What Is Art?

“We are not being true to the artist as a man if we consider his art work junk simply because we differ with his outlook on life.” – Francis Schaeffer

The question of art is an interesting one because what we consider to be art is often based on our own preferences. One man’s masterpiece may be another’s paperweight.

But this question of defining art interests me because it directly impacts how we relate to the world around us.

I want my stories to stand on their own as good art regardless who the audience might be. While I understand they won’t jive with every person out there, I certainly don’t want them written off because they’re trite, boring, or rote.

I want to be creative.


But I also want to reflect the character of my Creator.

In the beginning, God made mankind in His own image. As Schaeffer has stated elsewhere, God created us to be creators. However a problem arises because of the fall.

“And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image…” – Genesis 5:3

While we still contain this longing to create, we’re also tainted by the sinful nature we inherit from Adam. Thus, we have the capacity to create skillful works of art that lie in opposition to God’s character.

As such, it seems to me that art is independent of content. Thus the real question lies here.

What kind of impact is my art having? Is it’s value derived from reflecting The Creator or my own finite “expertise”?


About Will Ramirez

Will Ramirez grew up with a love for God's Word and fantastical worlds. The first passion led him to pastor Calvary Chapel Lighthouse for the the last 17 years. The second led him to create the world of Adme, the setting for his coming debut novel, an epic fantasy titled Soul Yearning. He lives in Central Florida with his bride of seventeen years and their four children. Since 2010, he's been a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and serves on the leadership team of Word Weavers of Orlando. He is currently working on the second book of the Godslayer series as well as The Unspoken, book one of a dark fantasy trilogy. In the land of Adme, powerful beings rule as deities and compete with one another for followers. But when a young priest is revealed as the prophesied godslayer, the pantheon unites to destroy him.

6 comments on “What Is Art?

  1. I hope I don’t miss the thrust of your question and concept with my comment. There’s a lot of room for differing perspectives.

    The way I see it, every person is God’s handiwork — both a piece of His art and one made in His image. When we operate in creativity, which is part of who He is and who He made us to be, we reflect Him, regardless of the art we create. Our art may not express anything directly or specifically about Him, but because the art reflects *us* and how we see the world around us, anything true or resonant or “transcendent” about the art would be chalked up to His glory.

    There are times when I think a creative person is shining and brilliant in what they do, even when their art is expressing things that are dark, twisted, and wrong. Because I see past the “content” or subject of the art, and see the heart of the artist and the artist’s God-given ability to express what they see.

    If perhaps the Light shines into their darkness and pierces it, and they see God in His beauty and goodness, and see Him in the world around them, I expect that same skill and brilliance would reflect Him wonderfully. And so I pray for them, that He would reach them with His love.

    Thanks for this thought, Will!

    • Actually you described exactly what I was attempting to say 🙂 I can appreciate that someone is an amazing writer. What they’ve done is amazing writing. That skill-set reflects the Creator even if the content may not accurately reflect His character.

      As such all art has the great capacity to impact a life. The only question is what kind of impact am I having? If the value system I reflect in my writing reflects only my finite understanding of the universe….well, it seems to me I have great potential to negatively impact my readers. And vice-versa of course 🙂

      Thanks for adding to the conversation – I thought you said some things way more eloquently than I did!

  2. Glad I was on the same page and able to respond in kind.

    We do have great potential, don’t we? I think that is something that many, many humans being don’t understand. The power they have to influence others around them. And writers all the more, because of their ability to put something into words and distribute it to many others.

    I know that in this life, I will only have part of the picture. I will fall short in knowledge and understanding and interpretation. I will make mistakes and pass them on to others. I am thankful that God’s grace is sufficient, and He is more than able to 1) teach me better with every passing day and 2) cancel out the negative impact I might unintentionally have.

  3. Yes. How does this immediate thought I had land on you? From a certain point of view – one of my guiding lights as an artist, “form follows function” – a modern tank is as much a work of art as the Mona Lisa. The difference is it’s a lot easier to kill a lot of people with a tank.

    • LOL – That’s a great point!

      • Conversion of one genre of applied art to another, when “form follows function” is applied:

        (Isaiah 2:4 RSV) He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

        Not for nothing do many people believe any form of art can be redeemed. I suspect this is not true across the board, but it is largely true.

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