Are You an Art Snob?

Free Blown Floor Decanters (28″ to 37″ tall) from 1958-74, made by Blenko Glass Company and designed by Wayne Husted and John Nickerson.

Blue Dream, Guido F. Castellanos, Abstract digital art

The art snob should always remember the medium does not create the art, the artist does.                                                                    

 Are You an Art Snob?

Snobs are everywhere. They have always existed. Some are more easily identified than others. However, in today’s post we want to concentrate on the Art Snob (or the Snobbish Artist). We will be concerned with two questions: 1) Can you identify an Art Snob if you came face to face with one? 2) Are you an Art Snob? defines a snob as “a person who believes himself or herself an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding this field: a musical snob.”   

“A snob, guilty of snobbery or snobbism, is a person who imitates the manners, adopts the world-view and apes the lifestyle of a social class of people to which that person does not by right belong. A snob is perceived by those being imitated as an “arriviste”, perhaps nouveau riche, and the elite group closes ranks to exclude such outsiders, often by developing elaborate social codes, symbolic status and recognizable marks of language. The snobs in response refine their behavior model.”

A more concise definition of a Snob would be “one who affects an offensive air of self-satisfied superiority in matters of taste or intellect.” 

Artists, as Caroline Ferdinandsen says, “are often strange, pretentious and hyperbolic people”. She goes on to say that “superiority—or even the flimsy illusion of it—is a nasty thing when it keeps us from dealing gently with our fellow man.”  

From all the information I’ve gathered, and from my own experience, Snobs are insecure people. When someone is genuinely an authority, that person does not treat others with disdain nor has a patronizing or condescending attitude.

Are you an Art Snob? Here’s how you can tell if you are. 

1) You are an Art Snob if you are not gracious and tolerant of creativity in whatever form it takes. According to Derek R. Audette, “the entire ‘my art is better than your art’ thing really gets under my skin. The fact of matter is: Your art IS better than my art…at being what it is. So what? If just so happens that my art is better than your art, at being what it is.”

I have a free blown glass collection from four important American glass designers from the Blenko Historic Period (1947-74): Winslow Anderson, Wayne Husted, Joel Philip Myers and John Nickerson.  The pioneering work of these four exceptional glass designers is extremely important to American culture. The work of the first two designers (Anderson and Husted) basically paved the way for the Studio Glass Movement, and Joel Philip Myers was a founding member of the Studio Glass Movement.

One particular artist told me, with an arrogant and disdainful attitude, that he did not like glass, meaning that he did not consider glass as a legitimate medium for creating beautiful art. If this is not art snobbism at its worst, I don’t know what is. 

2) You are an Art Snob if you paint in oils and believe you are better than or disdain the artist who paints in watercolor, acrylics or uses the computer to create digital art. Digital art began in the 90s with the accessibility and proliferation of the personal computer. It will take time for its acceptance as a legitimate medium. History teaches us that it will take years, sometimes centuries, for new mediums to become accepted. Watercolor, used by Albrecht Durer in the XV century, was not accepted in England until the 1700s. In the USA, watercolor was viewed as a sketching tool until Winslow Homer came along, used it and popularized it as an authentic medium in the XIX century. What about acrylics? Acrylics came along in the early 50s, with the emergence of plastics. Today digital art is fighting for its place as a legitimate art medium.  Early digital prints were not of high quality. However, today that is no longer the case. The use of six colors in Giclee printing produces much better results than four color lithographs. When printed in acid free paper, giclee’s will last for many decades.
3) You are an Art Snob if in a home, as Russell Lynes says in Snobs (1950), “you take a quick look at the pictures on the walls, quick but penetrating, as though you were undressing them. This is followed either by complete and pained silence or a comment such as ‘That’s really a very pleasant little water color you have there.’”

4) You are an Art Snob if you consider that other people’s opinions about art are not valid because they don’t have your skills, knowledge or expertise on the subject.  There are snobs that even consider themselves infallible when discussing certain art subjects. The art snob believes he or she possesses additional senses or insights that “ordinary” people don’t posses, which allow for exclusive appreciation of a work of art.

5) You are an Art Snob if it bothers you when people use the term “style” when referring to the work of an artist or to your own work (a fine artist, in the words of the snob), instead of “approach”. The art snob, or the snobbish artist, will inmediately correct you and tell you that an illustrator has a specific style; however “a ‘fine artist’ reacts and approches subject matter”.  Wow! Want to meet a self-righteous and  opinionated jerk? Let me introduce you to the Art Snob! 

Dick Van Vector, in his article titled Top 10 Characteristics of an Art Snob, writes that an Art Snob, among other things, wears a black turtle neck and tight jeans to the gallery, loves or hates French Art, is a wine expert, is a Kandisky expert, and gazes critically and unimpressively at any comtemporary work of art in a gallery.  

Guido F. Castellanos



8 Responses to Are You an Art Snob?

  1. Your digital work is beautiful! I have been making digital art for a couple of years and know first-hand about “snobbery” when it comes to the new medium. I am having so much fun with it, who cares what the “art establishment” thinks? My “photo-paintings” are just as satisfying to me as the ones I’ve done in other mediums. The colors are fantastic.

  2. Josh dice:

    well, I’m very pleased to note that I am in no way a snobby glassblower LOL. I think your work is superb, keep on it!

  3. AitchCS dice:

    I think glass art is fine art. It may be “low-brow” art according to some–but there is a vast appreciation developing for glass art in particular and examples are being added to major museums all the time now.
    Here in Denver at the DAM, a few years ago they added a lot of 20th century glass works from around the world as well as several chairs designed by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen.
    I was visiting the major museums in LA this summer and same thing—lots of glass, furniture, household objects— and they do consider it Art now!
    I purchased a beautiful charcoal decanter from Blenko just yesterday. 🙂

  4. I don’t comment, but after looking at some of the responses here Are You an Art Snob? Guido F. Castellanos. I do have some questions for you if it’s allright. Could it be only me or do a few of the responses look like they are coming from brain dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are writing at additional online social sites, I would like to keep up with you. Would you list of every one of all your social pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  5. Candelaria dice:

    My brother recommended I might like this blog. He was entirely right.
    This post truly made my day. You cann’t imagine simply how much time I had spent for this information! Thanks!

  6. Gracias por esto, la verdad que es bueno conseguir sitios como este, ahora mismo iniciaré un trabajo que se relaciona bastante con esto.

  7. Cacota :v dice:

    Great article.
    You would expect art teachers to be more tolerant and comprehensive than any Internet peer but sadly is not the case.
    In my art college I had to stand the most pedantic moron comments from those who supposedly were there to instruct me and expand my creativity.
    I had to survive in an environment where, for some reason, not only acrylics or digital pieces weren’t considered ”authentic” art … also illustration (which is considered by them a design not an art piece ?) and animation, basically anything commercial and with outlines.
    I saw a teacher literally INSULTING a girl’s art and making her run and cry just because she draws cute things (anime).


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