Gone are the days of sticking to One Medium

Gone are the days of sticking to One Medium

The Evolution of Artistic Expression: Why Artists No Longer Stick to One Medium and Style
In the dynamic world of contemporary art, the notion of an artist dedicating their entire career to a single medium or style is increasingly seen as a relic of the past. The 21st century artist is a polymath, a creator whose work spans multiple mediums and styles, reflecting the complex, interconnected world we live in. This shift is driven by various factors, including technological advancements, the democratization of art, and a growing recognition that true creativity cannot be confined to a single lane. In this blog, we will explore why the days of an artist sticking to one medium and style are over and why embracing diverse forms of expression is essential for the modern artist. I for one am grateful this is the case. I would die if I had  to do the same thing everyday. Variety is the spice of life! Who says you can't become proficient and skilled at more than one craft? Your'e talking with a “If there’s a will, there’s a way kinda girl." I once found a cool piece of drift wood and it became the reason I taught myself how to make a loom and weave. I may be dating myself, but this was back before we had the internet. Grateful for the library back then.

Some History

Traditional Expectations: Historically, artists were often expected to master a specific medium or style. This specialization was seen as a mark of dedication and expertise. From the Renaissance masters like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, who excelled in painting and sculpture, to the Impressionists and Cubists of the 19th and early 20th centuries, who revolutionized painting techniques and styles, the art world has long valued consistency and specialization. Thank you Michelangelo for coloring outside the lines and daring to both paint AND sculpt.

Art Market Dynamics: The art market also played a significant role in this expectation. Collectors, galleries, and critics often preferred artists who produced recognizable, signature works. This predictability made it easier to market and sell art, as buyers knew what to expect from a particular artist. As a result, many artists felt pressured to stick to a single medium or style to ensure commercial success. ….. kill me now. Thank god for social media – I can be two people at once if I have to.

The Modern Paradigm Shift

Technological Advancements: The advent of digital technology has fundamentally transformed the way artists create and share their work. Tools such as digital painting software, 3D modeling programs, and online platforms have opened up new avenues for artistic expression. Artists can now experiment with a wide range of mediums, from traditional painting and sculpture to digital art, video, and virtual reality. This technological flexibility encourages artists to explore and innovate across different forms of media. I am not speaking about AI ( aka Annoying Imitation) generated art, that’s a whole other blog! But the use of technology has made it possible for example, for an artist to take a reference photo and experience it through different filters like mosaic and paint by number programs and then select variations of this to paint on to their canvas. It’s still their unique style and it may sound simple enough to copy but there is always the input of experience and individual interpretation that goes in to an original work of art that makes it their own. Without the aid of modern technology, this new interpretative stylized handmade art might not exist.

Interdisciplinary Collaboration: Modern art is increasingly interdisciplinary, with artists collaborating with professionals from various fields, including science, technology, and social activism. These collaborations often require artists to step outside their comfort zones and engage with new mediums and methodologies. For example, bio-artists might work with biologists to create living installations, while digital artists might collaborate with programmers to develop interactive experiences. Think VanGogh – the immersive experience that recently toured the world.

The Influence of Globalization: Globalization has facilitated the cross-pollination of ideas and techniques from diverse cultures and artistic traditions. Artists today have access to a vast array of influences and resources, enabling them to incorporate elements from different cultures and disciplines into their work. This global perspective encourages artists to experiment with new mediums and styles, breaking free from the constraints of tradition.

The Benefits of Multidisciplinary Practice

Creative Freedom: One of the most significant benefits of working across multiple mediums and styles is the creative freedom it affords. Artists are not limited by the constraints of a single medium and can choose the most appropriate form of expression for their ideas. This flexibility leads to a more authentic and dynamic artistic practice, allowing artists to fully explore their creative potential. Imagine having to paint the same scenes and style everyday, all day, over and over again for years. (We can’t interview him to know for sure, but there may have been more to the story of why Van Gogh cut off his ear…………… “ If I hear one more gallery owner say paint more….. I’ll…..)

Continuous Learning and Growth: Engaging with different mediums and styles promotes continuous learning and growth. Each medium has its own unique challenges and possibilities, pushing artists to develop new skills and expand their technical and conceptual repertoire. This ongoing learning process keeps artists intellectually and creatively stimulated, preventing stagnation and fosters innovation. Why should scholars n scientists have all the fun?? We came to this life to explore and learn. Never stop learning- that’s where the fun is.

