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In art, is it better to do things you don’t like very much or aren’t proud of for experimentation...

... or better what you’re already good at and gives you satisfaction?

Visual artwork of two men standing on a stage with their arms stretched out and down beside them. They have red faces and small proportioned bodies. There are colourful flowers in the background.

This is such an interesting question! 


Two thoughts at first which I'll go on to talk a bit more about:
Firstly, it depends on what kind of artist you want to be.
Secondly, both of these things can be good ways of working.

If you want to be an artist that experiments and pushes boundaries, where you are trying to make something new and beyond expectations then you have to sometimes be prepared to make something that you don't like or something that fails. But it is often when we fail that we learn the most, so failing and making something you are not happy with or not sure of, can often enable you to take a big step forward and discover something new.
So, if you want to be an artist that challenges him or herself, and challenges the audience, then you must be prepared to ask yourself questions and try new things. A bit like taking an overgrown path in the woods rather than the main well-trodden pathway, you may get scratched up a little, but it's often worth it, it brings its own satisfaction.

Having said that, it's also important to recognise what you are good at. As artists, we must begin with what we like and feel good with, and then develop from there. There are things we are naturally drawn to (it may be portraits, or landscapes, or particular colours or subjects). It's good to recognise the full potential of these things.

I think a big part of making art is a sense of play and enjoyment, it should feel natural for the artist - in that sense you have to 'own it'. Then your viewers will come along with you.

I do know a few artists who have decided to just continue making very similar work for most of their careers, possibly because the work sells well, there is more safety in that, and galleries like that more because they can guarantee the kind of work the artist makes. So, staying on a safe and familiar track can make a safer career line for you. If you look at the Gilbert and George show at White Cube in London right now you can see they are making the same kind of work that they have been making for 30 years, and it's very boring!!

Image credit: courtesy of White Cube.