My Biggest Problem with Abstract Art

My biggest problem with abstract art is actually not confined TO abstract art or art in general. In fact, it affects many other creative mediums including videography, writing, and audio.

And this issue has only gotten worse over time. And will probably worsen.

So what is it?

It’s a low barrier to entry. More namely, a lack of effort.

Allow me to explain.

First off, a simple definition:

Barriers to entry is the economic term describing the existence of high startup costs or other obstacles that prevent new competitors from easily entering an industry or area of business. (source: Investopedia.com)

I first noticed this problem a few years ago when I was writing.

When Amazon started allowing self-published books, there was this sort “revolution” in people’s minds toward publishing.

People were cheering and there was this idea of “yeah, gonna start posting all of my ideas and bypassing traditional methods of finding an agent and publisher and I’m gonna make tons of money and finally become a famous writer.”

It sounded great. In theory.

As many things do.

And some of these self-pub writers WERE good. Their work was read worthy.

But the cream of the crop always rises.

Many, many others started pumping out books left and right and you could see that much of their work of considerably low quality…

Massive amounts of typos. Terrible formatting. No sense of overall direction in the book.

Maybe you’ve witnessed this yourself. (Maybe I’m the only one.)

I’m not saying these writers were BAD PEOPLE; simply that they were rushing things and taking shortcuts simply because the barrier to entry had been lowered.

This idea you could write a book and put it online in a matter of hours meant (to them) you no longer needed an agent or a publisher or an editor.

And the results of not having any of these things clearly shows in much of their work.

And you know what? I did it too.

And my work was sub-par.

It didn’t sell. It was boring. And it needed a lot more work that I wasn’t willing to put in.

So I pulled those books so that other wouldn’t have to suffer reading my sloppy manuscripts.

And It’s not Amazon’s fault, either. I think eventually it would have happened anyway.

But again, this is one example.

Over the past decade, with shifts in social media and the internet and technology in general, this has surfaced in just about every medium.

Nowadays, anyone with a cell phone or webcam can upload videos to YouTube and start a channel. Or start recording podcasts and uploading to Itunes. Or their own music to SoundCloud.

It’s not a bad thing that so many people have access to these amazing tools…

… It’s a matter of their effort. Or lack thereof.

For every decent Youtuber or Self Published Writer or SoundCloud artist, there’s bound to be 9 others that aren’t that great. (If we’re following Sturgeon’s Revelation, which summarily says that 90% of anything available is crap.)

Since such power is wielded by so many, you have to think – not all of those people are good. They simply can’t be, or they’d all be success stories.

Just look at American Idol. Out of hundreds, only a few dozen even make it past round one.

But I think that the ones with what I call the “Shortcut Mentality,” are the same ones who couldn’t make it with the traditional methods.

Maybe they gave up easily. Or their heart wasn’t really in it for the long run. Or they were chasing fame or fortune or vanity as opposed to master the craft.

Maybe they simply weren’t as great as they thought they were.

Which leads me back to my original problem with abstract art:

Due to its very nature, almost anything can be claimed as “abstract art,” and frankly –

It’s disgusting.

Even as an abstract artist myself – I think there’s a lot of garbage out there. Including some of my own works.

As such, since abstract art is so broad and encompassing, it means that by its very nature, it has a very low barrier to entry to create a piece that is “abstract.”

Honestly, this frustrates the Hell of out me.

And I can see why people hate abstract art because of it.

When I look at Pinterest (yes I use it… for color inspiration) or Instagram or even YouTube tutorials, I find myself frowning at much of the work I see.

A lot of it looks like it was made in seconds, with zero to absolute bare minimum effort.

No color composition. No physical work involved. No clear direction or method intended.

This is why I actually stopped creating poured paintings…

After I had made a few pieces, there was no real way to tell apart what I made, versus like the thousand pouring artists on YouTube.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not dissing “pouring artists” or “fluid artists” as whole – I have seen some really talented ones.

But the ones that I admire actually pay attention to the things I mentioned above:

They have a sense of color coordination. Their composition is somewhat planned. They know the materials inside and out. There’s a sense of signature style that you can recognize from piece to piece.

Overall, I suppose it’s not necessarily the barrier to entry itself, but moreso the lack of effort on the part of people looking to make abstract art simply for a quick buck or recognition as an artist, as opposed to doing it because they feel like they have to in order to get rid of that idea that plagues them into madness. Or because they admire the challenge of tackling a tough piece.

I won’t stand up here on my soapbox any longer at this point. I have made some simpler pieces and even done poured ones myself that I hated afterward.

But simple is not the same as lazy. You could use one or two colors to make a statement and million with no direction in mind.

But now I’d really like to know:

What’s your biggest problem with abstract art?

Coty

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