MOF | Glossary of Art Terms

This perpetually growing glossary is for those who dare try to communicate by or understand artspeak, which just about adds up to a whole other language.

2D Art | Two-dimensional visual art that is largely produced in a flattened medium (e.g. drawings, paintings, photography). Despite its nomenclature 3D or three-dimensional digital illustration and graphics (often confused with 3D art) are associated with 2D art when produced, typically through printing, in flattened physical medium.

3D Art | Three-dimensional visual art that is rendered with three-dimensional physical structure (e.g. pottery, sculpture, models, machines, toys, woodwork, etc.).

Aesthetic | An individual perception of beauty and “taste” which may be shared by a social group that happens to also share the same or similar social mores and cultural preferences (i.e. in the late 1930’s, Nazi Germany instituted a social and intellectual attack on and ban of modern art; perceived to be “degenerate art”, as modern art was created by and inspired free individual thinking and experimentation).

Applied Art | Visual art that includes industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, interior design and decorative art.

Art Collector | Any person or faction who buys art for aesthetic appreciation and/or investment reasons; regardless of actual or perceived social or economic stature.

Art Community | A social group of people, potential businesses and other associations of any size sharing an avid intellectual and potentially business interest in the creation and promotion of art.

Art Form | Either the physical representation of a creatively expressed idea through a medium (e.g. a bronze sculpture or choreographed modern jazz dance) or a non-physical representation (e.g. a song or electronic game).

Art Genre | A set of similar or clearly differing artistic styles that are loosely relied on to plan and arrange the aesthetic elements in imagery.

Artist | Any novice or master, amateur or professional person (as opposed to the term “creative”) who engages in one or more activities involved with creating, practicing or demonstrating an art.

Art Movement | A fine art style or propensity to create work with a specific passionate philosophy or aim that is shared by a group of artists who have collectively published a written manifesto, and acquired considerable public recognition within a limited time period, (potentially spanning from a short as a few months [e.g. Vorticism] to as long as a few decades [e.g. Expressionism]) or during a period of years in which the movement is historically and socially viewed as most inspiring or influential (the official names of art movements are always spelled with a capitalized first letter in literature).

Art Style | The values ascribed or aesthetics achieved in imagery as a result of using specific techniques.

Avant-Garde Art | Artwork that is the result of experimentation and unconventional social, cultural, intellectual and creative thinking (often preferred in high-end fine art).

Commercial Art | Art forms that are usually, not necessarily, visual but are developed primarily for utility (see Fine Art).

Composition (visual art) | The organization of visual art elements, and design principles of perspective and proportion in ways that bring about deliberate visual effects.

Contemporary Art | Art produced at this present point in time — specifically, since World War II.

Creative (as opposed to artist) | Any person who regularly generates effective solutions to problems. A term that has been used needlessly on the Internet and by certain art experts to unnecessarily distinguish artists from creative people who aren’t regarded as artists by themselves or other people. With that consideration, the simplest understanding of a creative person is a person because all reasonably thinking and functioning people create solutions to problems on a daily basis (see Artist).

Creative Vision | The ability to recognize a person, place, event or other thing as not only what it actually is but in a way, that amplifies or intensifies its existence and/or meaning on the human psyche. Creative vision may also involve the adding of one or more profound meanings to that person, place, event or other thing, and it is needed before that person, place, event or other thing is presented or expressed through some artistic means.

Design | Traditionally, artwork bearing visual art elements that can be reproduced exactly in every way by hand, as opposed to an image which can only be produced once by hand (blueprints are designs while pencil drawings, oil paintings, other illustrations and photographs are images); keep in mind that most designs by contemporary considerations are not handmade but are computer generated (e.g. graphic design), as are many contemporary images, and both can be reproduced exactly by technological means.

Emerging Artist | A beginning or experienced professional visual artist that has typically created a relatively small body of work, has achieved some local recognition and/or has limited experience exhibiting their work in public.

Established Artist | A professional visual artist who has produced an extensive body of work – from a dozen to a couple dozen series, and has achieved national or international recognition.

Figurative Illustration | A genre of illustration that depicts an object derived from a real source to represent something or someone but is not to be mistaken for figure drawing or figure painting which exclusively involves depictions of the human form.

Fine Art | Art forms that are not necessarily visual but are developed primarily for aesthetics and/or conveying and analyzing ideas rather than practical application (see Commercial Art).

Graphic | A visual image or design used to convey information, illustrate or entertain.

Illustration | Any visual art that is created to enhance, explain, or beautify something. Illustration is also frequently created for utility; hence illustration is also a commercial art.

Image | Traditionally, artwork bearing visual art elements that can only be produced once by hand, as opposed to a design which features visual art elements that can be reproduced exactly in every way by hand (pencil drawings, oil paintings, other illustrations and photographs are images while schematics are designs); keep in mind that most designs by contemporary considerations are not handmade but are computer generated (e.g. graphic design), as are many contemporary images, and both can be reproduced exactly by technological means.

Mid-Career Artist | A professional visual artist who has completed a couple to a dozen art series (usually a project of 8 to 12 pieces), and have received recognition outside of his or her local arts community.

Motif | (pl. motifs and motives) A graphic that is or is meant to be repeated in a pattern or design.

Modern Art | Artwork produced between the 1860s and 1970s, although the term sounds like it means the same thing as contemporary art, and made with that era’s popular philosophies of artistry — free thinking and experimentation as opposed to applying strong traditional considerations of narrative and realism.

Narrative Art | Artwork that tells a story either through a single piece of artwork or a series of pieces — either an entire story, more than one story or part of one story.

Performance Art | Art forms that create works which rely most heavily on some manner of kinetic involvement in their production, and are produced for an audience (e.g. music, drama and dance are the performance arts).

Photographic Vision | Profound foresight on the creative presentation of an image of a person, place, event or other thing through the recording of light or other electromagnetic radiation.

Photorealism | A genre ad attempt to push visual art aesthetics to the point of creating literal and photographically accurate representations of subject matter, and an art movement (always spelled with a capital P when specifically referring to the movement) that has endured since the 1960’s.

Realism | A genre and effort to create visual art that realistically or “truthfully” represents something as it likely would be seen to the unaided eye, and a 19th century art movement (always spelled with a capital R when specifically referring to the movement).

Rendering | The process of illustrating objects or scenes in artwork by including shading, colour and texture as opposed to only basic lines and curves.

Representational Art | Artwork created to signify something else (i.e. a portrait photograph is a representation of someone’s physical likeness).

SMM | Social Media Marketing the use of SMMP’s and blogs in self-promotion.

SMMP | Social Media Management Platform (e,g. Facebook, Instagram, Tumbler, Twitter and Google+).

Technical Illustration | A genre of illustration used to visually and expressively communicate technical information of how something appears or functions, more often than not to a non-technical observer.

Visual Art | Art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts (photography, video, and film-making) and architecture.

Voice | An artistic style that is distinct and usually recognizable in the work of a specific artist as a result of the artist having unique life and creative experiences, inspirations, adhering to certain materials, techniques, themes and color palette, and using most or all of them together most or all of the time to create art — because of the impact of personal experiences, an artistic voice may change over time.

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