I've seen at a lot of art lately. In addition to finding all kinds of art online in my daily research, I've been going to real art auctions and swap meets (aka flea markets) on a weekly if not daily basis. I've also been selling art and collectibles at swap meets to make ends meet between the rare occasions of photography and retouching gigs.
And so in the past three months I've wouldn't be exaggerating to say I've seen 100,000 pieces of artwork in the full spectrum of mediums (as well as quality). I'm talking about stuff from old masters to Andy Warhol, plus tons of work by 19th century, early 20th century as well as contemporary photographers. Yesterday, driving home from yet another swap meet, all these images coalesced into a simple tenet.
As we have learned from the above image, anything can be art, but what separates just art from good art? Technical acumen is not enough, your art has to have soul. Simply enough, to be great, your work has to transcend the mechanical devices you used to create it, not just be the sum of its parts, but to become greater than the sum of its parts.
You don't have to reinvent the wheel, all you need is a good idea. Andy Warhol didn't invent Campbell's Soup or the silk screen, and David Hockney wasn't the first person to use Polaroids as art, so how did these two become great? Because they came up with an idea how the world works from a slightly different angle, and figured out how to translate that idea into art. Once you have that idea, it doesn't really matter what kind of paint brush you use.