Thursday, September 15, 2011


This is what I wrote on my blog today:
"Twice this week I've had conversations with people about judging art. The first was when I was in the break room at work. I was looking at Selznick's new book...

Anyway, I was looking at the book and someone who works in the kids dept. asked if I was going to buy the book. I said that I was just looking at it. I wanted to look at the art. She asked if I liked it. I told her what I thought. She said that she didn't know how to judge art so she didn't have an opinion. I said, "Well, do you like this or don't you?" She said she thought it was okay. She said she didn't love it but didn't hate it. I said, "So you DO have an opinion. You can judge art." Just because I went to art school and I can verbalize WHY I like or don't like or am indifferent to something doesn't mean that I'm a better judge than anyone else. I think people who weren't schooled are afraid to give their opinion because it won't be the right one. Do you like it? Do you hate it? Are you just okay with it? That's all that matters! Go with your gut. That's all there is to it!"

I want to add something to that. What I want to add is that I think sometimes people who don't know much about art or who aren't trained in it pick out things that "they like" or rather - and maybe I'm taking too big a leap here - THINK that they like - based on what other people say or based on buzz. Sometimes I think this is how Caldecott winners are picked. Buzz starts and people sort of pick something that they think they should pick because people have been talking about it a lot. I am not talking about this because I just mentioned Selznick's book! This has just been on my mind. A trend I notice a lot is that an illustrator will switch up his or her style (mostly his) and all of a sudden everyone is wowed. Usually non art trained people. I think they don't know that artists can do lots of different things. We pick one style because we are trying to sell ourselves. Not because that's all we are capable of doing. But I feel like people see something new or different and think - damn, look at that!!! And then an award is given.

Am I terribly wrong here? Heck, I like starting a discussion. I just noticed this so I thought I'd throw it out there.

1 comment:

Sheila said...

I'd love to know the title of a Caldecott book by an artist who changed his or her style and then won. Just curious.

I agree, buzz probably plays a role in these decisions. As far as the trained eye and the uneducated ... I have to admit, there are times when I think the Caldecott should be judged by artists or illustrators. I may not like a particular style but can appreciate its execution because of my own art training. I remember reading a review in a respected journal years ago. The reviewer talked about the pen and ink drawings in the book. Actually the illustrations were etchings done using the ancient method with a metal plate, etc. The point could be made that it doesn't matter how a work of art is created -- the final product is all that matters. But if I'd done those etchings, I would have been more than annoyed to have them referred to as ink drawings. I don't recall which book this was, but the illustrator was Arthur Geisert.