Is there any practical utility in Art?

Jump to Last Post 1-21 of 21 discussions (38 posts)
  1. profile image0
    Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years ago

    It raises only eyebrows when someones says he or she wants to be an artist. There are exceptions; but the popular conception is that there is no 'practical' benefit that Art brings, whether painting or poetry or sculpture or any other subtle art form without visible utility in it. Is it that only the scientists and rationalists make the world a better place for living?  ...any opinion...

    1. Tim Matthews2011 profile image61
      Tim Matthews2011posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I think that the artists of the world are incredibly overlooked.  Art brings a sense of purity into the world.  Scientists and rationalists are conformists.  I believe that we, as artists, are more honest and true to ourselves.  We speak from our hearts, while the scientists and rationalists let either science or "rationality" speak for them.  Art doesn't always have a monetary payoff, but it does always provide us a way to be ourselves and to stand out in a crowd of our peers.  My opinion. Cheers!

      1. profile image0
        Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Hey Tim, thanks for the brilliant reply.  cool

        1. psycheskinner profile image80
          psycheskinnerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          You just said that you didn't agree with the idea that scientists are dull conformists, and a minute later you think it is a brilliant opinion?

          1. profile image0
            Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

            Dear psycheskinner, thank you for keeping an eye on this conversation.

            Let me quote Tim-

            "Art doesn't always have a monetary payoff, but it does always provide us a way to be ourselves"

            "I think that the artists of the world are incredibly overlooked"

            "Art brings a sense of purity into the world"[b]

            [b]"I believe that we, as artists, are more honest and true to ourselves.  We speak from our hearts"

            I thoroughly regret if that was not  a brilliant opinion.

            1. psycheskinner profile image80
              psycheskinnerposted 12 years agoin reply to this

              You endorsed the entire statement.  Including:

              "Scientists and rationalists are conformists.  I believe that we, as artists, are more honest and true to ourselves."

              So why might members of the public feel irritated by "artists".  It might related to nasty little jibs and assumptions of superiority like that? Perhaps?

              I am an artist but do I think artists are superior beings over engineers, or home makers or any other skill group.  No, I don't.

              A true artist does not need to belittle others, and those that do contribute to the negative stereotype of artists as being essential a bit up themselves--often not based on having actually done anything of note.

              1. profile image0
                Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

                I believe there is no problem with the first three quotes? Thank you psycheskinner, for taking it to inches.

                I only endorse that what I quoted, which is: "I believe that we, as artists, are more honest and true to ourselves.  We speak from our hearts"

                Artists always speak from their hearts. They are very often more honest and more true to themselves. Now is there any problem?

    2. cdub77 profile image68
      cdub77posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Your question about the practical application of Art has existed ever since Plato wrote The Republic.  In it, he claimed the perfect society, which he was using as an analogy to describe the ideal person, contained no art.  Since that time, great scholars, artists, philosophers, and critics have presented many and various defenses for art. 

      Few arguments if any have ever reached the height of the original defense of Art's practical uses like Plato's student Aristotle did when he wrote  Poetics.  In it, he coins the term catharsis as the first practical defense for art.  He claimed, and I believe rightly so, that art provided a cathartic experience for society, allowing to experience and release a full gauntlet of emotions in a non-destructive manner.  This, he argued, helps can help the individual and society cope with and overcome difficulties. 

      This is one of the richest topics in critical history.  I can recommend several other reads if you like.  Great discussion!

    3. waynet profile image68
      waynetposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      If it wasn't for artists, the world would be a very dull place. Imagineers come in many forms and they have created worlds for us which we can revisit when we want to and the best thing is our own interpretation is different to the artists vision and meaning, which makes art unique and something to truly wonder and be visually excited by!

      Artists communicate ideas in every day life through entertainment venues of Movies, Games, Books, Comics and just art in general that hangs up in peoples homes or places of work!

      So artists contribute a lot to this world, they help you be inspired and to tap into your imagination and never forget that your own ideas could be worth millions if you landed the right opportunity!

      1. profile image0
        Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Great reply...I am just thinking if  Imagineers is derived from Engineers smile

        Thank you Wayne. I am also a painter myself. It's lovely to hear from another painter, on this subject. Thank you.

        1. sunforged profile image70
          sunforgedposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Of course "Imagineer" is derived from Engineer!

