Surely the best way to learn something is from someone who has actually done it. A blog about how to make cute art will be full of original, beautiful examples of cute art, because I have made them. Those who write so glibly about how to make cute art should be required to actually do it.
Cute art is hard to define. It just looks cute. But cute art doesn’t have to be something you find on a wall, or even something made by you. Cute art can be developed, like a software program, by following a set of rules and conventions.
Cute art usually involves some kind of combination of simplicity, symmetry and unexpectedness. Many people find it appealing because it is simple, but not too simple; unexpected, but not entirely random; symmetrical but not too perfect.
The cuteness of many pieces of art rests on the fact that it violates our expectations about what we expect to see: an image of a duckling is cute because we’re surprised to see a baby duck where we expected a baby chicken; a cat-like animal with bunny ears is cute because we’re surprised to see a combination of features like that; an image that doesn’t have much detail is cute because it doesn’t look enough like anything in particular for us to focus on what’s right or wrong about it.
There are lots of other ways to make something look cute: small size (but not too small), pastel colors (but not too pastel), unexpected materials (but not too unexpected). Cute art is whatever looks cute to you
This is the most popular kind of art. It’s also the easiest to make. It is easier than writing a song, or making a movie, or painting a picture. And it is more popular than any of those things.
But original cute art that becomes popular enough to be lucrative is rarer than you might think. Conventional wisdom says that you can get rich by creating something online and then selling it to Google or Facebook or Twitter. For someone who already knows how to code, this is probably true. But for mere mortals, it’s much harder than most people realize.
What does it mean to create something? If you write a poem and put it on your blog, what you’ve created are the words in the poem, not the poem itself. You can do that over and over, but that doesn’t mean you’ve created anything.
This is a plan for something I want to do, not a business plan. It has nothing to do with money, and nothing to do with making money. I’m not going to start a company or ask for funding. There are plenty of other places on the web you can find advice about how to make money from art, or become rich by blogging. This post describes how I would like to spend my non-work time if I had enough free time that I didn’t need to worry about making money.
Towards the end I’ll describe some of the things I’ve done so far to get closer to this goal, but that’s mainly just because it’s fun to look back at how far you’ve come.
It should be obvious that what I’m describing here is a hobby rather than a profession. Cute art makes no sense as a profession: there is no way to make a lot of money at it, and one of the main reasons people make art is in order to avoid having a real job.
This is written mainly for artists and writers, but others may find it interesting too.
Cute art is good artwork that is also cute. Originally, it was in the form of drawings or paintings. Now it includes photographs, sculptures, and even performances. The best examples are not so much cute as endearing, a word used by critics for artworks that are both well crafted and emotionally moving.
The word “cute” has a bad reputation among people who care about art. They think it means shallow or contrived. But the reason cute art is often shallow or contrived is that being shallow or contrived usually makes things cute.
Cute is an attribute of the artwork, not an evaluation of its subject matter. The Mona Lisa is not a cute painting because there is nothing cuddly about Leonardo’s portrait of Lisa Gherardini, but a drawing of her made by a child might be cute.
A few years ago I got an idea, which I think I got from a George Saunders short story. When you’re young and you realize what your talent is, you should do it for free for as long as you can. The young Picasso painted houses for fun. The young Gandhi walked miles to return a penny he thought had been dropped by a sadhu.
Trying to make your art without pay may sound like the opposite of what your parents told you, but there are good reasons to take this risk. First, it will help you become good at it as soon as possible. Second, while you’re doing it, all the work will feel creative and interesting rather than like work.
If you want to make original art that people care about, you have to do a lot of it for free. In fact the only way to make original art that people really care about is to do a lot of it for free.
If you are an artist and want to succeed, you need to learn how to make art. And then you need to decide what kind of art to make.
It is easy to forget that these are two separate problems. Making art is easy; deciding what kind of art to make is hard. But unless you solve the second problem, the first one doesn’t matter.
For example, there is only one way to make great art: do it. Every other strategy for becoming a great artist-toiling for years in obscurity, or working at it eight hours a day or reading books on the subject-is a bad idea. There are good reasons why these strategies have been popular, but they don’t work.
Because making great art is so difficult, artists have long resorted to tricks and hacks and rules of thumb for creating good enough art fast enough to get noticed before they run out of money or patience. The trouble is that there is no reliable way to figure out in advance which of these tricks will work best; each artist has to experiment and see what works for them.
And once they’ve found something that works, artists often find that it stops working; their tastes change, the world changes around them, or their own powers fade with age and over