What is Fine Art?

What is fine artwork? We at StoriesToArt wrestle with how to answer this daily.  Artists from across the country apply to exhibit with us and, as a curated gallery of fine art, we review their submissions and have the arduous task of deciding whether to represent them or not.  When we choose not to represent an artist, we frequently get asked for feedback as to why not.  Our answers vary depending on the artwork that was submitted but typically we encourage applicants that we reject to hone their skills and focus more on imaginative or thought provoking content.  We use a rubric to score artists’ submissions that includes the following:

  • for 2-d and 3-d Visual Art, we consider technical skill, creativity, voice, design fundamentals (as applicable to various media), and story conversion.
  • whereas Poetry is judged on the structure, word/language usage, and story conversion.
  • Songs are judged on the musician’s adaptation of the story in the song, creativity, musicality of the recorded song, overall pitch and timing, and quality of the recording.
It gets a little muddy though. Highly accomplished artists frequently abandon the rules of composition and develop a personal style that, though incredibly creative, may not exemplify great technical skill to actually execute the work. In this case, we concede to the idea that one aspect pulled off exceptionally well can compensate for another aspect not being as prevalent in a piece. (It’s interesting to note that creativity may even become exceptional because of the fact that composition is abandoned.)

Of course, we can’t avoid the fact that what we find to be creative, you may not and vice versa. So how can we make a judgement on this? For our purposes as an online gallery that holds to a standard of excellence but also seeks to appeal to a large group of people, we try to stay aware of the subjective creative preferences of the greater art community and ensure that ours align with that whenever possible. There are times when our preferences may conflict with the greater art community, but it is through these discrepancies that new trends and preferences are born. We may show a piece that we love even though we aren’t sure the greater art community will because of the state of current trends or for some other reason. Maybe it garners popularity regardless and maybe it doesn’t.  If it does, we count ourselves as lucky for establishing a new trend.

So what is fine artwork?  We think it’s artwork that resonates with you for a truly compelling reason.  Perhaps it’s the objective qualities of a piece that wow you in their totality, or maybe it’s one element that knocks your socks off, or maybe it’s because it’s all the rage.

Webster defines fine art as “creative art, especially visual art whose products are to be appreciated primarily or solely for their imaginative, aesthetic, or intellectual content” and includes “the convergence of popular culture and fine art” as an add on. As a secondary definition, it defines fine art as “an activity requiring great skill or accomplishment.

Our best advice to you when seeking fine art?  Rely on your own instincts!  You’ll know what is fine art when you experience it and if you’re really lucky, it will knock your socks off.

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