          It is a Disney term, first used for the artists (and engineers) that imagine and designed Disney's attractions.

          As that does/did require engineering skills it was an apt title.

          I wouldnt award the great majority of visual artists with the title of "imagineer"

    4. paradigmsearch profile image60
      paradigmsearchposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Art brings pleasure. As far as I'm concerned, that is a practical utility. smile

      1. profile image0
        Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I should have asked you for the answer before starting such an exhausting discussion smile

        All my labors are lost!!

        Thank you paradigmsearch cool.

  2. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 12 years ago

    It totally depends on the kind of art and what the person considers a practical benefit.  Personally I wouldn't go around saying I was an "artist" out of context unless that was my job.

  3. Stacie L profile image86
    Stacie Lposted 12 years ago

    People don't choose to be artist.they are born to create.I have always maintained that all people are artist;some don't admit to it because there appears to be some negative image of artists.
    society thinks artists don't really work for a living or make any meaningful contributions.

  4. profile image0
    Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years ago

    Well, if I understood correctly, the problem lies in the fact that the artist is not the core of the problem, as he totally believes that art has deep utilities; but the system around him, and the people out of conformity, make it difficult for him to stick to his opinion.

    "It totally depends on the kind of art"- I did not understand perhaps, but does that mean that some art forms are practical, while others aren't?

    "artist" out of context unless that was a job- I totally agree with that; only I believe that some people, like Van Gogh or Wordsworth, make fine exceptions
    as they were not looking for job in their arts.

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply psycheskinner.

  5. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 12 years ago

    Van Gogh and Wordsworth both made their primary living out of their art, other than mooching off family.

    IMHO I think people who feel they are extra special born artists and people who do stuff like science are conformist drones are kind of feeding into the reason why the public has this reaction. The meet a lot of artists who think a lot of themselves but don't actually "do" a lot of art.

    I make a pretty decent amount of my income of art (but I do it for money and so am presumably not a "real" artist).  I spend the rest of the time being a scientist (and so an presumably a conformist--because what makes you successful at cutting edge research is a complete lack of originality).

    If you self identify primary as an artist I would expect it to be the main point of your existence (your "top level" descriptor/identity), something you really put out there in public, and quite possibly how you pay the bills if you are not lucky enough to have someone else pay for them.  But that's just me.

    I "do" art, but I don't feel the need to introduce myself as an artist at parties.  It is just something I got into, an activity/hobby/side-job.

  6. Disturbia profile image60
    Disturbiaposted 12 years ago

    Practical utility? Prehistoric man painted the walls of caves. I suppose if you wanted to find a practical application you might try looking around you, at advertising, education, fashion, graphic design, entertainment, interior design, etc.  Art is all around us, from the illustrations in children's books to the design of the car you drive, to the look of the house you live in, and the building you work in, the computer and video games you play, the photos you use in your hubs, and the design of this website.  Art is life.  It is the expression of emotion.  Art and it's expression are primal inside us.  Whether we choose to create with words, or music, or paint.  And who says science can't be artistic? I've seen some amazing artworks done using light and electricity and modern technology. The natural world is full of living works of art.  Why limit your concept of what is art. Open your mind, and your eyes and you will see the "practical utility" of art.

  7. profile image0
    Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years ago

    It is very interesting to get to know that Van Gogh and William Wordsworth mooched off their families. It is really interesting to predict about persons whom we never knew personally. Very interesting reply psycheskinner.

    Wordsworth didn't make a single penny till the government offered him a civil pension amounting to £300 a year in 1842, when he was 72 years old. I believe he really worked in the 'poetry corporation' very well throughout his life.

    I have respect for every creative person, be it a scientist or an innovator or a school teacher. I only object the point that artists are always unfairly marginalized when it comes to accept their identities in society and in the system  .

    "feeding into the reason why the public has this reaction"- I hope the public has good judgement.

    1. cdub77 profile image68
      cdub77posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I'd like to jump on Tanmoy's bandwagon about "mooching". 

      It has been so well addressed and documented that you need only run a google search to discover the reductive tendencies of Capitalism.  Art, since it's fiscal evaluation is completely dependent upon rapidly changing human opinion, becomes highly speculative financially.  Obviously this is not the correct scale to measure it's worth on because anyone with any money sense would put there money somewhere less speculative. This representation of art, therefore, as a bad investment tends to trump any other argument you can make for it. The effects of this upon art are not insignificant.

