Can Art Appreciation Be Taught? 5 Tips That Can Help


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If you’re an art lover, you probably can’t understand why someone wouldn’t love art. How can you NOT love art? Obviously, I’m in your camp as an avid art lover. But, the sad fact of the matter is that not everyone appreciates art. Whether you’re a teacher, friend, parent, or concerned citizen that wants to spread the joy of art to those around you, is it possible? Can art appreciation be taught?

Art appreciation can be taught, but it can’t be forced. It’s important to expose the individual to the right kinds of art that resonate with them. Try to understand their likes and dislikes so that you can better curate art that they would enjoy and naturally start appreciating.

Of course, art appreciation can’t be forced. Forcing someone to enjoy something isn’t enjoyable at all. It needs to happen naturally. 

Luckily, it’s not like we’re trying to convince someone to enjoy a root canal. 

If someone doesn’t seem to appreciate art very much, it’s probably because they haven’t discovered the art that really gets them going. That’s ok. We’re diving into some tips for helping you inspire the less artistically inclined people in your life to embrace the art around them and discover the types of art that they like.

Yes, art appreciation can be taught, but it has to be an organic process of discovery. This isn’t like learning a set of vocabulary words. No, it’s a lot more fun than that. Let’s get started.

1. Let Go of What You Think Art Appreciation Should Mean

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to help someone understand art appreciation is going into it with your own, firm definition of it. In reality, art appreciation is a really vague and broad term that should be uniquely defined by each individual on their own.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably an avid art appreciator. Why would you be trying to help others learn how to appreciate art otherwise? Of course, I love art as well. Yet, I would bet you a set of Prismacolor pencils that our definitions of art appreciation are vastly different from each other (and those pencils aren’t cheap).

Everyone has their own ways of appreciating art, which means that art appreciation is a unique experience with a unique definition. As it should be! It would be out of the artistic spirit to be any other way. 

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If you’re hoping to teach art appreciation to someone, let go of any preconceived notions of what the end goal is. 

Your students, friends, family members, random strangers, may learn how to appreciate art, but it may look different than you expect. And that’s ok.

Be open to different interpretations of art appreciation, and let everyone go down their own path with it.

2. Let Go of Your Ideas of What Types of Art You Think Should Be Appreciated

In the same way that everyone develops their own definitions of art appreciation, everyone also develops their own preferences for the art they appreciate. When you’re teaching art appreciation, be open to the idea that there are many types of art in the world, and they all deserve to be appreciated.

While museums are fantastic, we can get an inflated idea of them. As though we all need to spend a day wandering through a museum appreciating art, and that it can’t be done in any other way. 

Art appreciation isn’t confined to the walls of museums, so neither should the art. ALL art should be appreciated, not just paintings that are a few hundred years old.

Be open to the idea that those you are trying to teach art appreciation to may not end up appreciating the same types of art that you do. That’s ok. The goal is art appreciation, right? Whether it’s manga, watercolors, comics, 300 year old oil paintings, it’s all good.

There are so many different types of art, all worth appreciating.

3. Encourage Exposure to All Types of Art

Now that we’ve rid ourselves of our preconceived notions of what art appreciation should consist of, let’s start appreciating some art. Start off by exposing your students, mentees, future art appreciators to all different types of art.

Remember how we talked about the possibility of people failing to appreciate art because they have yet to be exposed to art that inspires them yet?

Well, here’s when we want to make sure that we’re giving people as much exposure to different types of art as possible. Lettering, anime, pencil portraits, cartoons, and more. 

If you’re looking for appreciation beyond fine art, expand into music, theater, comedy, and more. 

Let your students take the lead and empower them to explore any types of art that pique their interests. Make sure that you don’t rush this process. Give ample time for art exploration with the goal of discovering art that your students have never been exposed to before. 

Who knows, you might also end up with a new favorite type of art along the way.

Remember that we can’t force someone to appreciate art; it needs to come naturally. Our goal here is to identify types of art that people are attracted to in an authentic way. 

Aside from discovering new types of art, another benefit of focusing on art exposure is that it can help dispel any previous opinions that people might have about certain types of art. 

Maybe someone would normally love comic books, but always thought art appreciation was only about appreciating art in museums (I want a great comic book museum!). By celebrating comic books, you can help them see that all art is worthy of appreciating, encourage their love of comic books, and help them start their own art appreciation journey.

Dive into as many different types of art as possible, see what resonates with your students, and roll with it. 

4. Try Connecting with Artists Through Different Mediums

Given technology these days, there are so many ways to connect with our favorite artists and types of art. Encourage your students to follow their favorite artists on social media, watch their tutorials, and search for interviews with them. Have them go beyond the art itself.

Once your students discover their artistic interests, have them dig deeper. Given YouTube, social media, and the internet overall, there are SO many ways to connect with their favorite artists. 

A love for one comic book can turn into a passion after watching tutorials on how to draw the characters, seeing posts by the artist on social media, and seeing the movie rendition of it. Suddenly, one book can turn into a treasure trove of further art discovery.

Let them watch tutorials on YouTube. Have them search for interviews. Actually encourage them to use social media as a means to follow the happenings of their favorite artists. 

If they fall in love with drawing, have them learn about the 5 elements of drawing and how to draw in the style they prefer.

Especially in the case of theater and music, there is a lot of behind the scenes footage and info that can be so fun to explore. 

What I also love about exploring the ins and outs of your favorite art is that it gives you an opportunity to really appreciate how the sausage is made. There’s nothing better for taking your levels of appreciation to the next level by seeing the process behind the work, getting to know the artist, and discovering different ways to engage with it.

5. Focus on the Fun of Art Appreciation

At the end of the day, art appreciation is fun! If it’s not fun, something’s wrong. The whole point of art appreciation is to celebrate the art that we love. Don’t take it too seriously and, if it ever loses its enjoyment, it could be time to mix things up.

If you’re trying to teach someone art appreciation, don’t take it too seriously. If you do, they might take it seriously as well and miss out on the fun of it. 

Everyone will go at their own pace, and have their own journey towards art appreciation. Be aware of times when you might be influencing people towards certain types of art that they might not be naturally drawn to, or rushing them through the process.

Focus on how fun art appreciation can be. If you do, teaching art appreciation will come naturally and will barely feel like an effort. With the right exposure, the right attitude, and the right mentorship, anyone can learn to appreciate art; maybe even fall in love with it.

Diana Fitts

Diana has been an artist for over 25 years and has training in drawing, painting, digital drawing and graphic design. Diana's latest obsession is digitally drawing with Procreate and creating t-shirt designs with Canva. Diana has experience selling her art across a number of platforms and loves helping other artists learn how to make money from their art as well.

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