Second Realm

Eric P. Rhodes, Artist

What It Takes to Make a Great Artwork


Moshed Fountain (Second Realm, 2021)

The Essential Elements of Great Art According to the Experts

Crafting Masterpieces

Art, in its many forms, has been a medium of expression for millennia. From the cave paintings of prehistoric times to the digital art of the 21st century, artists have sought to capture the essence of the human experience and convey it to their audience. But what truly makes a piece of artwork great? While the answer is inherently subjective, there are certain elements and principles that many artists, collectors, and critics agree upon.

  1. Emotional Resonance: At its core, great art touches the soul. It evokes emotions, memories, and thoughts, allowing the viewer to connect with the piece on a deeply personal level. Whether it’s joy, sorrow, anger, or nostalgia, the ability of artwork to resonate emotionally is a hallmark of its greatness.
  2. Originality: While it’s true that there’s nothing new under the sun (or as I often say, “nothing is original, everything is a remix”), great art often presents a fresh perspective or a unique voice. It doesn’t necessarily have to be revolutionary, but it should offer a viewpoint or technique that stands out from the crowd.
  3. Technical Skill: Mastery of the chosen medium is crucial. Whether it’s the delicate brushstrokes of a painter, the precision of a sculptor, or the innovative use of digital tools by artist, technical prowess showcases the artist’s dedication and expertise.
  4. Relevance: Art that speaks to the zeitgeist or captures the essence of its time often stands out. By addressing contemporary issues, societal changes, or cultural shifts, artists can create pieces that are both timely and timeless.
  5. Intentionality: Every stroke, color, or note in a piece of artwork should be deliberate. Even in abstract art, where spontaneity plays a significant role, there’s a sense of purpose and intention behind each decision.
  6. Depth: Great art often has layers of meaning. On the surface, it might tell one story, but upon closer inspection, hidden themes, symbols, and messages emerge, inviting viewers to delve deeper and explore the piece’s complexities.
  7. Universality: While art often stems from personal experiences, the themes it addresses are universal. Love, loss, hope, despair – these are feelings and experiences shared by humanity across time and cultures. Artwork that taps into these universal themes has the power to transcend borders and epochs.
  8. Evolution: An artist’s growth and evolution contribute to the greatness of their work. As they refine their skills, experiment with new techniques, and expand their horizons, their artwork reflects this journey, often leading to more profound and impactful pieces.

While the definition of “great” art is ever-evolving and varies from person to person, certain elements consistently emerge as indicators of a masterpiece. It’s a blend of emotion, skill, intention, and relevance, all coming together to create something that resonates with the viewer. Whether you’re an artist seeking to create a magnum opus or an art lover trying to understand what moves you, recognizing these elements can offer a deeper appreciation of the beautiful tapestry of human expression.