      In a world where such behavior, that is the devaluation of art by monetary concerns as expressed above, is modeled, taught, and expected, art's utility becomes nearly non-apparent which is impetus behind this conversation, but non-apparent, as many of you so eloquently argue, is not to be confused with non-existent. 

      Capitalism leads a society to become obsessed with security, and therefore the endless accumulation of wealth, and therefore the bottom line. Despite art's seeming displacement and irrelevancy by this process, it remains one of the few mirrors and sanctuaries afforded modern man caught in such a rat race of his existence where he can take shelter from the world and truthfully see what he is becoming. 

      If our society thinks the artist as so valueless that it cannot be troubled to pay him for this life-changing work and believes he mooches from any who support his vital endeavor, it only means the artist must work that must harder to represent this misperception of himself in his art by society.  It is a censure upon our society, not the artist, when he is seen as a mooch.  Shame on the thinking person that espouses the foolishness that society is not indebted to the artist.

      As an artist, I'm not intimidated by the ignorance of others about art, the lack of promise of monetary compensation for my true work, or by the world being stacked against me.  No real artist ever has been, either.  They answer to their muse, not to the confederacy of dunces. I encourage those of you who understand me to do the same!

  8. psycheskinner profile image80
    psycheskinnerposted 12 years ago

    You noted the public reaction yourself.

    And Wordsworth made his living off his artistic reputation indirectly, much as many academic and 'national treasure' poets do today.  Patronage is probably the main historical method for supporting artists. He did not have an unrelated 'day job'.

    I get that you wanted to complain about limited respect for artists.  But the fact is there is equally limited respect for scientists (vivisectors mooching of the taxpayers to do silly pointless stuff etc).  You will find the same issue for house-wife, manual laborers, car salespeople, actors and many many other pursuits.

    I think you need to earn respect by what you do.  People understand that. As a poet/author/illustrator I can point to my published and charitable work.  When I do that people always seem to be very supportive.  You don't immediately get respect just for appropriating a label.

  9. profile image0
    Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years ago

    I have no interest in what the public says, unless they are speaking the reason; and I still doubt the "feeding into the reason why the public has this reaction".

    I am really curious about the source where it is written that Wordsworth made 'indirect income' through his artistic reputation. I do not have any knowledge of that, I will be really pleased to know how much he made through this appreciation of his poems.

    And the point still remains, that he did not consider his poetry as his job. He was not looking for job in his art. And he would always say that he was an "artist" out of context.

    Thanks for the deep reply psycheskinner.

    If a teenager says he wants to be a scientist, everyone will appreciate that. If a teenager says he wants to be a poet, I doubt how many will.

    Parents do not consider poetry to be worthwhile. They have a good reason for that: because the system do not think it is worthwhile. Artists are not encouraged and supported, both financially and socially, to do what they love. The biggest reason that is provided is that Art has no practical utility. This is the problem. Because it has.

    So good to see that what I wanted to say has been understood so well.

  10. snakeslane profile image82
    snakeslaneposted 12 years ago

    "Life is short, art is long". There you have it, but cannot recall who wrote this.

  11. profile image0
    Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years ago

    Hippocrates wrote that. Thanks for the quote snakeslane.

    "It is a sad fact about our culture that a poet can earn much more money writing or talking about his art than he can by practicing it."

    -W. H. Auden

  12. manlypoetryman profile image78
    manlypoetrymanposted 12 years ago

    Is there any practical utility in Art?

    Can't imagine living on a Planet where creativity could not be expressed.


  13. profile image0
    Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years ago

    I have had a long discussion here manlypoetryman; love you sweet and short reply!

  14. profile image0
    Longhunterposted 12 years ago

    As an artist and a lover of art in all forms, I would have to say, yes, art has practical benefit. The world would be very boring without it.

    As for how parents react, it's their responsibility to make sure their children are self-sufficient and can support and take care of themselves. If you want them to accept you as being serious, write your poetry then publish it. Show them you can make money doing it. By the same token, you must be willing to see it if you're not able to support yourself and do other things as well. Note I said 'as well.' Never give up on your art. Do it on the side but don't stop doing it.

    I agree with Stacie and I can speak from my own experience. Being an artist is something that chooses you, not the other way around. If your a creative person, it's something you must do, not just something you can do.

