What do I look for in Subject Matter?

Obviously choosing the right subject matter is critical as an artist. But, what is the "right" subject matter? Who decides what is "right"? I've done some carvings that I thought had amazing subject matter and others that I thought were average, only to see the public react to them differently than the way I saw them. I've been carving for a long time, but I continue to learn nothing is what it seems. In the end, you need to choose subject matter that speaks to you. It's a fine line of creating art that drives and inspires you, while making it consumable by the public.

I now look for subject matter in simple, ordinary things, like clothing, shoes, hats, bottles, etc. Then taking a closer look at it's characteristics, the folds, crinkles, shadows, coloring, quirky construction and texture. All of these little things begin to add up as a determining factor for choosing subject matter, for me. If I can take a hat or a shirt and add enough personality to it, to subtlety bring it to life, then I've done a good job. It's then up to the public whether they are seeing it too. Not everyone will pick it up, which is what art is all about. You can drive yourself crazy trying to choose the right subject matter. Over analyzing, over complicating what you want to create. It becomes instinctual and it will evolve as you evolve as a person and artist.

This carving, titled "Lost Sole", is an example of a simple Converse high top that is filled with a ton of complexity as a carver. But the trick is to keep the simplicity, while trying to quietly elevate the characteristics of the shoe. The slight twist and folds at the top. The way the shoelaces weave in and out and flow out of the top of the shoe. All of these things raise the stature of a simple shoe into an interesting piece of art.

What do you find interesting subject matter for art?

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