Wasted Time? What to Look for in an Art Blog

           The last two entries in the Wasted Time series, Business Advice from Art Blogs and Repeated Advice from Art Blogs dealt with two central issues:
1. My frustrations over the plethora of art blogs that offer vague, generic, and repetitive business advice.
2. My scepticism of their claims on the importance of blogging.
I also ranted a bit about why visual thinkers should be asked to write.

           It is important to keep in mind that these business and marketing centric art blogs represent a small fraction of what is out there in the blogosphere, and dismissing every art blog thats out there as repetitive and generic would mean missing out on a lot of great, unique content. Trying to read everything thats out there would take many lifetimes, so strategies to quickly assess they quality of an art blog is critical. This post covers some of the techniques I use while skimming over a blog to gauge weather I should read more, or move on to the next one.
           When I come across someone’s art blog, I start skimming through their advice. If their ideas seem insightful, unique, genuine, powerful or authentic, I will give it a good, detailed read.
But, I wont automatically take their advice to heart until they pass one very crucial test: is the art on their site any good?

           If a blog presents great sounding advice, but I hate the artist’s work, that might raise some caution flags. When an artists has some great sounding advice, and I check out their art, and discover that their work is truly spectacular, that’s when I really take their advice to heart, that’s what determines how much weight I will give to their advice in my own thoughts.
           It took me a long time to be able to properly judge the quality of an art work. The technique needed to do this probably deserves its own entry, but the critical thing to remember is that a distinction must be made between my personal taste, and my assessment of the artist’s concept/technical execution. “Is it good?” and “do I like it?” must be treated as two separate questions. If the art is good, then I’m sold on their advice.
           Quality isn’t the only thing I look for. Quantity also matters. When a blog is authored by a self-described full-time professional artist, and I only see 3 images on their entire site, I get the impression that they aren’t quite as full-time and professional as they let on. Another possibility: the artist might very well be a full time painter, but not a very good one; they may have only ever produced a handful good paintings. Neither of those possibilities lends any credibility in my mind. I need to know if the advice is coming from a weekend painter who does art on the side, a hack, or a full time artist making a living from what they do.
           Like any good rule, there are certainly times where these quality checks should be broken. In fact, several of my favourite places to look for new ideas come from artists that show very little, and very bad work. I am consistently stunned by how such analytical brilliance, such conceptual genus can be focused on the textual description of their ideas, while at the same time, so little effort is being focused on the creation of that art.

           But, I guess bad images are what should be expected when ideas best expressed through text are used for the creation of images.

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Kyle Clements

Kyle Clements is a Toronto-based artist and nerd. During his thesis at the Ontario College of Art and Design, Kyle began working on his Urban Landscapes series, a body of work that aims to capture the energy and excitement of life in the fast-paced urban environment. After graduating from OCAD in 2006, Kyle spent a year living in Asia to gather source material and experience in a different kind or urban environment. His work is vibrant and colourful. Whether painting the harsh Northern landscape, or capturing the overwhelming buzz of life in the city, his acrylic paintings hover between representation and abstraction.

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