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This is going to seem like some impressively pretentious nonsense. It’s going to seem like semantic garbage. It might even be those things. I think that the way most people typically view art is wrong, and I hope this can clarify some things.

We use the word ‘art’ incorrectly. Through generations of linguistic evolution, we have changed a word with one definition into a word with several other, related, but different definitions.

Thats not really the problem. That’s just the way language works. It changes, and grows. That’s what makes Chaucer barely parseable by modern english speakers. Some would suggest that this is a loss. That at some fictitious time in the past, the english language was pure, and it is being ruined by colloquialism. That argument is a real sad sort of “get off my lawn”. That’s not what I mean when I say we use the word art incorrectly. Let me attempt to explain.

There is a recent trend among the deviantart set, a group that tends to skew a bit younger, to use art as a verb.

“I have a deadline coming, so I’m going to go art for a while” “I like your writing. Do you art too?” “She bought a plain white chair and arted. Now it’s beautiful, but it will be off gassing for days.”

I’m slightly older than the typical deviantart or tumbler denizen (if slightly means twice as old), so at first reading, of course the “get off my lawn” reaction was strong. Sort of like every time I hear someone say that they did something “on accident” a fiddle string breaks somewhere between my ears. A consequence of getting older, is that repetition codifies things like language in your brain. Hearing something that violates those perceptions can be jarring. The first reaction is usually to think that you are right and these young philistines are wrong, wrong, wrong. Who is really wrong here? You guessed it. It’s me. Again.

As much as it pains my ageing ears to hear someone verb a noun, this new usage of art is more correct. You see, art isn’t a thing created by a person. That’s an artifact. That’s an object. A recording. Art is the process of a person creating something. Art is a skill. Art is taught and learned. Art is practiced, honed, maybe even mastered. Art is not something that is hung on a wall. Art is not something you watch or listen to. Art is the creation of those things.

Maybe even more important, art is the creation of anything, by any person. Art is industrial container design. Art is planning bus schedules. Art is tilling land, planting seeds, and harvesting the grain. Art is creating poor puns that play off the similarities between the words arted and farted.

To use the word art again, in it’s colloquial noun form, describing the result of a person applying their skill in the creation of a thing that didn’t previously exist, everything is art, and every person is an artist. Not everything is required to move you emotionally, and not all art is what you would call “good”. Some art is downright evil, or morally repugnant, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t art.

Every time I hear someone say “I like it, but I don’t know if it’s art”, I think that this is a person who needs a more full understanding of the word art. Every time I hear someone say “I have no artistic talent” I first think that natural talent doesn’t exist, talent is a learned and practiced skill, and that they need a more full understanding of the word artist.

Art is a verb, not a noun. As soon as you grasp that, you will see art everywhere and in everything. You will see that you are an artist.

This post is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 by the author.
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