© 2010 by Tom Baillieul

Defining "art" is easy; it's the product of an artist's effort.  "Good Art" is much more of a challenge to define.  Ask 10 jurors, curators, collectors, or gallery owners to define "good art", and you'll get 12 different answers.  When I have been asked to judge art shows, I apply a series of criteria that let me select the best of the best.   These are also  the criteria I use when creating my own artworks.   There isn't an exact formula to applying these criteria and different judges might weight things differently.   However, truly exceptional art will always rise to the top.

Composition:  Does the work have a dynamic composition that arrests the viewer’s attention? Do the elements of the piece work together to make a unified whole?  How is perspective developed?  Is there a defined focus and path for the eye to follow from dynamic to restful areas?  How are contrast, color and “dissonance” used to create a strong visual narrative?

Originality/Risk: I look for an artwork to be more than just a pretty picture.  Great art is the result of the artist taking risks, going beyond what is comfortable.  Does the piece demonstrate that the artist has pushed physical, cultural or artistic boundaries in creating the work?  Is there a strong emotional impact to the piece?  Has the artist chosen an unusual subject or brought a new perspective to a traditional theme?  Is there social significance to what is presented?  What feelings does the art inspire?

Technique: The “best of the best” should display a high level of technique and craftsmanship.  Does the artist demonstrate facility with the medium?  Is there use of novel materials or a combination of media?  How does the texture of the media enhance or detract from the overall composition?  Has care been taken in how the piece is presented for view?

Artists who's artworks get top marks under each of these criteria are those who challenge themselves – try new ideas and media – break away from traditional perspectives – aren't afraid of emotion creeping into a piece -- keep working on their technique, and above all, create... create...create.