What is the purpose of art?

Big question. Reminds me of that other big question:

“What is the meaning of life?”

"Lie To Me" © 2009 Janice Tanton.
"Lie To Me" © 2009 Janice Tanton.

Speaking from my own experience, the purpose of art in my life is in the making of the art. It’s all in the process. The gooey-delicious-get-your-hands-&-your-head-dirty-step-by-step procedures that all come together to create the vision.

Yesterday, while meeting with a partner over some rather interesting logistical linear processes in project management, he pointed to a flipcharted list of steps I’d just scribbled out and asked me,

“Do you enjoy this stuff? I mean, as an artist – do you enjoy this kind of stuff too?”

I didn’t even hesitate when I answered.

“Of course! I LOVE it! It means we are mapping out the steps to get to that creative, wonderful vision we have. How could I not love it? It’s all part of the act of travelling there. It IS art.”

I know that the process of creating a great painting, sculpture or film is the same as creating a great business plan or entreprenurial model.

  • You have the vision of the final product.
  • You plan how to get there.
  • You gather the materials that you need.
  • You employ the skills that are available to you.
  • You do the work.
  • You learn along the way through your mistakes and your triumphs. You keep your eyes open for opportunity.
  • You work through what needs to be done in proper timelines.
  • You realize your vision and celebrate the success.

Truly? It’s the same process for life.


Purpose of Art =  {(Process+Life) x (RiskReward)} x Vision
Purpose of Life = {(Process+Vision) x (Risk-Reward)} x Art

…..now who said artists can’t do complex math.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Lynne Schlumpf

    When you see something beautiful and want to show it to the world. That something beautiful might be inside you or outside of you.

    1. Janice Tanton

      Thanks for your insightful comment, Lynne. I think also that it is not just beauty that art gives as a purpose, but highlights our folly, and generates a response.

      I think that any time there is a reaction to a work, that art has served it’s “purpose” per se, in calling attention to something that would not ordinarily have been viewed in a particular way.

  2. Vanessa

    Wonderful post!

    “This stuff” is the best part. I find the journey far more rewarding “personally” than the finished product. But if you can share your journey with someone and have them truly understand it, that’s the ultimate reward.

    Right now I’m at a point where I’m trying to understand and accept that risks enable growth. I tend to get so comfortable in whats familiar and what I know works.

  3. Janice Tanton

    Hey Vanessa….Sorry I missed your reply on Feb. 22.

    When you talk about sharing your journey, I resonate with that. We come to know each other through the stories that we carry and share. There is little more simplicity to life than that.

    Step outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s only for a baby step….before you know it, you’ll be running towards new challenges with fervour.

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