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  • Jennifer (Davis) Roush

Controversial opinion: sometimes creativity is subjective


Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (The Young Ladies of Avignon) was a pretty controversial piece of artwork when Picasso first shared it with the world. Some people hated it, thinking it was in poor taste and even Matisse, a friend to Picasso, thought the painting was a bad joke. Yet, the legacy this painting has left is undeniable. It is described as one of most influential works of art in the last 100 years and is one of the most recognizable pieces of work Picasso has ever done. So does this mean that artists who hated the painting, like Matisse, didn't know good art when they saw it? Or perhaps, sometimes, art and creativity as a whole is just subjective?


I'm reminded of a class I took in art school called "History of Art History". The class dumbfounded me at first, what kind of history could we possibly learn about art history? But the common theme throughout this class was discussing what made a particular piece of artwork "great". There was never one, true answer because there are so many different elements to consider. Was it innovative? Was it ahead of its time? Was it desired among collectors? How much money was someone willing to pay for it? Did the artist have an already known name in the art world?


There were so many things to consider and my view of the art world changed after that class. And not just famous works of art, but in my own creativity as well. When my professor demanded I design 100 more logos for an assignment, when I was told all I knew how do to was write cute headlines and slap them on a stock photo, when my headline didn't get picked for a pitch, when my manuscript got changed by the client.


In the end, whether it's your professor, your boss, or your client, you're going to meet someone who doesn't like or understand your creative. It doesn't matter how on point you are or how aligned you are with the brief. Sometimes a particular person in power isn't going to get you, your style, or your thought process. But some of the best people I've ever worked with were the ones that could acknowledge that just because something wasn't created in the vision they had in their head, doesn't mean it isn't good. They are the ones winning awards, winning pitches, and making their clients happy.


Fellow artist and friend to Picasso, Braque, initially disliked Les Demoiselles d'Avignon--he didn't understand it. But he studied it and eventually supported and admired the painting, becoming one of its biggest supporters. He recognized that just because you don't get it, doesn't mean it isn't good.

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