Art has intrinsic value: No such thing as bad art

Photo courtesy of Tuna Ergan, Student Publications

Art, in all forms and at all skill levels, is a good thing. Expression in many forms is a human instinct, and it does not take museum level talent for art to be worth the time or resources it takes to create.

Both with respect to its creator and its audience, amateur art has at least as much value as art that may be more widely considered “good.”

Everyone does art all the time. Most of it is almost idle. Doodling in the margins of class notes is simple visual art.

We become actors for a brief moment when we put on a false voice in a conversation or recreate a situation while telling a story.

Stacking rocks on a hike or making a little sandcastle at the beach are both basic sculptures. Offhand comments are basic comedy, decorating a room is a form of design and so many of the little actions we take to improve our lives are forms of art.

Expression is natural and healthy as well, so the simple act of expressing oneself in an even tangentially artistic way can be beneficial.

Art is about expression, and while more technical skill can lead to clearer expression, amateur art’s audience can simply be the creator.

Creating art is almost therapeutic by nature. Coloring books are a popular relaxation method and journaling is a common coping method.

Working with one’s hands is a good form of stress relief too, and many find that whittling, working with clay or even folding origami can be a good way to relax or pass the time.

Outside of instinctual art or habitual creation, though, many people are tentative to try different forms of art for fear that it isn’t “good enough.” What makes art good enough?

It is definitely nice to be able to benefit financially from work, whether that work is writing or painting or singing or any other form. However, the human instinct to create comes not from a need to make a few extra dollars — or a living — but rather from a desire to enjoy the world a little more. Just because art is not immediately deemed monetarily valuable does not make it less good.

The need to make money to survive has driven people away from picking up hobbies that are less “productive.”

If people are not immediately or already skilled at an activity, it can get pushed aside. While it does feel nice to do things one is skilled at, the process of developing skill is rewarding.

In a society that diminishes skills that don’t create value for shareholders, the drive to create art for oneself is devalued.

People who have their basic needs met are more able to create or to learn new skills for their personal enjoyment.

Amateur art has its own value to its creators, but that value gets missed when focusing on outside impact.

In order to encourage people to create, the focus needs to shift to the enjoyment of creating art and the appreciation of amateur creations.