Art and Wallpaper, Part 3: Why Wallpaper Is Not Art

As I was saying, that beautiful wallpaper … does it evoke a heart response?

By looking at our three tenets of creating art (link here), it should become obvious why wallpaper is not art. Wallpaper does not engage with any of these—

  • it is not specific in its emotional conveyance,
  • it is purposefully unclear in any expression so as not to offend anyone, and
  • it does not need to be created with any earnest intent.

Unless someone creates a wallpaper for a specific purpose which is meant to connect each person who enters that room with the mind of the artist, then wallpaper is not art.

As I said before, art cannot strictly be defined by a thing which someone describes as beautiful. When you want to brighten up a room or change the style of your décor you might put up new wallpaper. Wallpaper is pretty for sure, but it is not art. It is not meant to function as an apparent emotional agent. It’s simply there to look nice. The goal of wallpaper is to be as appealing as possible to most people. If that weren’t the aim of the person designing the wallpaper, then he would be looking for a new line of work pretty quickly. It doesn’t take emotion to make wallpaper (no offense to anyone out there who may actually make wallpaper for a living), and it seeks only to conjure up the basest of feelings in us: I like this wallpaper, or I don’t.

And yet another question remains: Is what I make art, or is it wallpaper?

There is a time for wallpaper. Wedding music, hotel room art, and (generally speaking) performing The Nutcracker during the holidays are all meant to be wallpaper. And that is okay. There is nothing wrong with wanting to see or hear things that can conventionally be described as “nice” or “beautiful.” The sin occurs when we try to tell ourselves that our wallpaper is actually art. The worse sin occurs when we try to fool our audience into thinking the same.

When you have an emotion inside of you, do not be afraid to convey it to others in whatever way you see fit. Write a song or a symphony, splatter paint on a canvas, or do something else that suits your emotion even more. Stay true to the three tenets of creating art and you should feel confident in what you create.

Every attempt to make art is worthwhile. Any attempt to disguise wallpaper as art is futile.

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