Everyone’s heard the phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but there are a few instances when this phrase is no longer true. Some pictures have been seen so many times that they no longer have a voice, no longer tell a story, and can no longer share a thousand words. When found in art, these images hold little value as they remain stagnant and unchanged.

Clichés are ideas that have been overused to the point where they have lost their original intent. Like the cracks in a sidewalk, they’ve been seen so many times that they are no longer noticed; they are simply ignored. Unless these ideas can be recycled in a new or original fashion, life will simply cease to exist within them.

In painting and in all forms of art, clichés should be avoided or challenged. We’ve all seen pets, children, and flowers and are no longer as affected by these images as we once were. Familiarity and comfort do not draw interest, it’s the foreign and exotic, the unusual and rebellious, that will attract a viewer’s attention. Artists should harness the power of the unexpected and allow new ideas to blossom, rather than continuously picking the fruits from the same, traditional tree. After eating apples continuously throughout one’s life, a boysenberry sure would be nice!

Like a writer conveys ideas by constructing sentences made up of words, an artist portrays expressions by compiling images made up of elements, and just as an author keeps a thesaurus handy in order to avoid clichés and expand his vocabulary, an artist should keep an open mind and allow his creativity to speak for itself, rather than finding pre-made templates to hide behind. An artist’s main goal should be to showcase his own, personal style and to deliver his own, individual messages, but if these are portrayed through the use of another’s words, ideas, or images, purpose is lost. Following his vision, the artist should continuously search for life in his art and constantly challenge the norm.

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