I will say this in regards to the artists renowned from the past. Their greatness lies not in their work, but in their ability to create work that was not seen before. Their work is their fingerprint. You can identify the artist by their styles much less than the content of their work, those who's content defines them, usually have derivative styles from other artists. This is what I have respect for and this is what I benefit from these artists. If there is any inspiration from them, it is not to emulate their style of art, or content or subject matter. It is to speak through my art in such a way that my voice is as recognizable and distinct as theirs is from one another.
This is the affinity I share with these artists. That we each have our own style, our own voices and movements. Those who want to be, those who aspire to be, those who dream to be, will always keep looking in from the outside, in a perpetual debate with and among themselves. How can they understand if they have no voices of their own? Merely parroting what they have been sold to believe. Their minds and visions dulled, their creative processors institutionalized and "proprietized".
This is why there is nothing produced today on the level of those before in the arts. Today, everyone wants recognition and money, and the only way to acquire this, in this culturally bankrupt society, is by pandering. It is by appealing and appeasing your audience, those patrons or gallery owners. This is where most people fall into today. They regurgitate what they are sold to believe are the standards of art. The artist is stuck in a perpetual viscous cycle, like a circus performer for his masters.
Not many artists today offer what the artists from the past had to offer. New ideas, new theories, revivals, renaissances, nothing. It is merely pandering, appeasing a politically correct perspective. I have not met an artist who aspires to achieve the level of greatness of those that came before. They do not aspire to become legendary artists, this does not pay. Van Gogh only sold one painting in his life, cut his ear of for whatever reason may be disputed, was ignored and yet today, he is heralded as one of the greats artists to date.
No one aspires for greatness out of fear of poverty, or being socially ostracized. Artists today, many of who prompt themselves out in public have no systems of beliefs which become the basis and backbone of their artistic endeavors, as was written in David Bayles and Ted Orlands book, Art & Fear:
"Other people, in other times and places, had some robust institutions to shore them up: witness the Church, the clan, ritual, tradition. It's easy to imagine that artists doubted their calling less when working in the service of God than when working in the service of self.
Not so today. Today almost no one feels shored up. Today artwork does not emerge from a secure common ground: the bison on the wall is someone else's magic. Making art now means working in the face of uncertainty; it means living with doubt and contradiction, doing something no one much cares whether you do, and for which there may be neither audience nor reward."
This seems to me, as an artist, to be the case today. Where it is much safer to stay stuck in a past, riding the coattails of another artists success.
This topic seems to be a very controversial one, since most people are stuck in a specific mind set (mainly the "how to", technique based, realism trends, or the Modern Art and contemporary art trends). I believe that every artist can produce art that is unique and one of a kind, like the fingerprint on their hand, or like a flake of snow, with a design that is unlike another. The question is, how does one begin to create art in this manner?
Returning to the quote in Art & Fear, artists need to shore themselves up, find beliefs and establish their foundations in order to begin creating. This is in spite of popular opinion, in spite of seeking others to latch onto like idols in the world of art. Famous or not.
We must look back at working in the service of The Creator of all that exists, as the prime source of the creative energy, and reevaluate what we are striving for as artists, and what it is we are trying to say.
Until we begin to return back to the One Who created all that exists, our art will remain as plagiarism of what surrounds us, ultimately trying to speak using The Creators voice, but it never works from human hands, from the artists hands, which is part of His creation.
This is why I advocate a renaissance of Islamic Art in today. It is the only form of art that is known as a pathway to God, since all the art is based solely around the Islamic concept of monotheism. But a Muslim artist must be distinguished from an Islamic artist. A Muslim artist is merely a person who is Muslim and creates art with no restrictions, be it illustration, paintings of nature, people or animals, in whatever style. These works negate what Islamic art is. On the other hand, the Islamic artist, must be Muslim in order to create Islamic art.
The known traditional art of Islam is calligraphy, geometric mathematical design and floral motifs, but it is not limited to these standards. It is my belief then, that for the non-Muslim, to achieve a level of uniqueness in their art similar to that of the Islamic artist is to apply the principle foundations of Islamic injunctions and knowledge with elaborated theory, which I will write in another post, in order to create unique art. This is not Islamic art, but it is Islamically inspired art.
Islamic art is exclusively a Muslim artistic movement. Because it is only a Muslim that adheres to Islam. Islamic art cannot be created by non-Muslims, but non-Muslims can create art on the same level following certain guidelines and regulations. If you want to become an Islamic artist, it follows that you must become Muslim, in order to reap the full benefit of creating art and living life in this manner.