Earlier this year I bought a book, “101 things to Learn in Art School” by Kit White to inspire future blog posts. I was getting tired of my other “go to” books “Steal like an Artist” and “Art and Fear’; plus I was interested in seeing what I missed in my own early art education.

There are a few potential posts brewing in my head from this book, but right now I keep coming back #35:

“Sincerity is a non-value in art.” – Robert Storr, lecture at Pratt Institute

Once a work of art leaves the studio and arrives in the larger world, your sincerity is a weak predictor of the work’s success. Outside of the studio, your work must stand on its own and reveal itself without your being present to defend or explain it. A sincere artist can make weak work, and in insincere artist can produce masterpieces. Don’t try to defend a work’s shortcomings with protestations of good or sincere intentions. It isn’t part of the larger world’s criteria of judgment. – Kit White

For me this hits really close to home. Why? Because I would classify my work as sincere. I think it resonates with a small handful of like minded individuals, but not much beyond that. The rest of the world shakes their collective head and says: “So what?” Ok, maybe thats a little harsh, but I think it’s true to some extent. Just because I want my work to be liked, respected and appreciated beyond the toy photography community, doesn’t mean it will be.

So the big question is: “Does it matter?” Is sincerity enough? Does toy photography need to be seen as art? Or is making interesting and pretty pictures that bring joy and happiness to both the creator and a like minded audience enough?

If sincerity doesn’t matter, what does matter? What are the criteria art is judged by? Should I start using toys to reflect current events like @Legojacker or showing how war affects children like the War Toys Project or showcase how insignificant we humans are like Slinkachu?  Can only serious photographs be considered “art” and happy photos of toys automatically classified as sincere and kitsch?

I don’t have the answers, nor do I expect you to either. I am a very sincere toy photographer and I don’t think that is enough.

~ xxSJC

What criteria do you use to judge art (and if art is too strong of a word to use, substitute photography)?