Artists understand how to create messages that stick and images that push the envelope. They know how to design in a way that opens minds to new possibilities rather than closing them and they can weave stories into their works that change hearts. Before reading Why Is That Art?, my idea of a dinner party was never thirty-nine place settings based on vulvar and butterfly forms and I certainly would not have considered that art but rather a grotesque image placed in a high school biology book that makes you cringe when you unwittingly stumble upon it.
But by studying (if only briefly) artistic movements such as postmodernism and artists like Judy Chicago, I can appreciate the artistic beauty behind works like The Dinner Party and I’m inspired to ponder art and design in ways that I never would have considered otherwise. As students of visual media, this is why it is critical to understand artists and artistic movements. We need to be aware of the potential for art in any situation. We need to learn to design in a way that is visually arresting but still conveys meaning. We need to step out of our tiny boxes and challenge our audience to see the world in a new way.
Being aware of the important professionals in our area of study will only help to elevate us to the top of the industry as well. You have to know your competition to beat it. The top professionals are the ones on the cutting edge, the ones who dare to color outside the lines and courageously show you what’s possible. They shake us of traditional thinking and in James Bertrand’s words, once we rid ourselves of this, “we can get on with creating the future.” But how do we find out what the top innovators are doing? You get click happy. You start with Google and you keep clicking until you have no clue how you ended up where you are or what even led you down that path to begin with (the perks of having a coked-up rooster driving the go-cart). You just need to explore what’s out there. What keeps popping up again and again? Go to conferences. Read blogs. Browse Pinterest. Tweet. Instagram. Take advantage of these connected networks that everyone is raving about (yes…I’m looking at you Jane, Yochai, and Shirky). Open your eyes. Open your mind.
All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.
– T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph