The WOW Factor

Episode 154 · November 28th, 2020 · 32 mins 9 secs

About this Episode

Words like “wow,” “stunning,” and “amazing” are music to the ears of many artists. We all create plenty of art that elicits no more than a passing glance or Instagram “like” and that’s fine—it’s part of the process. If we are making art constantly, what we make includes a range of qualities and ideas. But what is it about those special pieces that makes them stand out and really engage the viewer? What can we learn from them and what questions do they raise?

If art is communication, our work that really engage people is telling us something. We are connecting, speaking to other people in ways that they can receive and respond to.

When a piece both pleases us and feels true, and engages the viewer in a strong way, what characteristics does it tend to have? First, the work shows a strong sense of purpose or intention. That may come through in in subject matter, color or other visual elements, scale, or any aspect of the work that has a certain boldness to it. The work also arises from personal meaning—it is sincere, authentic, not derivative--what we call personal voice.

Very impactful work also typically shows a mastery of technique and high levels of craftsmanship, although that alone may not carry the piece, if expression is not also part of the work. Finally, we respond to beauty, in the sense of work that has depth, power, and meaning,

Finding ways in our work to stay true to our own ideas and communicate with others in a strong and engaging way is one of those life-long challenges that we take on as artists. We will have pieces that hit that mark and many others that do not. Paying attention to our work that does fit both criteria is worthwhile—not to repeat it in a formulaic way-- but to try and understand what it has to teach us.

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