What is art?

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What is art? A very convoluted philosophical question. In this short piece, I shall give my two cents on what I believe art is.

Submitted: February 14, 2017

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Submitted: February 13, 2017




Definition from Oxford Dictionary:

 ART - the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.


What is art?

A painting? Pictures? Music? Films, games, books, stage performances. Entertainment for the public, art galleries filled to the brim of beauty. Music reaching the top of popularity charts? The industry of making money from works that people enjoy, that people find beautiful? Something that the artist wishes to express to the world? A voice to the world?

Maybe so. But truly that is the general ideal of what art is to the majority of people.

To me, I ask the question. What art truly is. After years and years of wandering the planes of the mind, of experience, of the human condition. Of just being me. I’ve come to my own answer.

And it starts with two questions.



Naturally you would think an artist is someone who makes art. And art is art. A painting, a sculpture, a poem, a dance, a sort of creative talent. A physical thing.

But that is only the basic view of what art truly is.

Art, in my view, is the complete expression of creativity and imagination. That’s it, a simple explanation, but it has more depth then you can ever imagine and it is the pinnacle of the human spirit. It is not a physical thing. It is purely emotional. It is purely human.

Art is not just a pretty picture. It is emotion in its purest form, expressed in a way to what the artist wants. To this end, an artist is an artist even if they never produced a single physical work.

As art is purely spiritual. It is without a physical form. It is emotional connection with oneself and with others. It is not just a piece of creative work.

If you ever loved someone, treasured an item, indulge in a hobby, helped a person, you are an artist. A true one. As you have expressed creativity and emotion to that aspect of your life.

To give examples of this, you have given a gift to your significant other, for the purpose of expressing your emotional bond and love towards her.

Almost as if your painting a picture. And that person will see it for its expression of love and grow to treasure it. The same way that painting shall be held on a wall. It is held into that person’s heart.

And in turn, that person’s reaction will be a painting in your own mind, as that person will express their own form of emotion back. This is the definition of art. It invokes emotion and bonds. It doesn’t have to be a physical object to be hung in a gallery.

When you indulge in your hobbies, say you’re learning how to cook. Then you’re an artist. Not for the practice of cooking food. But in the reason that you are emotionally expressing your love of cooking to yourself. You are growing, learning and developing yourself though it.

And isn’t that what art is about. Creating and expressing yourself, not only to develop and love yourself, but to others is well.

Even if you struggle making a physical piece of work. You are still an artist, as you’re still growing and expressing yourself. Art is supposed to be a spiritual journey. Not something stressful. Not something people should demand out of you.

But how art is viewed in the world. I am afraid that’s how people will generally view it.

It is something to grow with. Art is your touch on the world and within yourself. And it is in a spiritual form, not a physical thing. A painting in itself is not art. The emotion and expression of the artist and towards you, from that painting. That is Art.


Art is not something that the world has to recognise from you. Art is an emotional bond with soul. It is enlightenment. It is peace and creativity from the soul. Not from fame and fortune.

Art is not only there for the artist to express themselves, it is also to invoke emotion to others.

The valentines card you gave to that person. That smile you gave to someone who is sad. The food you made yourself. The music you listen to make you feel happy. The gift you kept from an old friend. The flowers on the grave of someone you loved.

You have to ask yourself, why do you do those things. Is it because you care? Is it because you want to be happy?

Is it because you treasure it that gift even though you have no reason to keep it?

Is it because you missed that person and wish to see them again?

Isn’t that what art truly is?

Art is not a physical work. Art is the expression of being human. If you love something, if your passionate, upset, angry or happy. if you do things for the sake of emotion and expression, you are an artist. You are a human.


The reason I am writing this is not only to express my opinion and creativity. But it is also for me, as the purpose of writing this helps me to grow and become more passionate about myself and my work.

This writing right now, I consider to be art. Not because the writing is good or anything. But only because I’m pouring my heart and soul into my words.

The other reason I am also writing this is to hopefully help those who doubt themselves. Who doubt themselves as artists because they believed they failed to produce a single physical work. or failed to produce something good or beautiful in their eyes.

Who stress over months and even years to make something for the world. There work is fragmented and they believe themselves to be worthless.

I am writing this because I am one of them. I have suffered for a long time my own depression and frustrations of creating work. I have doubted myself as a worthy human being all my life. and I have suffered crippling anxiety when it comes to expressing myself towards people.

I am a person who struggles with connecting to myself as well to other people.

And I’m sure I am not the only one in the world who suffers this way. To which I speak out my support towards them.

This writing is also for the purpose, like most my other works, is to remind myself of who I am. To remind myself that I still have spirit despite even if I feel the worse of my struggles and afflictions.

To the people who struggle. If you have a passion, something you value, something or someone you love. Then you are a human being. You are an artist.


This quote from one of my favourite books of all time, sums it up.


‘’What is essential is invisible to the eye’’ – The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Although this quote has many different interpretations. It basically means is that what we all truly treasure and value is not something that is physical. But spiritual.

That the act of spirit, love and expression is what is essential. Physical beauty or physical value is not.

A painting is indeed beautiful. But it is nothing without spirit or emotion.

Physical art is not art. The spirit of it, that is art.


So there you go. My opinion. And you are all free to have your own opinion of art. Of anything really.

So if you have something to express yourself creativity, go right ahead. It is all about being you after all.


-Caleb Cook

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