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A Short Guide to Breaking the Rules of Art

By Dan in Misc > Art Opinion

As artists, most of us want to be different and break the rules, right? Artistically speaking, of course. :)

So today I’ve written down my thoughts on how to successfully break the rules in regards to art. Obviously there can’t be hard and fast rules for breaking rules. That would be a little ridiculous. But as far as general guidelines go, I think there’s something here for every artist to think about.

1. Know the rules of art first

You can’t break the rules and claim to be unique, unless you know exactly what you’re doing. After all, millions of people break the rules of art every day but just don’t know it.

For example, if you know how to make good, balanced compositions; then you can also deliberately create “poorly composed,” off-kilter compositions, and use them in a way that enhances your artwork.

Like in a series of paintings about sea-sickness, perhaps. OK, that’s a little odd, but it makes sense, right?

Along the same lines, having proof of good technical skills—like being able to draw realistically—will also validate both you and your artwork, whether you paint stick figures or cartoons.

2. Really break the rules

You’ve never straightened a crooked painting and wondered if it was actually level while the rest of the house was wrong, have you? Probably not, because when compared to all the other horizontal lines (floor, ceiling, etc) it’s clearly the painting that’s just slightly off.

So how does that apply to breaking the rules in art, you ask?

Simple. Your artwork should be obviously different, not just skirt the edges of being different. To use the same crooked painting analogy, your painting should be extremely crooked, even diagonal, so that people know it’s supposed to be like that.

If you only go partway, people might not believe (or even realize) that you’re trying to accomplish something different through your art. Worse yet, they might just think you’re not very good.

Go all out and no one will doubt your intent.

3. Always explain your art

Help people understand your unique artistic vision through your artist statement. Write out exactly why you’ve taken a new approach to art, and how you went about it.

There’s no need to be deliberately confusing with your statement either—unless you’re trying to pass your art off as a “social commentary” or being artistically “deep” when it’s really not.

Something I wouldn’t recommend.

In all honesty, it’s much better to connect with your audience than try to overcome them with pseudo-intellectual words. When people can share your vision, they’ll be much more likely to believe in it themselves and be truly interested in your art.

4. Be artistically consistent

One unique painting by any artist could just be an anomaly. But creating two or three, or a whole series of paintings says something about who you are as an artist.

Work on refining your process and creating consistent works of art that agree with your artist statement. Over time this will make you more believable as an artist (no matter how many artistic rules you break), and help build life-long relationships with collectors of your art.

And that’s the goal, really. To establish your own unique artistic voice while building relationships with people through your art.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again—technology has changed the art world forever. But while most of the time I’m firmly in favor of what technology has done for the individual artist, now I’m beginning to wonder. . . Could it all be leading to an over-saturated art market? Of course, it’s not JUST technology that’s the problem, although it does play a. . . read more

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