbrunn, Timeline of Art History” -
With its geographic spread and long history, Islamic art was inevitably subject to a wide range of regional and even national styles and influences as well as changes within the various periods of its development. It is all the more remarkable then that, even under these circumstances, Islamic art has always retained its intrinsic quality and unique identity. Just as the religion of Islam embodies a way of life and serves as a cohesive force among ethnically and culturally diverse peoples, the art produced by and for Muslim societies has basic identifying and unifying characteristics. Perhaps the most salient of these is the predilection for all-over surface decoration. The four basic components of Islamic ornament are:
vegetal patterns,
geometric patterns, and
figural representation.

Soviet Union: From Wikipedia: Officially approved art was required to follow the doctrine of Socialist Realism. In the spring of 1932, the Central Committee of the Communist Party decreed that all existing literary and artistic groups and organizations should be disbanded and replaced with unified associations of creative professions. Accordingly, the Moscow and Leningrad Union of Artists was established on August 1932, which brought the history of post-revolutionary art to a close. The epoch of Soviet art began.

China: A good example is what happened to the dissident artist Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei - The Law of the Journey (Prague National Museum)
A comment on the inhumane treatment of refugees by the Australian Government.

In some of these cultural settings the artist had to adapt their art to the imposed cultural norms or face expulsion, or worse.