Visual Art and American Idol

Though many people, and understandably, scoff at the reality TV show, American Idol, it is one of my favourites, and I watch it religiously.  I know there are many aspects of the show, like any reality show, that are not exactly truthful; but…

The part of American Idol I love is the blossoming of the young contestants.  From the very first auditions to the final hyped-up live shows, what I get to see every week is the power that can come from believing in yourself.

As well, the show’s judges use compassionate constructive criticism to help the singers improve and grow as artists.  The things the judges repeatedly say to the singers are things that can apply to visual artists, as well as any creative field.

Here’s some of the advice given by the judges, with my interpretations as they may apply to visual art….

Connect with your audience
Make yourself available to viewers of your work – attend your exhibitions with the willingness speak with anyone and everyone about your work.

Be yourself, don’t try to mimic others
This one’s self-evident!

Show enthusiasm!
On and Off the canvas.

Understand the meaning of the song
You’ll be more successful getting your meaning across if you know what your meaning is.

Take charge of the stage
Take charge of the picture plane – utilize the principles of good composition!

Save something for later
Allow your piece the ability to let the viewer to look and explore, and then be rewarded for their attention.

Tell a story
You’ll likely have a more compelling piece if it can tell a story, or at least if you can tell a story about it.

Have fun with it
Remember why you create in the first place… it’s fun!

Don’t overthink it – get out of your head
While it’s good to know the ‘rules’, being able to let your intuition flow and connect to your emotions as you create is more important.

Push yourself to try new things
If you’re not learning and growing, you’re stagnating.

Make me believe you
If you don’t believe your painting, why should I?

Don’t scream at me when you’re singing
Paintings can scream too.  Most people don’t want to be screamed at.
If your piece is too loud, unsettling, or  over-bearing, most people won’t bother to look at it.

Singing with passion can be more important than singing in tune
The ability to execute your idea flawlessly isn’t as important as being able to get your idea across in the first place.  With time and practice, and attention, you’ll eventually gain proficiency enough to do your ideas sufficient justice.

Don’t sing off tune
Take time to learn and become proficient in your craft.

Choose songs that are in your ‘wheelhouse’
Know what your natural artistic strengths are, and utilize them as much as possible.

Don’t forget the words
When conveying something specific, don’t forget to observe and determine the essential aspects of what you’re trying to convey.

Be bold
Just because no one else is doing it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

Be creative, make it your own
No matter how prescriptive a painting may seem, there’s always room to add originality and the unexpected.

Know who you are
If you don’t know what you are about, it might be very difficult to know what your art should be about.

Show your confidence and conviction
You’ve done your due diligence, and developed your craft. Your work is wonderful.  Don’t be afraid to show how much you value your work.

Don’t be afraid to show who you are
No one else can come close to creating the unique way that you create.  Celebrate your individuality!




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