I was a fine arts major in college. I started with a concentration in drawing, moved to computer arts, then finished out in photography. The last school I went to required a portfolio review before admitting you into the program. My first review didn’t go well. The summary being: The pieces are technically excellent, well done, but they don’t seem to have a voice.
This frustrated me on two fronts:
I took my work down and packed it up. The professors left. I was angry. As I made it to my car I remember thinking, “Okay. I’ll give it a voice. You won’t like it, but I’ll give it one.”
I started making what most people would call memes now, but I looked at it more in the spirit of Ed Ruscha and Barbara Kruger. The first one was a product shot of Wonder Bubbles made to look like a luxury brand overlaid with bubble letters that read: Blow me. Another was a hammer with: I’m a tool. When we reconvened the portfolio review the professor who said my previous work lacked a voice pointed to one and said, “It’s just insulting” - it was a black and white piece that just had the words: It’s not my fault you’re an idiot.
My response was, “Why is it insulting? Do you think you’re an idiot? Why aren’t you the one saying it to someone else?”
Another professor (now the chair of the department) turned his head, I believe to hide a smirk.
The first professor did make a good observation though. He said some of them are funny, some benign, and some are insulting. He was absolutely correct. I had a small notebook in which I would sketch the various ideas (sketch might actually be a bit generous). I would mark them in terms of potential positive or negative impact on the audience.
This realization and the reaction of the professor inspired one of the piece that were never created, it said: Don’t assume the message of the creation is that of the creator.
I made it into the program. I finished my degree on time. This project carried me to the end. With the popularity of memes, it seems like it might be worth taking to the end.