A facebook status conversation I actually decided to keep:

Oct. 24, 2009 22:05
Rain Ing Question on ART: if the audience/spectators did not receive the message that the artist intended to send, is the piece still a success? If only ONE person got the message or was able to connect with the piece, is it still a success?

R. F.
Art should be treated and recognized as a service, it is an immensely influential tool which needs to be handled with responsibility, love, commitment, and enjoyment. Art done for selfish indulgence is not successful art. It’s a hobby, if not therapy.

Suppose the purpose to execute a piece of art is to send out a message then the success is determinant on the message being received. If only ONE person gets the message, then it’s a very WEAK success, but a success nonetheless.

If an artist is satisfied with one message received out of many then good on them. But my standards are higher than that. Art is a medium of communication, if no one gets the message, then its function is as successful as a broken telephone, a smeared piece writing, an inaudible MP3.
Fri at 22:50

I. U.
life is a sum of our individual experiences and we always interpret things based on these experiences so try as u may but people will never get the exact same message you put into an art because no 2 people experience life exactly the same. the minute u try worrying about the message in a creative process, u lose the essence of what would have otherwise become a masterpiece.

artists, like mothers are vessels. u let the creation come out of you in whatever identity it chooses without trying to control it by holding back or thinking of what others should get from it (after all no parent decides what nose or ears their kids will have or how the world will react to the child). you nurture and set it free into the world to find its own path. if u plan on sharing it, then it never belongs to you and will affect everyone including yourself the artist in a variety of ways.

art is a success when it lingers on longer than it is presented, whether the reaction is positive or negative, the point is that it left an impact.
Fri at 23:30

R. F.
While I agree that the audience’s interpretation could never identical to the artist’s intention, I don’t think that it should disregard the responsibility to ensure that the work is meaningful. The audience pays for the artist to say something, tell a story, share an experience, and express creativity. The least that the artist can do is to create something that is worth their time.

Yes, an artist should have ownership over the work and they should nurture it. However, the point of art is to showcase, to present, to SHARE. Therefore, the artist needs to be selfless and consider the audience and their experience. The impact of the piece doesn’t have to be positive. The audience doesn’t have to agree with the artist, but they should at least UNDERSTAND WHY they don’t agree.

Art, as I’ve mentioned is communication. It is a conversation between the artist and the audience. A successful piece of art is in constant dialogue with the audience. It charms them, it provokes them, it attacks them, and more importantly it listens to them. The audience is given the opportunity to respond back and to be engaged. An unsuccessful piece of art is equivalent to having a conversation with an obnoxious, self-indulgent, individual who won’t shut up, who doesn’t engage the listener (audience), and who doesn’t listen.

Sure, art can be used to empower artists, to help them sort through their experiences, and express themselves. But UNLESS they can COMMUNICATE that through the artistic medium, it is nothing more than psychological purging. This does have some merit. After all, it isn’t easy to express yourself creatively; it takes a certain amount of courage to do so. An artist needs to have the OBJECTIVE of sharing their work to create something that is meaningful, engaging, and beyond themselves.
Yesterday at 00:19 ·

R. F.
Oh gosh Rain, sorry for the essay! I didn’t mean to make you read all this. I know you’ve got quite a load to read in the next several days! Lol.
Yesterday at 00:26

P. I.
I’ve totally creeped this entire answer. I will say this, I concur. I do think though, its important not to impose a message, and i guess in an artsy sense that would mean, if you’r gonna say something be creative about it…that creativity sometimes, however means that not everyone is going to “Get it”. and maybe they won’t. and even if all you get is a “wtf did i just see?” …in a true like..wow i dont know what i saw but it still leaves an impression than mission accomplished. I think what can feel the worst is complete indifference. But as long as that’s not the case, job well done 🙂
Yesterday at 00:30

R. F.
Absolutely, no one wants to sit in a seat and be told what to think! A message in art should be creative and needs to be! I also agree that the worst response is perhaps, indifference, it is an indication of wasted time, money, and effort. The art might as well have not existed at all.
Yesterday at 00:38 ·

M. P.
If no one connected with the piece – I don’t think it was a success. As my professor calls it: a “failed visual communication”

In my opinion art making is less about the self and more about the people.

However, if one person connected with it deeply: I think it’s enough to motivate oneself (or maybe it’s just me personally) to keep on going..
8 hours ago

Rain Ing
whoa… thank you all for replying! This has been a question that’s been on my mind for awhile, what constitutes as success? and I must say, I agree with all of you.

I like what R. pointed out, that the artist MUST listen to the audience as much as the audience listens too. when the artist doesn’t listen, then the communication breaks there. and art I believe is a form of communication.

I also agree that art can be treated as a service and handled with responsibility, love, commitment, and enjoyment. I also suspect that sometimes art can also BEGIN as a tool of healing for both the artist and the audience, but it doesn’t need to end there. Eventually, the artist does need to take responsibility and accountability for their work, and that is when the act of providing a service is necessary.

it is of course also a life-long journey and process where the meaning of art changes as the artist grows, evolves and changes too.

I also agree with I.U. that no two persons experience life the exact same way, so people will interpret the art piece differently. which I think is the beauty of art, that there can be numerous interpretations of a piece. in fact, we can argue that good art allows for multiple interpretations. the danger occurs when the artist’s ego gets hurt if the audience interprets it differently from what the artist was trying to say. There is a difference between finding different meanings in the piece and condemning a piece as bad. if the audience got a different meaning than the artist intended, maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

it’s like even in a dialogue between two people, there’s the words, and then there’s the subtext, and perhaps even many layers of subtext, and maybe even unconscious messages being sent out.

and I also agree with P., that indifference is the worst response. it can mean that the art piece was unsuccessful, or it can just mean that the audience didn’t even care enough to have an emotional or intellectual response to the piece, whether good or bad. One questions if that audience member was even participating in the act of receptivity or just zoned off in lala land.

and M.P., yes, it is important to be motivated enough to continue working. d’bi young had said, even if one person got the piece and no one else did, then that’s enough.

Now, i don’t believe in good art or bad art, I prefer to see the work as how developed they are. perhaps the ones that are less developed are the ones that are less “successful.” I like the way I.U. describes success, “art is a success when it lingers on longer than it is presented, whether the reaction is positive or negative, the point is that it left an impact.” There are, of course I’m sure, more than one definition of success. and I guess each artists has to find that on her or his own.
17 minutes ago

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