A Prism of Isms (but Not a Prisoner!)
Illustrator and fine artist Theresa Bayer, who has written and taught before in these pages, cogitated on the following statement for a while before she finally got it the way she wanted it. Then she ran it on her blog. She calls it The ‘Fun Art ‘Manifesto.
I thought she expressed it so beautifully that I asked her if How To Be A Children’s Book Illustrator could help her spread the word.
Sorry, there is no place to sign your approval on the bottom like America’s forefathers did on the Declaration of Independence.
(I asked.) But you can post a comment on her blog — or post one here and I’ll forward it to Theresa. And while you’re at it, link to a picture on your own art blog that you deem a good example of this new (and old) genre.
Ready? Let’s take our Tennis Court Oath.
The Fun Art Manifesto
Somewhere between the noble realm of Fine Art and the mighty realm of Illustration, lies a curious little field that is coming to be known as Fun Art.
Although Fun Art is neither fine art nor illustration it has elements of both. It doesn’t seem to have an official history, although it’s probably been around as long as there have been artists. Fun Art may have a future, but no one is betting on it. Fun Art is simply Now.
Like fine art, Fun Art is all about being individual, having something interesting to say, and saying it in your own voice. Unlike fine art, Fun Art does not take itself seriously. There are no weighty ponderings about symbolism or realism or abstract outsiders or any other kind of ism. There are no isms in Fun Art, yet Fun Art embraces all isms. Fun Art is a prism of isms, but not a prisoner of isms.
Like illustration, Fun Art is highly accessible, can easily be read and absorbed, and has the same immediate visual and popular appeal that good illustration has. It can be cute or corny or even commercially appealing and that’s OK. Unlike illustration, Fun Art can stand alone and without a story or product to enhance– although it can also be narrative.
Fun Art is joyful, even when veers toward the dark and edgy. There is a zingy energy to it that doesn’t depend on gravitas; its finest examples express a genuineness that goes beyond any commercial concern, even if the subject matter happens to be highly salable. You might call some of it a glorified doodle, but that’s OK too because there is a glory to be found in doodling.
Fun Art has its own set of challenges. Just because it’s humorous or easy on the eyes does not necessarily mean it’s easy to make. Fun Art is of the imagination, and drawing straight from the imagination is a tall order. Foreshortening, perspective, lighting, composition, and fascinating little details are difficult enough when drawing from life. Doing all this from the imagination can be brain wracking indeed–some form of reference is always a help and can inspire an artist to greater heights of creative fancy. Any art that is worth looking at is something an artist has put a lot of work into, and Fun Art is no exception. Composition, color, expression, freshness, detail, and originality are every bit as important in Fun Art as they are in fine art and in illustration.
What deep insights can possibly be had out of Fun Art? None whatsoever, unless by now you’re alive to the notion that joy and humor are meaningful enough to take seriously–in a lighthearted sort of way of course. No angst, no snobbery, no credentials in Fun Art. All it requires is a daily practice and a passion for wackiness. Now that’s fun!
© 2008 Theresa Bayer www.tbarts.com