“Do you care about heartbreaking beauty, fresh new ideas, astounding craftsmanship, ingenious solutions and the tingle of a shocking image? Would you make art even if it wasn’t your job?”  Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry: 'Most modern art is rubbish'

Grayson Perry

ABOVE:  Sir Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry is a national treasure and probably our best loved contemporary artist.  He is also a writer and broadcaster. He has made many programmes about art, portraits, the contemporary arts scene and social commentary.  Grayson Perry is known for cross dressing and his flamboyant dress style.

Grayson Perry’s own style of art is very colourful.   He understands colour in art and his work is exceptionally well crafted.  He knows colour mixing and making colours in his work across many different mediums.

Grayson Perry vase

ABOVE:  Vase from Graysone Perry’s Aspects of Myself Exhibition at the Tate.  www.tate.org.uk

Looking carefully at Grayson Perry’s beautifully crafted ceramics, you see that the images are at odds with the style.  The images are often extremely disturbing.

The Turner Prize-winner said he likes 'very little' contemporary work

Grayson Perry has called modern art “rubbish”, claiming to like “very little” contemporary work.

Perry, who delivered the inaugural Radio 4 Reith Lecture, said he feared some members of the art world were frightened of his “middlebrow” appeal, according to The Telegraph.

He said: “Although we live in an era where anything can be art, not everything is art.”

“I think the art world is happy to dig down into the lower regions of society for a bit of gritty reality, but what it’s frightened of is the middle classes with good taste, often. Maybe I appeal to too many of those people.”

When asked about his own tastes he said: “I like very little contemporary art. I think that’s quite a healthy way to look at it. Contemporary art is all being made now, so most of it is rubbish.

“At any one moment most of the art being made is awful.”

He added he was fearful of the “trendies” liking his work. He said: “When the trendy, fashionable people like your work there’s the inevitability of becoming unfashionable.”


Imagine going into hospital and having a surgeon operate on you who has not been taught the basics of surgery.  A fully qualified and experienced surgeon may well go on to develop his own very special skills.  Why is art any different to these?  All these professions have skills that must be learnt.  Art has many, may varied skills and they need to be learnt.  Work should be well crafted.  This is not a comment on style.  Styles can vary and that is personal opinion but skill and craft and passion and care should always be present.

Many art colleges have subscribed to not teaching techniques and processes.

In my view this is the reason that the art being produced today is not of a high and inspiring quality, leading to Grayson Perry’s comments.  So many educational establishments have subscribed to the view as in the quote below.  Graduates leave not having learnt many of the very basics.  This is complete nonsense.  It is a lazy and disrespectful to the world of art and craft and creation. 

Knowledge is power.  Knowledge gives us skills that expand out mind, not reduce it.  We are not restricted by knowing those skills we are enhanced.  Once we understand them and know them we can use the ones the want to and dismiss the ones we don’t want to.  Or we can make our own unique variations.  If we learn how to draw a face or buildings with perspective we don’t then have to do that.  By learning how to mix colours, then we can use the colours we want to and are not restricted to using them straight from a tube or mixing what we happen to create.

“The not knowing is crucial to art, is what permits art to be made. Without the scanning process engendered by not knowing, without the possibility of having the mind move in unanticipated directions, there would be no invention.”

Donald Barthelme, Not-Knowing, 1997

If I were a carpenter

Can you possibly imagine going to college to learn carpentry and being told that studying techniques and processes would destroy the creativity in you.  How could you possibly produce beautiful furniture if you do not learn about the qualities of wood, how to repair and maintain tools, the different materials you can use, knowing which glues to use and why, how to create joints; half lap, cross lap, mitre joints and which joint is most suitable for the job. 

From this point of knowledge you can then use your creativity to create quality furniture with your own unique twist of style.  There is no way that this knowledge thwarts creativity.  Quite the opposite, it positively expands our imagination and possibilities of creation.  

RIGHT:  These beautiful drawers are made by my lovely cousin Willie Burnett



If I were a dress designer

If you wanted to be a top couture dress designer you couldn’t achieve that just by doing great drawings on paper.  You would need to understand and know all about how to construct a garment and put in a zip.  How to cut fabric, learn about different fabrics and what they can do. Understand about cutting fabric and how it lies and other technical skills to know that your design would work.

If I were an artist

If you want to be an artist then there are skills to learn such as drawing and colour mixing.  How deeply you delve into each of these skills depends on how much time you have, how interested you are and what skill level you want to achieve.  You may just want to paint once a week with friends or you may want to earn your living from art.  Whatever your desire the skill that takes your personal enjoyment of painting to the next level is to be confident in colour mixing.  Once you have colour mixing confidence you can choose the colours you want to use and think about interesting colour palettes.

For more information, have a read of my blog post on Colour Mixing for Artists and Aspiring Artists.  CLICK HERE

A very strong, impassioned and personal view

As someone who has taught art for many years, I would say that generations of creative children have grown up believing they are not artistic or creative adults simply because they were not taught and encouraged and shown the creative possibilities in art when they were young.  They may have had art lessons but were largely left to their own devices.  My mission in life is to help these people feel confident now that they are artists and creative.  Creativity is so good for us, it is good for our brain and it is good for our souls.  Let’s get started.


There are so many wonderful and exciting skills to be enjoyed.  Learning how to mix hundreds of beautiful colours in the exact tone and shade that you want will open a whole new world to you so do join us on the Online Colour Mixing Course and buck the trend and produce amazing quality artwork as you graduate.

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