Broader Audience Reach: Artists who work in multiple mediums can reach a broader audience. Different people are drawn to different types of art, and by diversifying their practice, artists can connect with a wider range of viewers. My glass art lead me to painting, not because I wanted to reach a wider audience but because of its limitations of expression given the limited color palette and the intensity of how my glass paintings are constructed ( leaning over a light table for hours painting with tiny particles of glass).  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to see where my path leads now that I have added painting officially to my repertoire.

Resilience and Adaptability: The ability to work across multiple mediums makes artists more resilient and adaptable in a rapidly changing art market. Economic fluctuations, shifts in public taste, and technological advancements can all impact an artist’s career. Those who can pivot between different mediums and styles are better equipped to navigate these changes and sustain their practice over time.

Challenges and Considerations

Balancing Breadth and Depth: While working in multiple mediums offers many benefits, it also presents challenges. One of the main challenges is balancing breadth and depth. Artists must strive to develop a deep understanding of each medium they work with while also exploring a wide range of techniques and styles. This requires a significant investment of time and effort, and not all artists may find this balance easy to achieve. It takes a refined amount of discipline. I’m grateful for my years of self organizational skills developed over the years when I was in the Promotional advertising industry.

Maintaining Artistic Identity: Another challenge is maintaining a coherent artistic identity across different mediums and styles. With such diversity in a practice, artists must find ways to ensure that their work remains recognizable and true to their vision. This can be achieved through consistent themes, motifs, or conceptual approaches that tie their diverse works together. I have found in my artistic practice, there is a consistent theme of texture, colors, and depth with a touch of quirkiness. When people who knew my glass art saw my paintings for the first time, they instantly saw the connection. I have a friend who says my glass mosaics are like my salads and my floral bouquet paintings look just like the arrangements I make so perhaps we can’t not add a piece of ourselves in all that we do.  

Market Perception: The art market can be slow to embrace change, and some collectors and galleries may still prefer artists with a more consistent and recognizable style. Artists who work in multiple mediums may need to invest extra effort in educating their audience and building a market for their diverse body of work. However, as the market evolves, there is increasing appreciation for the versatility and innovation that multidisciplinary artists bring. YAAA!

One of my Favorite Examples of a Multidisciplinary Artist

Yayoi Kusama: Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama is renowned for her work in painting, sculpture, installation, and performance art. Her distinctive style, characterized by polka dots and repetitive patterns, is instantly recognizable across all her mediums. Kusama’s ability to translate her unique vision into different forms has made her one of the most influential and celebrated artists of her time.

The Future Is Bright of Artistic Practice

Integration of Technology: As technology continues to evolve, artists will have even more tools at their disposal to create and share their work. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) are just a few examples of emerging technologies that artists are beginning to explore. These technologies will further blur the lines between different mediums, opening up new possibilities for artistic expression. I strongly believe that at the end of the day, no matter how beautiful an AI generated artwork is, it can never replace the value on something created through a labour of developing a skillset and making something with your god given hands. Anyone can own an AI piece of art but only one can have the original handmade.  

Hybrid Forms: The future of art will likely see the rise of hybrid forms that combine elements from different mediums and disciplines. Artists will continue to experiment with new ways of integrating traditional and digital techniques, creating innovative works that push the boundaries of what art can be. This hybridization will reflect the increasingly interconnected and interdisciplinary nature of contemporary culture.

Global Collaboration: Global collaboration will become even more prevalent, as artists from different cultural backgrounds and disciplines come together to create unique, cross-cultural works. These collaborations will enrich the global art scene, fostering greater understanding and appreciation of diverse perspectives and traditions.

Conclusion

The days of an artist sticking to one medium and style are indeed over. The modern artist is a multifaceted creator who embraces a wide range of techniques and forms to fully express their vision. This shift is driven by technological advancements, the democratization of art, and a recognition that true creativity cannot be confined to a single lane. By working across multiple mediums, artists enjoy greater creative freedom, continuous growth, and a broader reach, making their practice more resilient and adaptable.

As we move forward, the art world will continue to evolve, embracing the diverse and dynamic practices of multidisciplinary artists. This evolution will lead to richer, more innovative, and more inclusive artistic expressions that reflect the complexity and interconnectedness of our contemporary world. Whether you are an artist or an art enthusiast, now is the time to celebrate and support the versatile creators who are redefining what it means to be an artist in the 21st century. A refreshing new renaissance is upon us!

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