    I've been a graphic designer and art director for 26 years so it pays the bills. I've done portraits and painting on the side and made some good money doing them. However, my dream is to write novels full time. I'll do the graphic design to pay the bills and I enjoy doing it but I'll never stop writing. When I die, they'll probably have to pry a pencil from my dead hand.

    Here's another quote for you.

    Love what you do and do what you love 100%.

    1. Zabbella profile image77
      Zabbellaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      This was beautifully put!

  15. 2uesday profile image67
    2uesdayposted 12 years ago

    Oddly it is said that Wordsworth at one time worked as a type of tax collector; not much poetic inspiration in that 'pass time' I would guess.

    1. profile image0
      Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      ha ha, very well said. But I believe that a good (not brilliant?) poet can extract inspiration from the dullest of circumstances. Thank you so much 2uesday.

  16. Zabbella profile image77
    Zabbellaposted 12 years ago

    "Life is a fill in the picture." 

    I don't know who wrote that, but I try to live it.   When I was a kid, I always said that I wanted to be an "artist". ( I'm all grown up now.) I enjoy sketching and painting. I enjoy doing this while listening to classical music. Classical music is art, too. 

    The practical part of art is that it serves to clear the mind, it helps this writer unwind, re-invent,  and renew. It has its practical uses.

    1. profile image0
      Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      In the last line, you said it all. Thank you.

  17. profile image0
    Tanmoy Acharyaposted 12 years ago

    Thanks for the great reply Longhunter. You just took my words; I am a young painter myself, trying to find a way to get it professional. You will find me in flickr.

    Painters can make money out of their work, not poets. It's near to impossible to run a house with the money that comes from publishing poetry.

    Poetry is not as useful as medical science is: a poet can not cure me if I am suffering from a terrible disease. He can not provide food, he can not provide shelter.

    That said, it will be disastrous if we marginalize poets and other artists just because they can not provide food and shelter, and save us from diseases. But in fact, Art is perhaps the mother of all the scientific discoveries and inventions that we credit that they save us from pain and annihilation. We could not have a Sigmund Freud if we had no Shakespeare before him. Perhaps that Einstein could have never come up with his theories in a world which has no poetry, and art.

    Human development is an eco-system; where if we make the poets extinct, we endanger every other species interconnected with them. I hope we have wisdom enough not to let that happen. Thank you.

  18. recommend1 profile image62
    recommend1posted 12 years ago

    The idea aired here that Wordsworth lived off his poetry is pure bu!!s@it.  He was a rich guy living on 'independent means' who was totally blinded by his Romantic fervour to the realities of life all around him.  He was an upper class buffoon who wrote meaningless twaddle.  Now if you want a poet who worked for his money you have to go to Blake - who hammered his words into steel plates and sold them for shedloads to the rich pigs he was castigating in the poetry he sold them !

  19. Richieb799 profile image66
    Richieb799posted 12 years ago

    Art is a better form of communication, haven't you heard that a picture is worth a thousand words? language is arbitrary. At present the scientists and intellects are controlled to sell products or invent shampoos that smell better(trivial)....etc etc
    There was a time when great psychologists and artists mingled together. Sigmund Fraud is one example who was part of the surrealist movement to explore the sub-concious. Even scientific study is inspired by intuition, if many scientists didn't imagined these concepts before would never have led to deeper study.
    Thats summing it down in to short paragraph because I have work to do

  20. recommend1 profile image62
    recommend1posted 12 years ago

    Art is hard to define, real artists are also hard to find.  Real art is almost communication from the future, it sits in the edges of reality as a messenger of what is to come.  Other art is just some guy painting stuff.

    I had a relative who could not see art at all and actively campaigned for public bodies to stop supporting what he called a waste of time and money.

    Somewhere between all this is art I guess :D

    1. Richieb799 profile image66
      Richieb799posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I suppose we need to spend our time inventing air fresheners that give us 3 bursts of different fragrances throughout the day to fuel the economy instead

  21. sunforged profile image70
    sunforgedposted 12 years ago

    It is the function of the artist to call attention to what life does not. - Robbins

    Utility of Art?

    The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world. In this long vigil he often has to vary his methods of stimulation; but in this long vigil he is also himself striving against a continual tendency to sleep.
    Marc Chagall


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)