Art is a lot like product design. The ultimate achievement in consumer products is designing something so great that your product stirs emotion within people. I think that’s a shared goal between art and product design. It is certainly a high achievement to design a thing that people feel love for.
Art is also like product design in that in both you find thousands of variations of the same thing. A thousand artists have painted the mountains. A thousand designers have designed phones. It goes without saying that the millionth artist to paint the mountains isn’t creative. I think though, that neither was the first. The first man or woman to paint the mountains had no competition, they could paint any mountain, in any way, and it would be unique. But what a difficult thing it must be to be an artist joining after a million paintings have been painted and a million sculptures sculpted. That is when we find creativity. We find it in the presence of constrained resources and the pressure to differentiate from a million prior creations… creativity is the only way to rise above.
So if in the 21st century, after thousands of years of previous paintings and sculpture, you were to produce something unique and beautiful and inspiring, that would be creativity worth taking note of.
Janet Echelman’s fishnet installations are beautiful in how they deviate from the large, metal sculptures we see around the world. A still picture hardly captures the beauty. Their grace is captivating, swaying gently in the breeze. As the direction and strength of the breeze changes the fishnet takes new form. The net ripples as air weaves through. For once, man and nature seem graceful together.
It is one thing to paint a still picture of a breeze bending the wheat of a field. It is another thing to capture the beauty of a breeze that had gone unnoticed before.