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How to select a subject, topic, theme for an art project

Many senior high school students begin by choosing a topic for school work or portfolio. It is a decision that many may find difficult due to a lack of inspiration or inability to discern between two or more possible ideas. Here are some tips that may help you with brainstorming, evaluating and selecting an outstanding subject, topic or theme for your high school project. 

 Brainstorm Ideas

  • Write down all subjects, themes, places, things, activities or issues that are personally relevant/ matter to you or random, unexpected things such as the kitchen sink or your desk. The purpose of artwork is to communicate a message. If there is no meaning behind the work, there is no driving force – nothing to direct and support your decision making. Therefore, write down the things that you cared about; that move you. 
  • Have a collection of reference images. Can be first-hand material or from creative art websites such as Behance, Flickr and Carbonmade, Talenthouse, ArtServed.
  • Include topics that are unusual, challenging, controversial or inspiring. A tried and true subject can still be approached in an individual and innovative way, but choosing a topic that is different and fresh has certain advantages. 

Evaluate your ideas

  • Think carefully about the topics that you have on your paper. 
  • Eliminate those ‘cheesy’, insincere and overly pretty ideas (ex. Pink hearts, theme of ‘World Peace’, bunches of roses)
  • Eliminate those subjects that you are unable to explore first-hand. In order to create artworks, you will need access to high quality imagery. Relying on photographs taken by others is never a good idea. Try to choose subjects that you can physically return to, whenever you need. 
  • Eliminate those topics for which the source material lacks aesthetic appeal. Do not mistake ‘aesthetic appeal’ for pretty. Some of the ‘ugliest’ subjects can be beautifully rendered in an artwork. Try to find the beauty in the ordinary. However, some object combinations (may due to their particular shapes, colour or textures) are extremely difficult to work in a pleasing way. 
  • Eliminate topics that are common or over-done unless you have an original idea of approaching the topic. It doesn’t matter if some others have explored the same topic as you because no one will make the exact art as you. But, if everyone is doing it – if it is a topic that the examiners have seen a hundred times before, you should think carefully about whether you have something original and new to approach it. 

Source: https://www.studentartguide.com/articles/a-level-art-ideas

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