So, there's a Facebook picture making the rounds, where someone puts their glasses down in the corner of a modern art museum, and visitors think it's art and start commenting and approaching it that way. Most of my student illustrator friends, and some of my pro friends, have mocked this as 'proof' that modern art isn't 'good.' I get where they are coming from - it certainly didn't take any technique or time, or even materials....but, I'd like to point out one of the most iconic and enduring character designs of the early 1980s...
Yeah...not seeing the skill or technique required as being tremendously different than putting a pair of glasses in a corner....let me think of another, incredibly well-known character...
Alright, so 'good' art is not necessarily a function of technique. What then?
I'm going to say only one thing makes a piece of artwork good or bad - Context. If you want your work seen as great, secretly put it in a pile of drawings made by preschool children - In that context, your drawing is going to stand out as TREMENDOUS. In reverse, take the best preschool drawing with the most promise, and sit it in a stack with Wyeth sketches, or Craig Mullins paintings - No one is going to single it out as worthy of praise.
I work on a toddler's cartoon show, and we sometimes have to paint things that look like they were done by children - so we are doing it correctly when we eliminate the technique from our work!
You can't say artwork is good or bad...all you can ask is, "Does it meet the needs and expectations of the viewers?" If it does, you have succeeded. If it doesn't, you haven't. If you've painted something for yourself, only you can say if it is 'good' or 'bad.'
In other words - Stop worrying about the merits of your, or anyone else's work! Every drawing is good. If I'm allowed to assign the viewer and the context, I can make the most complex drafting fail, or the most childish rendering of a house with a sun a sure-fire success.
As illustrators, we are looking for clients where our style and ideas match what they need. The more techniques you master, the greater the number of clients out there who will desire what you have to offer...but that's it. It's not that what you have to offer is any better, or more deserving of praise, you have just opened yourself up to more clients. When you cry into your pillow at night that your lighting and color are awful, remember that there are clients that want people to paint like fauvists. When you paint like Waterhouse, remember that you're never going to get work on an 8-bit graphics indie game.
What a client wants says nothing about the work your produce.
Incidentally, I totally think the glasses on the ground is an amazing example of a "rogue", "pop-up" style of modern art. They caused people to stop, to question, to examine their conceptions of what modern art is, and to try to assign meaning to the unexplained....those things are EXACTLY what good modern art strives to do.
Thanks for reading, I truly appreciate your support!